Canterbury Regional Council says a proposal to introduce a commuter rail service between Rangiora and Christchurch would not involve large sums of money.
The council is to investigate the viability of the idea as a way of easing chronic rush-hour traffic congestion north of the city.
Commissioner Rex Williams said the service would be intended only to fill a gap over the next five years while improvements are made to the city's northern motorways.
He said it would involve using the existing main trunk line and stations, and borrowing surplus trains and wagons from KiwiRail.
Mr Williams said a study should be completed by the end of June.