Waikato councils will consider the business case for a start-up Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail service expected to begin in 2020, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced on Thursday.
The Waikato Regional Transport Committee last week voted unanimously to include the proposed rail service in its local land transport plan. It will now be considered by Waikato Regional Council, the Waikato District Council and the Hamilton City Council.
Phil Twyford said the final business case approved by the New Zealand Transport Agency proposed a start-up service costing $57.77 million over the next three years.
“The initial service, intended to start in March 2020, would be operated by KiwiRail and include a northbound morning peak service and a southbound evening peak service.
“It would stop at Frankton, The Base, Huntly and Papakura. The Huntly platform would need to be upgraded and a new island platform would be needed at The Base.
“It would start with a four-carriage train which can carry 150 passengers each way. As demand grows, it would be expanded to a five-carriage train carrying up to 200 passengers.
“Our Government is committed to developing transport options in our urban areas by investing close to $4 billion in public transport, rapid transit and metro rail across the country through the National Land Transport Fund in the next three years.
“Instead of transport investment trying to play catch up, we need to lead growth and shape our towns and cities. More people are commuting between Hamilton and Auckland, and introducing this service will give them a choice in how they do that,” Phil Twyford said.
The NZTA Board will consider whether to fund the proposed start-up passenger rail service in December after the councils have made their decisions.