Some potentially good news in a NZ Herald article today on the proposed Hamilton to Auckland railway service.
KiwiRail has agreed to present a proposal to Hamilton City within weeks on a trial daily passenger service to and from Auckland.
“We are refining a proposal to run a service using the Silver Fern railcars between Hamilton and Auckland on a trial basis,” spokesman Kevin Ramshaw said last night.
As far as I know the main thing holding this back still is whether Environment Waikato (the regional council) will stump up with some money to help run the service. Hamilton City Council, whose job doesn’t actually technically extend to funding public transport services, seems fairly keen on the idea and may even come up with a bit of money themselves. There has been a bit more pressure put on Environment Waikato in recent times to stump up with the funding, so hopefully it’s not an impossibility.
The proposed service is looking a bit better now too: not just one train from Hamilton to Auckland in the morning, and another one back in the evening:
He said the proposal would be based on two return services daily which, combined with the long-distance Overlander, would offer Waikato residents three trains a day to Auckland.
Mr Macpherson said that if KiwiRail could produce a scheme the council could afford, the trial could begin late this year or early in 2010, with trains possibly stopping at Huntly, Te Kauwhata, and Papatoetoe (for a bus connection to Auckland Airport) en route to Britomart or Newmarket.
While that “…or Newmarket” is a bit worrying (the service will be a failure if it does not go right through to Britomart), having an Auckland to Hamilton train leave Auckland at around 9am, and a Hamilton to Auckland train leaving Hamilton at around 3pm would be really useful for people in Auckland making day-trips for business or other reasons. I certainly hope that is what is meant by two return services daily.
The whole idea seems pretty popular with the locals too:
Although the Environment Waikato regional council failed to include a rail service in its list of three-yearly funding applications to the Transport Agency, 85 per cent of about 700 Hamilton residents told a city-sponsored survey they believed it would be a good idea and 43 per cent expected to use it.