Government ministers turned up at the KiwiRail yards in Southdown, near Onehunga, yesterday with their best grins on display.
"There's a song the Deputy Prime Minister has taught me to know well," said a remarkably happy Transport Minister Phil Twyford. He was addressing a crowd of railway workers, engineers, officials and politicians, all squeezed into a marquee erected in the middle of the very windy freight yard.
"It's very relevant to coalition politics," said Twyford. "It's called 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'."
The crowd dutifully laughed. "But it turns out," Twyford added, "that you can with rail. This is the issue on which all three parties in Government agree."
Winston Peters, the deputy PM in question, favoured him with a smile.
They were to there to announce a start to more than $1 billion of work on four rail projects for Auckland.
Peters, in his speech, said 10 years ago there were 8 million rail passenger trips in Auckland and now there are 22 million. The new projects, he said, would create 400 jobs and work for local suppliers.
He said to the Auckland mayor, Phil Goff, "This is so good, Phil, I think I should be the damn mayor."
Was it a threat? A promise? He walked off the stage chuckling, as is his wont.
Twyford said the only way to grow the new urban areas in the south without "jamming up" the motorway completely was with rail. It was also a critical tool for addressing climate change.
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"The revitalisation of rail is one of the things I am most proud of. We are entering a golden age of rail."
KiwiRail CEO Greg Miller said the work starting now would allow those 22 million trips to grow to 40 million.
Even the National Party was happyish. "They're great projects," transport spokesman Chris Bishop said afterwards, although the Government was "not moving fast enough".
The four projects are:
• $315 million for a third rail line between Wiri and Quay Park (the port), an essential efficiency project for commuter and freight trains on the Southern Line. The contract has gone to Downers.
• $371m to extend electrification to Pukekohe.
• $247m for stations, parking and other services in the fast-growing centre of Drury.
• $183m to replace 60km of worn-out sections on the existing lines.
Is the Government moving fast enough? Bishop pointed out National wants to build a fourth line to Wiri at the same time as the third. Twyford said that's not the "most cost-effective option". They're doing the groundwork now to build that fourth line later.
Miller said it was a question of money, or, as he put it, "the capital quantum".
Perhaps you can't always get everything you want after all.