Fancy an early-morning train ride from Hamilton to Auckland?
From 5.46am tomorrow, the country’s newest passenger train service will be taking its first official trip with members of the public. It's hoped it would ease some traffic on the roads, with 8000 people a day commuting between Auckland and Waikato.
Te Huia will be running return services from Frankton to Papakura, via Rotokauri and Huntly, twice a day during the week, and once on some Saturdays.
A trip from Frankton to Britomart in Auckland’s CBD will take about two hours and a half, with a transfer at Papakura Station.
For those wanting to travel from Frankton to Papakura, the trip will take about an hour and a half.
Since its unveiling late last month, the train service has drawn mixed reviews.
Some Hamilton residents told 1 NEWS the length of the journey would be longer than their normal commute. Others weren’t keen on having to make a transfer at Papakura.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, however, said there was a clear need for the train.
"We fully expect that over time we'll build patronage and bring passengers,” she said.
“But it is really travelling at peak times and it is travelling between two growing cities where we know people are living and working across the two."
Waikato Regional Council chair Russ Rimmington said at the train’s unveiling the service would be a first step in the “renaissance of rail”.
Rimmington says the service can accommodate 300 people per day over two services at full capacity. Te Huia is expected to replace up to 73,000 return car trips between Hamilton and Auckland every year.
When asked by 1 NEWS if the train was at risk of becoming “a ghost train” if it didn’t prove popular, he rejected the notion.
“No, it won’t do that because we’ll give the tickets away if necessary. But, I don’t think that will be the case because the Waikato is growing so quickly.”
Rimmington added, “this won’t fail, this will grow from success to success”.
The Government invested over $80 million for the service, with another $12 million coming from local authorities.