A passenger rail service between Auckland and Hamilton is a step closer with the NZ Transport Agency Board approving a business case, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today.
Mr Twyford hailed the approval as an exciting step towards the planned roll out of a five-year trial service to begin in March 2020.
"We know more and more people are commuting between Hamilton and Auckland, and introducing this trial service will give them a choice in how they do that,” Mr Twyford said.
The total cost of the five-year trial, including the service operated by KiwiRail, is estimated at $78.2 million, including $68.4 million from the NZ Transport Agency and $9.8 million from local authorities.
The business case allows for the fit-out of rolling stock and the detailed design of infrastructure.
"The Government is committed to investing close to $4 billion in public transport, rapid transit and metro rail across New Zealand. This trial service will demonstrate how investing in public transport can help manage growth and shape our towns and cities," Mr Twyford said.
"It would stop in Hamilton at Frankton and The Base in Rotokauri before going onto Huntly and finally stopping in Papakura in Auckland, where passengers can change onto the Auckland Public Transport Network. Future stops may include, Te Kauwhata, Pokeno and Tuakau.
"A new station including a platform and Park & Ride parking area will be created as part of the Rotokauri rail stop and the Huntly platform will need to be upgraded.
"The service 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,” Phil Twyford said.
NZTA will now work with local councils and KiwiRail to develop a pre-implementation plan in early 2019.