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Rail working party makes final recommendations

26 August 2011

Rail working party makes final recommendations on Hamilton to Auckland service

The region is one step closer to a Hamilton-Auckland passenger rail service, with a multiagency working party today recommending that it proceed to consultation.

The recommendations for the passenger rail service were finalised late this afternoon and will be provided in a report for the consideration of partner councils in the next month.

If adopted following public consultation, a Silver Fern service could run between Frankton railway station in Hamilton and via The Strand to Newmarket in Auckland at peak times. The off-peak service could operate between Frankton in Hamilton and Britomart railway station in Auckland.

It is proposed the 96-passenger Silver Fern railcar would stop at a station to be built at The Base, as well as at stations in Huntly, Te Kauwhata, Tuakau, Papatoetoe, The Strand and Newmarket.

Patronage estimates for the proposed peak service suggest there could be approximately 130 passengers a day. Fares could cost up to $24 one way, with the trip from Hamilton to Auckland taking approximately two hours.

Working party chairman Norm Barker said: "Today's decisions mark a significant milestone for this group, which has taken into consideration the results of a community survey, as well as volumes of information and the findings of extensive research.

"These recommendations have not been made without substantial consultation, discussion and consideration by the working party," Cr Barker said.

"However, this is far from a done deal. We're recommending the preferred service option be taken to the public by the Waikato regional, Hamilton city, Waipa and Waikato district councils for feedback, so the community will have its opportunity to have a say.

"Combined with the investigations undertaken over the past year, it will inform decisions to be made by the councils as part of their Long Term Plan considerations next year."

If endorsed by the public, details for the implementation of the service would need to be worked through before the service would begin.

"We're also carrying out further work to show the economic and social benefits this service would provide to Auckland - reducing congestion, improving road safety and providing additional services for their commuters too," Cr Barker said.

The working party recommendations included:
* Auckland Council be approached to contribute funding to the proposed service.
* That the proposed two year pilot trial rail service proceed to public consultation through the 2012-2022 Long Term Plans of all partner councils.
* That a funding application, including a full business case, be prepared by 15 October 2011 for the 2012-2022 Regional Land Transport Programme.
* That a targeted differential rate be levied by the Waikato Regional Council for the proposed service.
* Hamilton city and Waikato district councils take responsibility for any necessary upgrades to train stations prior to the start-up of the proposed service.

The working party comprises representatives from Waikato Regional Council, Auckland Council, Hamilton City Council, Waipa District Council and Waikato District Council, as well as members representing the NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and Campaign for Better Transport.


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