Stunning news today in our little northern satellite town of Auckland, where the National government is deciding to go ahead with the CBD Rail Loop Link. That’s a pretty mighty about face for the government, and an excellent outcome for Auckland. It’s also a rather hefty bill, for what Gerry Brownlee still calls a short little loop of rail, but it really is a vital one. The rail loop Link will do several things – connect to Britomart so that trains can run straight through, instead of dead-heading, and hence allowing a much faster turnaround for departures. Much needed, Auckland! It also means that they’ll have to dig up QEII square yet again, demolish the crappy shopping centre there, and dig an almighty great trench up Nelson St for about 5 years, so there will be tears before bedtime from Aucklanders for years, once it eventually gets underway.

But there is one thing. I’ve always had my doubts about whether the route is right. Is it wise to try and get a rail station up to Karangahape Road? If Auckland’s topography is hills and valleys falling down to the waterfront, then is running a route right up a ridge really the best answer? Or would it make more sense to have it running up a gully (like Queen St – that is a simple gully) and then tunnel under the ridges instead?

There is of course one other thing – the inability of Wellington to get its way with a (far more logical) Light Rail system, especially when we are already a city that works well with rail, and Auckland is intrinsically more car-ridden.

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