Rail between Auckland and Hamilton will come at expense of the poor - advocacy group

A commuter rail line between Auckland and Hamilton could be one of the projects funded by the Government's new transport policy.

Such projects will be paid for by an increase in fuel tax, but opponents say the tax just adds to the burden of low income people.

A trip in a diesel train between Auckland and Hamilton takes two hours - but it's still quicker than driving the route in peak times.

That's what former Labour MP Sue Moroney has discovered during her campaign for commuter rail between the cities.

"Let's get people to Auckland and back in a couple of hours, instead of four hours," she said.

Rail will get funding from the transport budget for the first time ever under the Government's new land transport policy.

Ms Moroney today pitched to MPs the proposal for an interim diesel train service using the existing infrastructure.

It would get people from Hamilton to Newmarket in less than two hours, and she hopes it'll build demand for a rapid rail service in the future.

"In the future, we'll be able to then assess what the full cost is for rapid rail involving the whole golden triangle of Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland," she said.

Fonterra and Deloitte both support a commuter train from Hamilton to Auckland.

Deloitte said its Hamilton staff driving to Auckland for work need to leave at 5am to make a 9am meeting.

Ms Moroney says the line would help communities between the cities like Huntly.

"That is a community that could do with this boost quite frankly," she said.

The project would be paid for with an increase in petrol tax, which a poverty action group in Auckland says the burden of will fall on the poor.

"It will disproportionately affect low-income families. People with vans or low-efficient fuel vehicles will be paying around $135 extra a year," said Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Ricardo Menendez.

The Transport Minister disagrees.

"The thing that really hammers poor people is the lack of decent public transport that forces them into the most expensive transport choice, and that is owning a car," Phil Twyford said.

But advocates said people who work night shifts and live in places like south Auckland can't rely on public transport.