Waikato Regional Council is planning to roll out more Te Huia commuter train services between Hamilton and Auckland in response to public feedback as part of council's long term plan.
More than 80 per cent of all submissions to the plan were on the proposal to extend the new Waikato to Auckland passenger rail service. Of those 1240 submissions, 95 per cent were in favour of improvements to the service with many wanting it to happen sooner than the proposed 2023/24 timeframe.
The regular Monday to Friday commuter service departs Frankton at 5.46am and 6.28am, the return service departs from Papakura at 4.42pm and 6.25pm. There is also a Saturday service in place departing Frankton at 7.41am and departing Papakura at 6.35pm.
Due to construction on the track for the Pukekohe to Papakura Electrification and CityRail Link projects, there are currently no Saturday services on May 29, June 12 and June 26.
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Following the community feedback, regional councillors have now decided an additional inter-peak service trialling for 12 months, starting no sooner December. The late starting date for the trail is set due to lead-in times to complete the required work to implement the service, including confirmation of the operating cost, 75.5 per cent government subsidy and timetable.
Councillors have also approved an extension of Saturday Te Huia services to The Strand, in Auckland's CBD, rather than terminating at Papakura, at a cost of $10,000 per annum. A start date for the extended service is to be confirmed, pending completion of the necessary operational requirements.
Regional council chief executive Chris McLay says: "Almost 1500 submissions were received by the council on our long term plan proposals – an increase of 454 per cent on 2018. It's been a long journey to develop this 10-year plan and, while there's still work to do, we've reached a major milestone this week."
On Tuesday council has deliberated on its 2021-2031 Long Term Plan and the budget decisions will be ratified at next month's meeting of council when the long term plan is adopted.
The $98 million train service launched April 6 and has so far taken 5000 passengers in total for rides between the Waikato and New Zealand's biggest city.
A trip on Te Huia currently takes about 98 minutes from Hamilton to Papakura and then there is a further 50-minute ride on a different train to get from Papakura to Britomart. The total journey from Rotokauri to Britomart in Auckland will take an estimated two hours 30 minutes.