The first Hamilton passenger train remains on track to roll out of Frankton heading north to Auckland in less than a year, despite a $13 million cost increase to jump start the service.
The cost increase includes $3m for a pedestrian overbridge from the new Rotokauri transport centre to The Base, Te Rapa, after NZTA said it was a must for safety.
The council's initial plan was to install a pedestrian crossing and barrier arms at a much lower cost, but Hamilton City councillor Dave Macpherson said NZTA said it was not safe enough.
The rest of the cost increase is $10m put aside as a contingency.
Mr Macpherson, who sits on the Regional Transport Committee, said that while there has been an increase in spend, costs have also been diverted from fully developing the Rotokauri transport centre until a future date.
"We will know soon if we have contingency spending to spare, which we may use on the Huntly station which may have a bit of an overspend due to the amount of work that is required there," Mr Macpherson said.
"It is basically because we have never done this stuff before, not even KiwiRail has done this in the last 40-50 years.
"The Huntly platform requires raising to be the correct height like the Frankton station, and improve the car parking for security, but Huntly's main benefit is they already have an overhead bridge."
Mr Macpherson said the next step in the service would be to get a rail station constructed in Te Kauwhata, before looking at electrifying the whole track.
"They are currently extending the electrification of the Auckland line to Pukekohe which is going to take about three years, what we are going to argue for is that they keep electrifying all the way to Te Rapa.
"We believe in 10 to 12 years we could see that sort of service."
Mr Macpherson said along with the Hamilton to Auckland rail, early talks are also beginning on the metro rail spatial plan, which will be a train service between Hamilton, and its Waikato neighbours including Te Awamutu, Cambridge, and Morrinsville.
Rail Opportunity Network spokeswoman Susan Trodden said the costs being blown out was disappointing, but were to be expected with a project like this.
Like Mr Macpherson, Ms Trodden said she would like to see steps of electrification start to take place on the main line.
"Once the line has been established there has to be a serious consideration of extending the service out to the towns like Te Awamutu and Cambridge, while also working on electrification," Ms Trodden said.
"There is a sense that rail is an old outdated mode of transport and that the rest of the world has moved on, but we haven't even got to the rail stage yet."
Ms Trodden said in the long term a Hamilton city train service could connect with Hamilton Airport.
The service is due to start by June 2020, with two return services will operate each weekday at peak travel times, with one return service on Saturday.
The route will start at Frankton in Hamilton, stopping at The Base before going onto Huntly and stopping finally at Papakura, where users switch to the Auckland electric train service.