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Waikato District Mayor welcomes passenger rail funding

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson says central government funding for a five-year trial Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail service starting in March 2020 is good news for the district.

“We’re one of the fastest-growing districts in the country. A choice of transport for residents needing to commute to Auckland or Hamilton is a significant contribution to our Council’s vision of working to build liveable, thriving and connected communities as we grow,” he says.

“We look forward to the details of the NZ Transport Agency Board decision to understand all the implications for our district and our Council. We’re encouraged that, as well announcing the funding for a trial service stopping in Huntly, the Minister says future stations may include Te Kauwhata, Pokeno and Tuakau. This would indicate the possibilities for a wider rail network serving our growing population in the future.”

Transport Minister Phyl Twyford announced this morning that the NZ Transport Agency Board has approved a business case for the fit-out of rolling stock and the detailed design of infrastructure for a trial commuter rail service from Frankton and The Base in Hamilton, stopping in Huntly, and then in Papakura, where passengers could change onto the Auckland Public Transport Network. He said future stops may include Te Kauwhata, Pokeno and Tuakau.

He said the cost of the five year trial is estimated at $78.2 million, including $68.4 million from the NZ Transport Agency and $9.8 million from local authorities.

At a meeting late last month, Waikato District Council agreed that $240,000 Long Term Plan funding would be allocated for the development of facilities at the Huntly rail station, such as shelter, lighting, CCTV, pedestrian access and a park-and-ride, to meet the requirements of the business case for the Hamilton to Auckland trial passenger rail service. It agreed a business case should be prepared in year 3 of the start-up passenger rail service to consider a train station at Te Kauwhata.

The Council also supported having a passenger rail facility connecting Pokeno and Tuakau to Pukekohe and understood that this would be given further consideration through the development of a Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan.

“We will be advocating strongly for this” says Mayor Sanson.

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