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Hamiltonians could be commuting by train to Auckland by March 2020 as the most detailed view of the potential service yet is revealed ahead of a crucial vote on its future.
It could see up to 150 passengers travelling from Frankton to Papakura stations twice in the morning from 5:30-7am week days, stopping at Rotokauri and Huntly stations along the way.
The service would take 91 minutes, including stoppage times at stations along the route. The travel time to Britomart from Frankton is longer, taking 2 hours and 29 minutes or 2 hours and 20 minutes leaving from Rotokauri.
Passengers will have to transfer to another train once they reach Papakura to travel on to Britomart.
Details of the service, including its long awaited business case have been outlined to the Waikato Regional Council's regional transport committee.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ
The Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail service should be up and running in 2020, funding pending.
The committee will vote for the passenger rail service to be included as a new activity in the Regional Council's 2015-2045 Regional Land Transport Plan when it meets on November 5.
There are also plans for a daily return service during weekends with the exception of Sunday services which may not be provided for the first three years.
Total funding needed for the project is $81.7 million. Local government will contribute $10.98m of that with the remaining $70.8 million coming from central government's National Land Transport Fund.
Regional transport committee chairman Hugh Vercoe expected the proposal to get backing on Monday, and head to a full council meeting on November 21.
From there the case will be sent to NZTA's board for consideration.
The Waikato District Council and Hamilton City Council will also vote on the business case at their respective meetings this month and NZTA to consider the project in December.
"This is the cheapest way of getting people to Auckland," he said. Potential ticket prices are not covered in the document.
If NZTA approve the funding, Vercoe said they will then look to purchase carriages off Auckland Transport, which are currently sitting in storage in Taumarunui.
"Once we buy them, we then give them to Kiwi Rail, who will refurbish them and have them ready for this."
This process was expected to take 14 months, which would see the service begin operating in March 2020.
More projects would also have to be completed to get the service established.
These were the construction of a railway station in Rotokauri, upgrading existing railway facilities in Huntly, the modification and overhaul of trains and carriages by KiwiRail and constructing a maintenance facility for the trains in Te Rapa.
Hamilton based Labour list MP Jamie Strange said the rail service had a lot of public interest because of the difficulties in driving to Auckland.
"I think people have had enough of driving to Auckland and are looking for alternatives. It will be the start in terms of rail for this region."
Strange said the next step will be getting a rail service from Hamilton to Tauranga, which would great a 'golden triangle' between the three cities.
"That's the ultimate goal is to have a passenger rail service linking the golden triangle. This service here, if we get funding from NZTA would be the start."
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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