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Rail service options to be investigated

The multi-agency Rail Working Group looking at the feasibility of a new Hamilton-Auckland passenger rail service yesterday asked for further investigations into three options for advancing the inter-regional service.

Group chairman Norm Barker of Environment Waikato said if logistical, operational and infrastructural details could be worked through, a twice-daily service could be up and running as early as next year, but only if there was community support for funding it.

The three options are:

  • A refurbished Silver Fern railcar service from Hamilton with people transferring onto the existing Auckland MAXX urban rail service, preferably at Papakura, to complete the trip into Auckland’s central Britomart station.
  • Extending some existing Auckland MAXX services, both peak and off-peak, so the services that currently start in Pukekohe could originate in Hamilton. This option would require the addition of two commuter carriages specially fitted-out for longer journeys.
  • A composite service using the Silver Fern railcar to Pukekohe or Papakura where the railcar would be coupled to the MAXX service into Britomart. This option poses the most challenges and would be most unlikely to proceed to a final recommendation.

“Auckland transport officials yesterday suggested the best option from their perspective would be the Silver Fern service to Papakura from where commuters would transfer to the MAXX service leaving for the city centre and other stations on the urban network every 10 minutes,” Cr Barker said.

“But until the working group sees the detailed analysis of the proposed service and costings for carriage refurbishment, platform and other infrastructure upgrades, it’s too soon to say if that is the best option.”

The working group agreed each option would ideally need to provide for an early morning commuter service and a mid-morning service for shopping and leisure trips to the city, with both returning later in the day. It is estimated the trip would take 2 hours 15 minutes.

The working group will agree on a preferred option in August/September this year, with councils formally consulting with the public during the first half of the 2012 calendar year.

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