NZ Transport Agency approves Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail service construction

A Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail service is now a reality, with the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) approving funding for its construction.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced on Friday funding had been approved for the implementation of the service. It includes construction and operation funding of $92.37 million, made up of $79.8m from the NZTA and $12.57m from local authorities.

He said the service is an "important first step" in strengthening the connection between the two cities.

"We know more and more people are commuting between Hamilton and Auckland, and this service will give them a real choice between being stuck in traffic or relaxing on the train."

The service will initially carry 150 passengers - with two morning trains and two afternoon. Twyford said it can later be expanded to 200 passengers as demand grows.

He said the units will also have WiFi.

"Auckland and the Waikato are booming and it's important we build the right infrastructure to unlock their potential."

In November, Waikato councillors backed the business case for the service.

The rail service will stop in Hamilton at Frankton and the Base in Rotokauri, before heading onto Huntly, and finally to Papakura in Auckland. Future stops may include, Te Kauwhata, Pokeno and Tuakau.

The service is expected to roll out in mid-2020.