Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Kingi Tuheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII and other VIPs celebrated the new Hamilton-Auckland train service last week and took a ride with it to Huntly last Thursday.
Ardern expressed excitement about the Waikato entering a new era of public transport: "I hope one day that I can put [daughter] Neve Te Aroha on this train to visit her grandparents."
With the train being able to avoid 73,000 car trips annually, the Prime Minister highlighted the positive contribution the train would make environmentally.
"Due to the challenge of climate change we must move to alternative transport. Te Huia is a good opportunity."
Hamilton East MP Jamie Strange is looking forward to taking the train for business trips and family weekend excursions, and highlighted the importance of the new public service.
"Te Huia will play a key role in uniting the Waikato and Auckland labour markets. We will see significant growth, economic and people-wise, and due to the train, people are able to live, work and play along the [rail] corridor."
Hamilton West MP Dr Gaurav Sharma also was excited about Waikato's new connection to Auckland.
"I can't wait to use the train myself as I have to go to Auckland for jobs quite regularly and due to the Wi-Fi connection I can also be productive while travelling. Also, by taking the car, the beauty of the Waikato just goes past you unnoticed, with the train you can take it all in."
The first Hamilton-to-Auckland service for paying passengers will be on Tuesday, April 6. From then the regular Monday to Friday, Te Huia commuter service will depart Frankton at 5.46am and 6.28am, stopping at Rotokauri and Huntly.
The return service will depart from Papakura at 4.42pm and 6.25pm. Bee Card fares are $12.20 from Hamilton and $7.80 from Huntly. Cash fares are available.
The weekday service will get passengers to Papakura in time for the start of the working day. At Papakura, Waikato passengers may join the AT Metro Southern Line electric rail service to travel into Auckland.
Passengers transferring to the AT Metro service will need to pay a separate fare from Papakura with an AT HOP card or buy a paper ticket for the Auckland Transport Metro network. Total travel time from Hamilton to Britomart in Auckland is expected to be 140 minutes.