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History never repeats …. Except for Transport in Auckland

They say that history never repeats but that doesn’t quite seem true when it comes to transport in Auckland. Our transport history is littered with examples of poor planning, bad decisions, underestimated demand, a lack of vision and corner cutting in order to save a few dollars. A couple of prime examples are:

  • The harbour bridge – we have all heard the stories about how the design was cut back to save a little but of money at the time only for traffic volumes to require the capacity to be expanded a decade later. Also cut were things like walking and dedicated PT connections, things that are still missing to this day.
  • Britomart – built at a time when rail patronage was low, its five platforms fed by only two tracks was considered to be sufficient capacity for 50 years yet less than 10 years later we have all but run out of space for more trains at peak times. Electrification will give us longer trains but history shows that will only work for so long.

We can now add the Manukau rail link to that list. There are three major issues I, and others, have with the station:

  1. It stops short short of Manukau – Officials will praise how MIT is building a campus on top of the station but that doesn’t make the location good, even extending it just another 150m would have made a huge difference and the campus could still have had a direct exit for students, like how the Westpac building is now at Britomart.
  2. That there is no Southern link – This means that the only way to access the station from the south by train, which would likely be it’s largest catchment, would be to get a train to Puhinui and transfer to a train heading back to Manukau. The NZTA even designed the motorway for it which can clearly be seen in aerial photos, they even built the formation for it so it would be easy to build in the future.
  3. That the station appears not to have been designed in a way that would allow for future extension.

I remember reading some information on this a few years ago on the first point and so went looking for it and what I found surprised me. This story was in the Herald on 1st April 2008 but is no April Fools joke

The council decided last week that an estimated extra cost of $10 million to bring the line 60m east of Davies Ave, into a carpark near its headquarters, was too high when it was trying to stop rates from rising more than 4.9 per cent.

That followed advice from Government agency Ontrack that its budget of about $50 million towards the $72 million link from the main trunk line at Puhinui would not extend past a 9m-deep trench on the western side of Davies Ave, except for a basic pedestrian underpass to the carpark.

Although that would still leave passengers 140m short of the civic offices, and even further from the Southmall shopping centre, the station would be on the doorstop of a potential tertiary education development in Hayman Park.

Most people would probably agree that 60m doesn’t sound like much, especially when it would cost $10m but it can make a massive difference to peoples perception and use of the station. There is meant to be an underpass into the carpark from the station except when I visited the other day, there was no sign of it and no one else seems to know what happened to it either. We also learn that the MIT campus wasn’t even agreed to at the time, in fact another report I found indicated they were looking at several different options so there was a chance nothing would have been built on top of the station.

So what about that Southern link and future proofing the station

But Forum for Auckland Sustainable Transport spokesman Bevan Woodward, representing a coalition of several groups such as Walk Auckland and his own Cycle Action Auckland, said similar limited thinking was behind capacity constraints already emerging at the Britomart rail terminal.

“We have to future-proof these things and start getting it right,” he said

Mr Woodward’s coalition wants provisions for a rail link to be extended east in a loop through Botany Downs to Panmure, rather than relying on feeder buses to bring passengers to an interchange at the proposed Manukau rail-head.

Although Manukau transport planners are prepared to envisage replacing buses with a light-rail link through the east once the population grows large enough in new suburbs such as Flat Bush and Dannemora, they believe it would be too difficult to run heavy trains under or over the Southern Motorway.

But Mr Woodward said that should not be insurmountable, and noted that a road flyover of the motorway was already being built with full Government funding as part of the $210 million link between State Highways 1 and 20.

And

Manukau councillor Bob Wichman said he had always believed the rail link was to extend to Dannemora, and he was disappointed by the limited nature of what was now proposed.

“We are being told we are getting less and less for our buck,” he told fellow councillors, after hearing that the link would initially serve only rail movements to and from central Auckland, and that it might be 10 years before Manukau could be linked to stations further south.

Even back then it appears there was never any real plans to allow the line to be hooked up to the South but next is the part that really pisses me off.

But Manukau Mayor Len Brown said that, while he remained committed to early planning for rapid public transport to and from his eastern suburbs, the priority was to accept the money already on offer from the Government.

If his council hesitated in doing that, it risked having the money reallocated “to other squeaky wheels, and there are lots of squeaky wheels in transport”.

He told the Herald that although light rail might become more viable than buses to and from the east, there would always have to be some form of interchange at central Manukau, as he would not countenance extending heavy rail to his suburban hinterland.

“You can’t do it in local residential areas and I’m not going to.”

So Len Brown seemed to care more about getting some money from the government and saying he signed the project off than getting the best solution for his constituents and the region. What’s more he also ruled out the possibility of ever extending the line in the future which is just plain lunacy. It even appears from this document in September 2007 that both Ontrack and ARTA strongly preferred the station to have a central platform which at least would have made it a bit easier to extend but that appears to have been ignored somewhere along the way. Of course all of this wasn’t helped by other councillors like Dick Quax who hates rail and who pushed for the whole thing to be delayed like this article from 2007 indicates (without a doubt he would have tried to push out the decision again and again).

Now of course this is old news and with the exception of the southern link there isn’t a great deal we can do about these issues right now but just the other day we heard something even more concerning. That Auckland Transport and the Council are looking at how they can cut costs from the CRL. In particular they are looking at cutting out stations which would negatively impact potential patronage. Even more concerning is that they are looking to drop the Eastern connection which would mean it was not possible for trains to get to the CRL tunnel from Newmarket. Here is a comment from that post that describes exactly why that Eastern link is needed

As a network modeller who did some investigatory work on this project a year or two ago, I cannot understand the statement that “current modelling shows its more “efficient” with only 1 direction of link”. The modelling I did envisaged a triangular junction at Mt Eden and crucial to the scheme was the creation of a “CBD Loop” which the east-facing spur would achieve. The pattern of service that I modelled was that all trains entering the CBD would travel around the loop and exit by the same or by another route, with the loop linking the inbound and outbound journeys together into one. Thus nothing “terminated” in the CBD. This is exactly how both Sydney and Melbourne structure their services with a high degree of success. And combined with additional CBD stations, this gets right away from the flawed notion that focussing the entire service on a single CBD access-point will suffice, and that it is somehow OK to “inject” thousands of travellers into the CBD at this one point and expect them happily to disperse under their own steam.
My objective with the Auckland model was to demonstrate the feasibility of a 10-minute peak frequency on all lines, combining to give a 5-minute frequency in each direction around the loop. Under this model, the east-facing spur carried significantly more traffic than the western one, and without it the concept of a CBD Loop would be effectvely lost.

I am concerned that there are decision-makers out there who are not fully aware of what this scheme is all about and what it is capable of delivering. The danger in allowing politicians to pare it back to fit under some arbitrary bar of cost-acceptability, is that a lot of money could still end up being spent on something that proves ineffective. I also wonder whether there may be areas of overdesign in the scheme from which costs could more effectively be cut. I am mindful that at the reinstated Parnell Station, someone considered it necessary to spend a lot of money altering the gradient profiles to make the track through the station less steep (was 1 in 40, now 1 in 80), and the track approaching the station even steeper (was 1 in 45, now 1 in 37.5). I question the need for this, given that stations on Wellington’s Johnsonville Line have managed quite acceptably at 1 in 40 for many years. Maybe in Parnell’s case there are reasons that I am unaware of, but the tendency to insist on “rolls-royce standards” can kill the viability of otherwise worthwhile projects. If cost-savings are are to be made on the CRL scheme, they need to be made competently in a way that will not leave a gold-plated white elephant.

The CRL got overwhelming support as part of the Auckland plan with 80% of people agreeing with the need for it now and this is without the council doing anything to even promote the project (because their current attempts have been pathetic), if they did a proper job of informing the public about what the project actually was and why it is needed then that would put the pressure on the government to support it and cough up some money for it. Sadly in light of what has happened previously at Manukau when Len was in charge it seems we could be seeing exactly the same tactics, get the price low enough to secure the government funding even if that means critically damaging the whole project.  When it comes to transport in Auckland it seems that history definitely does repeat and is doomed to keep doing so.

38 comments to History never repeats …. Except for Transport in Auckland

  • I struggle to think what the running pattern could be without connections in both directions at the southern portal of the tunnel. Would it still involve using Britomart as a terminus station for a whole lot of services from South and East? That would be crazy. Expecting people from say the eastern line heading to midtown destinations to either transfer for one stop or walk as they do now from downtown is hardly getting the best value out of what will still be a big investment. The whole point of the CRL, what is transformational about it, is the way it turns our odd little bunch of lines into an integrated network, with through routing and a huge web of possible journeys. Not into one part of town and back out alone.

    Or will every train from the southern line and its spurs and the eastern line now all go west? Well if that’s the case that going to be a very good service for the western; out of proportion for a few years yet though and inefficient.

    Regards Len and Manukau, it seems like many in Auckland he is waking up more and more to rail’s huge possibility for improving our lives; he did mention at the opening of the new poorly sited station that he sees the line continuing on and further into south east Auckland. So let’s hope that nothing more is done to further limit the future possibilities. Like this route here: http://transportblog.co.nz/2010/12/17/southeast-rtn-busway-rail-trolley-bus-or-light-rail/

    As well as urgently fixing the track access in both directions at Manukau too.

  • AC

    Sigh.
    I want to be happy about these rail improvements, but the fact that are ALWAYS done half-arsed is quite depressing.
    I’m not to upset about the location, but I am about the lack of future planning regarding rail in the south east, the lack of a link to Papakura etc, just a bit more money and confidence and they bloody well could’ve done it right first time.
    This along with taking away the bus lane at Remuera rd…… Just so frustrating.

  • Doloras

    Would we prefer a half-arsed CRL or none at all? What if that is the choice?

    • AC

      Half-arsed CRL I suppose. Don’t expect people to jump for joy about it though.

    • Greg N

      Its that kind of thinking and ultimatum that got us all into the current mess with Transport in Auckland. And its always the PT that suffers

      Sooner or later you need to say no, we don’t want it half arsed and we want it all end of story.

      When was the last time we got a half-arsed road solution shoved down our throats on the basis of its either this or nothing?

    • Personally I would rather hold off until we can get the basics right. A 2 billion dollar ineffective dunger is much more of a balls up than a perfect piece of infrastructure that costs 10% more and doesn’t open until two years later.

      We all moan about what could’ve and should’ve be done with various transport projects, but in most cases it’s about something that can be added on or revised at a later date. The risk here with underground tunnelling is that we’ll be stuck with whatever is built with no practical ability to go back and dig up the CBD around a live rail tunnel.

      But it’s not quite that dichotomy of crap or nothing. There are options here to phase in sections, to save money in appropriate places now and revisit the after the inevitable patronage explosion. The key thing would be doing the stuff that gets locked in right the first time and saving on the bits that can be added at a later date.

      I’ve heard of the possibility of not building K Rd and/or Newton stations to begin with and saving a couple of hundred million a piece. I’d be happy to go ahead without those two if it meant we could have the right junction to start with and the stations phased in later.

      Melbourne opened it’s city loop with only one station to begin with, and took six more years to open the last of them. Maybe we should take that approach instead of crippling service patterns from the start with operationally expensive shortcuts.

    • Matt L

      Based on that logic building half a bridge is ok even though it doesn’t get you all the way across. Personally if something is worth doing then it is worth doing right, we shouldn’t want to cut corners that lock us into suboptimal solutions.

      Also there is the old chestnut of if you really want something then you need to fight for it. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be something the council is doing. Since the government released it’s dodgy review we have hardly heard a word from the council about the project. They say it is still going ahead but haven’t done anything to dispute the governments spin or to properly educate the public about the need for the project so for many it comes across as a nice to have.

      Their other actions also speak pretty loudly about their priorities, While they like to talk up big improvements to PT it is nothing more than PT wash. Planned CAPEX spending on PT has gone from 50/50 under the two year old RLTS to 60/40 in favour of roads in the Auckland plan and in the LTP.

      In the LTP the project does get funding but with the caveat of only if the government contributes half otherwise they will just put it off for another few years. That doesn’t sound to me like the way you treat the project you describe as the single most important in the entire region. They need to have the courage to say that if the government doesn’t come to the party then they will cut the funding for the other roading projects first.

      • David

        Not wishing to defend the council or anything, but the issue here is that the supercity council was designed from the outset to give central government more control than ever. There was a lot of talk when it came in about how powerful a figure the supercity mayor would be based on their personal mandate. It was pretty clear after the first night of the world cup that the main role of the mayor is to carry the can for stuff ups in Auckland, even when the real responsibility lies with central government who write the cheques.

        The NZ state is modelled on the UK, until recently a highly centralized between-elections elective-dictatorship (Scotland and Wales now have a bit more leeway). That model doesn’t grant the sort of autonomy that Auckland would need to enable local infrastructure to be successfully fought for in ways we might like – if NZTA don’t like it, it won’t happen. Or it will only happen on their terms. End of.

        The real issue here is the death-grip the roads lobby have on national transport policy. It would be interesting to know what that consists of – which companies, why, how and which ministers. Until we get to the bottom of that, Auckland PT is unlikely to go anywhere radical very fast – I’m frankly amazed at what has been achieved in the last few years in the circumstances.

        • Simon C

          David, I certainly concur that there is no comparison in Auckland compared with say pre-Britomart.

          However i do believe that the labour Party is still and will remain committed to supporting the CRL. I believe David Shearer is committed to the project and further PT expansion in Auckland more than Helen Clark ever was. She was far too much about social policy while David is more about bricks and mortar. So I do think things will change if Labour can get into govt with David. Whether we still len brown or another mayor and council that still supports the CRL by that time might be the other question. It would be a huge pity (and irony after everything) to get a CRL supporting central govt only to have a local govt against it in power in Akld that scraps the plan! It’s the reverse nightmare scenario!

  • Swan

    I have to agree with the modellers comments. Dropping out essential components of the project is just stupid. They need to be comparing the marginal benefit of the components to the cost reduction of leaving them out.

    And as for engineering standards, engineers seem to be very keen to just hide behind international standards (and even massively exceed them – take for example the number of cross-passages allowed for). I cant understand why this project needs to cost almost twice as much as Waterview, which has twin tunnels of a similar length and TWICE the diameter.

    The engineers need to go back to first principles and decide what is really required rather than just “follow the code”. I suspect the (whole) project could be delivered for a lot less if people did this.

    • Twice Waterview? That is odd, are you sure you are counting all of Waterview, including the connection with the NW? They love to chop the projects into bits so they seem less expensive. Like Puhoi, any recent costings? Otherwise its the stations that are the difference. And the urban location.

      But I agree smaller diameter should make rail tunnels easier to insert. The land purchase at Downtown isn’t a cost either, but an investment.

  • andy t

    The PT is a network, you can’t build projects into the network without consideration of the rest of the network. Therefore projects obviously can’t be conceived in isolation, and need to be developed as part of a program of works to achieve a desired system performance.

    Based on the above post, it appears the Manukau station was built without any ‘hope’ that PT network would be extended. The CRL is perhaps another example of a project being sold in isolation from the rest of network – if the comments (reported on the is blog) of AT’s Stephan Rainbow, are an example, he was unable to describe the benefits to the Orakei Board. To my mind AT / AC should be developed a program of interrelated projects to achieve a target system performance – and it is this program that is funded and not projects on a case by case basis.

    Particularly as we are going to spend significant sums on transit projects in the future, just to meet the Auckland growth – how sensitive will our transit network performance to infrastructure spend be – and what is our ‘optimal’ bang for buck i.e. If we spend the bare minimum to meet growth we might achieve a certain level of service, however if we spend 20% more can we double the performance? And what is our minimum spend just to meet growth?

    By performing a system wide option analysis is to assess infrastructure spends to provide varying levels of service for various growth scenarios – a cost benefit curve can be generated. This analysis I assume can be completed using a regional transport network model. Outputs from this can be utilised to identify the ‘optimal’ network arrangement and associated cost – which in turn can be presented to the council / government / community to agree on the target future performance and funding sources (NLTP?) to fund the infrastructure program. And I suspect if we demonstrate (through good robust planning) that, for example, by spending 20% more we can double the performance – it will be pretty impossible to argue against.

    Once we have a funded infrastructure program in place, then transport planners can plan more confidently – and the network can more easily be future proofed as the planners have a formalised level of service to achieve. But without a program to achieve a target performance, every individual project will be a battle to progress i.e. after the CRL it’ll be the second harbour crossing. And will these projects be constructed in an optimal manner? How will we know if we don’t know what the final network state is and what the network performance target is.

  • BD

    We could all go on forever saying Len Brown is a useless mayor but he is the only one who is promoting public transport and we should be greatful that we got him running the super city as opposed to some right wing National mayor who hates the idea of public transport. The proof is in the pudding, if more and more people starting using Manukau station then more will have to be done in making getting to and from the mall easier than it currently is.

    As for the station design it was poorly designed and more thought should have gone into future proofing the stationso it chould be extended further east, but sometimes you have to accept half-baked decisions in order to get something done, which is better than have nothing at all.

    It would seem to many like Len Brown is heading in the wrong direction, as he should be promoting public transport but at the end of the day, a change of government is what is needed most to bring our vision into reality, I’m hoping for an underpass to at least be built.

    • Matt L

      His actions speak louder than words, so far as part of the super city we have seen the projected spend on transport projects changed from 50/50 to 60/40 in favour of roads while council makes almost no mention of this. The debate around additional funding possibly requiring things like tolls has been positioned about investing in things PT when most of the additional funding isn’t for PT at all.

    • Simon C

      Oh BD, Len is definitely better than the other alternative was. But I fully agree with what MattL said. I don’t think he is really a Pro PT mayor. Rather, a populist who gives different messages to different audiences as evidenced by his sounding on extending the Manukau branch further Eastwards. I’m sorry but I think his remark at the official opening was to placate those asking the questions rather than an indication that he is serious about doing it in the future. It’s so easy to say “Well, it could be done sometime in the future”. It’s a great throwaway line for future PT! Again, you only have to look at his support of a totally unnecessary Manukau parking building that undermines the station and bus terminal being built in the same location. You have to ask yourself how is building a four storey parking building going to entice more people to take PT into Manukau central? As you said, the proof is in the pudding and the above parking project abd issues with this station doesn’t taste too good!

      And NO! We do NOT have to accept half-baked. As others have said, that’s a prime reason why history seems to repeat in Auckland!It’s important joe bloggs Aucklanders like you and me start sending the relevant people the message it’s not ok. BD, there isn’t a day I don’t regret not going to the Herald over my conversation with a Britomart project architect and his remarks that 2 railines into Britomart would be sufficient for 50 years. If a big commotion about that had been made, maybe we wouldn’t hace the Britomart capacity constraints we have today. Who knows? But to my mind it’s important we don’t take half-baked as acceptable. It doesn’t mean gold plating from the start but it does mean doing enough to guarantee success of the project in the long-term.

      Yes we do badly need a central govt that will fully support the PT projects in this city. I don’t want to say it but it’ll be just Auckland’s luck that when that finally happens we have Jamie Lee Ross or Dick Quax in as mayor cutting all the PT projects locally anyway! It would be a dream to get pro PT local and central govt in Auckland at the same time but it seems a lot harder to get than to say!

  • Stacy Chandler

    Interesting reading Matt.

    Obviously there was never any intention of having a southern link at Wiri for the Manukau line.

    Hopefully that won’t happen with the CRL either. Maybe if the government is invovled with that, then it won’t happen. But who knows, they obviously don’t plan together very well… classic example at Wiri with the motorway bridge allowing for the link, but the former Manukau council never having a plan for it. Unreal!

    • Too many agencies involved, all running different agendas and all, except NZTA, underfunded. Kiwi rail focused on freight as the gov. demands. Councillors playing to the crowd and their backers, or in the case of Quax for example always happy to frustrate rail in order to prove his hating is right. AT or as is was then ARTA with insufficient money or authority. Should be better now with one local authority, but it still contains all those different agendas.

      Thankfully NZTA future proofed the bridge, (big ups) so this can and must be fixed.

      Re CRL: can we please hear from someone who thinks cutting the eastern track is a good idea how on earth they plan to run the trains?

      • Matt

        can we please hear from someone who thinks cutting the eastern track is a good idea how on earth they plan to run the trains?

        You’re assuming that they’ve given the issue some thought. I doubt they’ve considered anything beyond “What could we cut in order to save money?” Make it happen, then worry about making it “work”, that’s the way Auckland (and NZ generally) has always done these things. Why should the CRL be in the least bit different?

        • They do have a plan which does appear to work well from certain perspectives, but I think strategically they’re looking at the wrong sort of service model. It’s a bit last century, sort of replicating what Sydney and Melbourne did decades ago rather than running the sorts of service those cities wish they could do today.

      • The Manukau thing isn’t an issue. We don’t have the rolling stock or staff to use a southern link now anyway, and we can easily build it in for a few million when we do have the demand and the ability to run it.

        No big deal there, but the CRL eastern link isn’t the same situation where space can be left, bridges designed around and we simply drop it in when we need it.

  • People, we all know that those steering AKL PT in AC/AT and related govt agencies are either clueless, inept or downright untrustworthy. The public have to stand up and fight to stop history from repeating again and again and again. A PT lobby group with teeth is what is needed. I dont see any such group right now with actual teeth.

    • Simon C

      OdaikoRob, Mike Lee and Penny Webster are both very Pro-PT in the Auckland council. Christine Fletcher is very much for the CRL. I think Crs Casey and Coney are also pretty supportive if I’m not mistaken. The new AT CEO (name escapes me!) also has a good handle on things too and has already drawn quite a bit of praise so shouldn’t be blamed for past mistakes.

      There is a PT lobby group in the name of Campaign for Better Transport which has done a number of campaigns, not least of which was the Onehunga Branch re-opening. They and Mike Lee can take the credit for that coming to fruition. It’s the beauracrats which have to do better if history isn’t to repeat. It took Mike Lee to over their heads and direct to the last Labour central govt to secure the line’s opening after those ARTA beauracrats modelling forecast that there wouldn’t be enough patronage to justify re-opening the line. They then compounded their error by grossly underestimating the patronage they thought would be likely and modelled the amount of services on that. Patronage figures taken since the line reopened show how wrong they were.(even if we were to take out a proportion of AT numbers as they also count pax to/from Ellerslie etc that take Onehunga departed/bound services – another doh! for them too BTW in not setting patronage counting up so that it only reported Onehunga/Te Papa/Penrose departed/bound pax!)

  • Bbc

    -1000x for that comment

    • That’s a little indiscriminate. There are good people working tirelessly for the best possible outcomes for Auckland all through the institutions including at NZTA, but they all face some pretty entrenched and powerful opposition.

      Probably more useful to try to be accurate about where the resistance and disinformation is and work on that.

    • Peter

      It’s probably useful to make a distinction between decisions made by politicians and decisions made by the boffins – and apportion blame where it best lies. Most of the Manukau station problems seems to have been caused by political decisions (i.e. not pushing the tracks in further to the east).

  • Jeremy

    I can’t say I’m disappointed with the location myself. With the landscaping of Hayman Park to happen it creates a nice edge that incorporates the MIT campus, this wasn’t planned initially with the council talking with AUT and MIT on the old Carter Holt Harvey site, but I think it worked out well in the end and I particularly like the fact it’s built over the trench. Also about a possible extension, firstly trains running at ground level down Botany would look weird to me unless it was in a trench, secondly the possibility of funding is highly remote in the foreseeable future.

  • Simon C

    Jeremy, ever been to Perth? The north-bound line (Joondalup?)there goes along the motorway. Didn’t feel weird at all :)

  • Jeremy

    Never been to Perth but I’ve been told its more spread out than Auckland though and an expensive city to live in as well.

  • Feijoa

    Unless you’re quoting the Neil Finn, I think you’ll find the more common saying is that history repeats itself. But should they take another shoot-yourself-in-the-foot shortcut with the CRL, there are even better quotes ready for us to echo:
    “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” (Karl Marx)
    and
    “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” (George Bernard Shaw, but sounds like a good one for John-ston to adopt)

    Ok, so the title and opening sentence is wrong but this article serves its purpose if it acts as a reminder:
    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana).
    But this quote deviously avoids the question of what will happen if you manage to remember, which might well be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Looking on the bright side of things, does that mean we might one day get a proper tram network back? Temporarily…

  • bbc

    I don’t see why you are criticising Len Brown for having become more interested in rail over the years – he once didn’t see the advantage of extending past Manukau and now he does. Isn’t that a good thing? Your post seems to suggest you think politicians should stick to their original opinion despite learning proof to the contrary. I think we have enough politicians like Steven Joyce, I’m happy that others are willing to change their minds.

    • Absolutely agree. And Brown has clearly evolved his view considerably from the old MCC days. And as you say is to be congratulated for that. As well as for his rationality in doing so, as circumstances have changed considerably too. Rail’s value no longer needs to be accepted on faith; it continues to prove that as we invest in it it will increasingly play a vital role in building a better and more efficient Auckland. Even though it is difficult to rebuild the whole network and extend with old kit while it’s use is growing.

      Indeed it is the stubborn old fools holding on to last century’s world view as the evidence for change continues to mount that deserve our scorn.

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