It's full steam ahead to get the new Hamilton to Auckland commuter train service into operation.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford and representatives from Hamilton and Waikato Councils took a tour of KiwiRail's Hutt workshops this afternoon.

KiwiRail is currently refurbishing carriages for the service, that will begin operation next year.

It has refurbished three locomotives that will pull the train and work is underway on 11 carriages.

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In December NZ Transport Agency announced it had approved the business case and funding for the trains.

Three local councils also approved their own funding for the service.

Twyford said the service will give the growing number of people commuting between Hamilton and Auckland a choice.

"Not only will this service take the stress out of commuting, but the carriages will be comfortable and equipped with Wi-Fi, which allow passengers to use the travel time productively.

"Auckland and Waikato are booming and it's important we build the right infrastructure to unlock their potential.

"The five-year trial was estimated to cost $78.2 million, including $68.4m from the NZTA and $9.8m from local authorities.

One of the refurbished carriages in the Hutt workshop. Photo / NZME
One of the refurbished carriages in the Hutt workshop. Photo / NZME

The service would start in Hamilton at Frankton then go to The Base in Rotokauri before going on to Huntly and stopping in Papakura in Auckland, where Auckland passengers change to the city's electric trains to travel to Britomart and stops along the way.

It will run twice a day, leaving at around 5am and 7am, costing passengers $40 for a round trip.The service would start with a four-carriage train which can carry 150 passengers each way.

As demand grows, it is expected to be expanded to a five-carriage train carrying up to 200 passengers.