21 April 2024

Govt to explore Ham-Akl rapid rail potential

The government will undertake a business case study to investigate the potential for rapid rail between Hamilton and Auckland.

This was announced this afternoon by Transport Minister Phil Twyford while releasing the business case findings of this rapid rail service potential to a selected Zoom gathering.

Phil Twyford
Phil Twyford, Transport Minister

Acknowledging the need to improve linkage of Hamilton with the supercity Auckland CBD, the Minister informed the government would be exploring four possible scenarios in this business case: ranging from making improvements to existing rail alignments (Scenario A & B), to building a new rail corridor alongside the existing rail corridor(Scenario C & D).  Eventually, there are possibilities of extending faster rail service to Tauranga as well.

Each scenario is more expensive and ambitious than the other and costs range from $3 billion to $15 billion plus, and reduces the journey time.

Explaining why rapid rail and why now, the Minister says “the business case that has been done really presents a strong case for further investigations and further analysis of this project. It is very clear from the business case that compared to other mass transport options, rail made much more meaningful contribution to each of the investment objectives. And we also know that passenger rail is very powerful in unlocking the gridlock of our larger cities and increasing productivity. More people will take a train and free up the roads for freight and everyone else who has to drive.”

Elaborating on the benefits of a fast and efficient link between these two major growth areas, Hamilton and Auckland the Minister  said “Rapid rail will significantly reduce journey times, improve  reliability, increase access, reduce congestion, reduce emissions support growth and economic recovery.

Future rail scenarios
Future rail scenarios

“Enhancing connectivity between two cities, will increase access to labour market, to education, …and also has potential to take pressure off the Auckland housing market and to spur growth through out the corridor.”

Hamilton List MP, Jamie Strange, who hosted the event, has described this connectivity as a “game -changer for this region.”

He told NewsViews ” This is a game- changer for our region, creating a higher level of connectivity with Auckland and the golden traingle. This development will play a key role in cementing Hamilton’s population growth over the coming years, as labour markets unite. The Hamilton to Auckland corridor work, which started after the election in 2017, has led to this business case.”

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate has also welcomed today’s announcement as “exciting” and a “natural extension” to the work already underway. But “let’s not jump the gun because it is very early days”.

“It’s early days but this is very exciting. Our Council has been very focussed for some time on ensuring we do everything possible to future-proof our city and leverage our proximity to Auckland.  We are two very fast-growing cities and it makes economic sense for government and other agencies to be thinking and planning now for future transport networks,” Mayor Southgate said.

“Today’s announcement reinforces the importance the government puts on connectivity between our two cities. I welcome anything that will help Hamilton better realise its economic potential while providing better, more sustainable transport choices.”

Hamilton would not contribute financially to the business case but expected to be heavily involved in conversations going forward, she added.

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