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Hamilton City Council gives green light to commuter rail

Hamilton City Council gives green light to commuter rail proposal

Hamilton City Council’s Growth and Infrastructure Committee yesterday endorsed a business case for a start-up passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland.

The business case will be submitted to the NZ Transport Agency for a funding decision at their meeting on 14 December 2018.

If funding is approved by the Agency, the Council will proceed with developing a rail station and park-and-ride facility near The Base in Rotokauri, using funding already allocated in the Council’s 2018-28 10-Year Plan.

Councillor Dave Macpherson, Chair of the Committee, says mass transit options are essential to managing congestion and supporting population and economic growth in the Hamilton to Auckland corridor.

“This would be great for Hamilton and the region and it will never be cheaper to get this going than right now. Growth is inevitable and as we look to a regional population of half a million people in the next few decades we need to be ready. We don’t want to have the same issues we see in other cities which face massive costs trying to retrofit rail or bus services,” Cr Macpherson says.

“The key to bringing this together has been collaboration and co-operation, not just between councils in the region, but between central Government and its agencies.

“Our 10-Year Plan supported this concept and if the Transport Agency decides to proceed we can deliver our share of this service within existing budgets,” Cr Macpherson says.

The start-up service could be operating as early as 2020, providing two daily return weekday services between Hamilton (Frankton and Rotokauri), Huntly and Papakura. A journey time of 88 minutes between Frankton and Papakura is predicted, with one-way fares $12.20 to Papakura or $18.40 to Auckland’s Britomart. The service to Britomart would require a transfer at Papakura and would have a total travel time from Hamilton of two hours and 30 minutes.

Total funding needed for the project is $76.27 million over the first six years, from 2019 to 2024. Local government will contribute $9.46m of that with the remaining $66.81 million coming from central government's National Land Transport Fund.

In recent weeks the business case has received endorsement from the Waikato Regional Council and Waikato District Council.

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