As commuters face delays and frustrations with aging infrastructure, the government in Auckland, New Zealand has announced plans to invest more than $1 billion in its regional rail system.
"Giant strides are being made to upgrade the city's rail network. Project Dart, a $600 million, Government-funded programme, is full steam ahead upgrading infrastructure - double-tracking on the western line, new signalling and new and refurbished stations - ahead of the billion dollar-plus electrification of the network from Papakura to Swanson. ARTA, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority responsible for passenger transport, is pouring more money into stations on the southern and eastern lines. All up, it's the biggest investment in railways since the early-80s.
But commuters live with the here and now. So little was invested for so long that the revival is like following the career of injury-hit Shane Bond - you take the rough with the smooth.
That can mean noisy, rattly carriages with dodgy air conditioning and rudimentary seating. Or trains running late due to signalling failures or a breakdown. Or the "one lane bridge factor" - waiting while a train coming the other way negotiates a single-track section of the network. While double-tracking of the western line is gathering pace, the work itself brings delays. Things will get worse before they get better: Construction of a new station at New Lynn and double tracking between New Lynn and Avondale is expected to bring months of frustration. Like NZ cricket supporters, you've got to have faith. And things are much, much better for a passenger service which was just about extinct a decade ago."