Rapid-rail plan proposed for 2025
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.
Greater Auckland wants rail upgrades to take tilting trains (file photo).