5 Sep 2018

A train between Hamilton and Auckland?

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:28 pm on 5 September 2018

A group promoting a commuter train service between Hamilton and Auckland says it's feeling confident an initial service will get the green light.

Afternoon rush hour traffic out of central Auckland.

Afternoon rush hour traffic out of central Auckland. Photo: 123rf.com

A decision on funding is likely to be made by the New Zealand Transport Agency early next month.

Susan Trodden from the Rail Opportunity Network (Tron) said with high house prices forcing more people to live out of Auckland, a commuter train stopping at towns between Hamilton and Auckland made sense.

She said five trains each way a day would be great and ten would be better, but at this stage having two each way would be a good start.

"Get the commuters off the road and see how that goes."

Ms Trodden said the success of the service would depend on the trip taking less than two hours, so it was faster than by car.

"We need to get it to 90 minutes but you have to start somewhere."

She said the price would have to be about the same as parking a car in Auckland for the day.

The logical starting point would be at the Frankton Station in Hamilton until a proposed new platform and park and ride is built next to The Base Shopping Centre at Te Rapa, north of the city centre, Ms Trodden said.

More people were coming on board with the idea of a commuter train service, including KiwiRail, the city and regional council and government, she said

"Many of the people only two years ago who said it would never happen, you are dreaming, rail is100 years old, you are wasting your time, are now saying, yes you are maybe right, and yes we need to do this."

She believed there were now no obstacles in the way in terms or legislation, money was available for it and it was a priority of the government.

Tron estimated between 250-300 people would use the service straight away and about 3000 people were commuting to Auckland at least once during the week.  

"It doesn't take into account people visiting Auckland to see family and friends or for leisure along with tourists and students."