A proposed passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland has taken another major leap forward, but will not be operating until the end of 2019.
Hamilton City Council staff have requested a final business case be brought before council in October for final approval.
The move is also aligned with the Waikato Regional Council, which on Tuesday morning approved funding in its 10-year plan, as long as the business case also comes to them for approval.
The regional council wants the NZ Transport Agency to approve a financial assistance rate of 75 per cent for operational expenditure and 100 per cent for capital expenditure for the train service.
"It is very clear what the commitment from central government is and what is required to deliver on the passenger rail service," said Central North Island Director for NZTA, Parekawhia McLean at the growth and infrastructure committee meeting on Tuesday.
Capital expenditure includes the costs of the locomotive, carriages and any upgrades needed.
The city council's part of the business case is limited to infrastructure such as the proposed park and ride at Rotokauri, located behind The Base which will include a 60m platform and more than 100 car parks.
Also, the Waikato District Council has proposed paying to upgrade of the Tuakau rail platform on the route. There were split views across the HCC table, however, as councillor James Casson had concerns about the viability of the project.
"The majority of people who travel to Auckland to work are not labourers and are not on the minimum wage and lots of them I would hesitate to say they would have company vehicles," Cr Casson said.
"This is six million dollars we are looking at over 10 years for around about 300 to 400 people."
Councillor Garry Mallett said the rail service will blow up in council's face.
"There is no benefit in terms of reducing congestion here," Cr Mallett said.
"This train is going to stop at Britomart, but you still need to get to where you are going so this is not point to point. I am very concerned about the uncertainty around how pricing is going to work."
"If we avoid this then we are dodging a bullet."
Councillor Dave Macpherson, who has advocated for the rail service for many years, said now is the best time to re-implement the passenger service.
"If we don't start it now, with a government that supports it I suggest it probably never will," Cr Macpherson said.
"This train is going to be the solution for some people and it is going to provide an alternative solution."
A passenger demand survey was ran as part of putting the business case together.
Out of a sample of 1104 respondent's 49 per cent are travelling between Waikato and Auckland at least once a month, with 17 per cent making the journey at least three times a week and 35 per cent making the journey at least once a week, and 61 per cent of people travelling at least once a month are willing to consider public transport.