The NZ Transport Agency has approved funding for construction of the Hamilton to Auckland start-up rail service, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced on Friday.

This funding enables the implementation of the service. It includes construction and operation with funding of $92.37 million, made up of $79.80 million from the Transport Agency and $12.57 million from local authorities.

The minister says the service is an important first step to strengthening the connection between two of New Zealand's largest and fastest growing urban areas.

"We know more and more people are commuting between Hamilton and Auckland, and this service will give them a real choice between being stuck in traffic or relaxing on the train.

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"An important part of our transport policy is giving people options so they don't always have to take their car, freeing up the roads for those that have to drive.

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

"Our Government is tackling the long-term issues and investing nearly $4 billion in public transport, rapid transit and rail across New Zealand.

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

"The service will initially start with a four-carriage train which can carry 150 passengers - with two morning peak trains and two return afternoon peak trains. As demand grows, it can be expanded to a five-carriage train carrying up to 200 passengers," says Phil.

There will also be a single Saturday service.

The service is expected to roll out of Frankton in Hamilton in mid-2020, will stop at The Base in Rotokauri before going onto Huntly and finally stopping in Papakura in Auckland, where passengers can change onto the Auckland Public Transport Network. Future stops may include Te Kauwhata, Pōkeno and Tūākau.

Future improvements could come under the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor partnership, with further services and more stops.

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