Rapid-rail plan pro­posed for 2025

North Waikato News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - *CON­TIN­UED FROM P1

If the trial suc­ceeds, the plan would see con­struc­tion of a rapid-rail ser­vice start in 2025.

It would cost $400m and would op­er­ate higher-speed tilt­ing trains, cut­ting travel time be­tween Auck­land and Hamil­ton to 1 hour 30 min­utes.

The Whanga­marino Wet­land bot­tle­neck in North Waikato has long been held as ham­per­ing speedy travel be­tween the two cities.

The ex­ist­ing track be­tween Mercer and Te Kauwhata would con­tinue to op­er­ate for freight.

Waikato District Coun­cil Mayor Al­lan San­son said the track needs to move closer to State High­way 1, which runs par­al­lel to the main trunk line.

‘‘That’s where it needs to go and ev­ery­one re­alises that, but who is go­ing to pay for it?’’ San­son said.

‘‘If the state is go­ing to pay for it or some­body else other than my ratepay­ers, I’d be very keen to sup­port that ap­proach.’’

San­son said that even the trial is an­other two years away; road traf­fic will likely get worse in that time.

‘‘When you start to look at com­pa­nies that do move staff to Auck­land on a daily ba­sis for busi­ness, they are telling us it is any­where from two-and-a-half to three hours a day, each way, of lost pro­duc­tiv­ity.’’

In May, Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil’s strat­egy and pol­icy com­mit­tee backed a re­port to de­velop a strate­gic busi­ness case to look at the prob­lems, ben­e­fits and op­tions of the rail net­work.

It will be pre­sented to the Re­gional Trans­port Com­mit­tee for ap­proval in Septem­ber.

SUP­PLIED

Greater Auck­land wants rail up­grades to take tilt­ing trains (file photo).

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