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Low-cost train proposal a winner

11 October 2017

Fancy being able to jump on a train in Hamilton, relax for two hours, and reach your job in Auckland by 8.30am?

A two-hour train journey to Britomart could cost as little as $25 for a return ticket if the government and local authorities supported such a service, according to a new report prepared by Waikato Management School's Institute for Business Research.

The report was commissioned by The Rail Opportunity Network (TRON), and co-authored by Waikato's Professor of Economics Frank Scrimgeour.

"This shows a commuter train is cost-effective between the two cities,” said TRON Chair Rob Weir. "We expect transport will be the subject of negotiations to form the new Government and this project uses current infrastructure to address congestion, road safety, environmental impacts and productivity.”

The report is based on a forecasted 200 passengers per day, and a recent survey cited by the Institute of Business research shows patronage may well exceed that.

Central government and local authorities would need to provide funding of $630,000 a year to cover operating costs, with the remaining $630,000 covered by train fares. 

TRON proposes that this low-cost service be established and that once demand is clear, that a full business case be pursued for fast rail between the two cities.

The costed proposal involves changing trains in South Auckland and would take around two hours to reach Britomart through peak-hour traffic - a journey that often takes three hours or more by car.

The report suggests a service departing Frankton, Hamilton at 6am, stopping to pick up passengers at The Base and Tuakau, stopping at Eastern Line stations along the way, and arriving at Britomart by 8.08am.

This would be followed by a second service departing Hamilton at 6.30am and arriving at 8.48am, which would also pick up passengers from Huntly.

“The finer details can always be adjusted, but we wanted to put up a viable option so decision-makers could see just how practical and affordable a commuter train is,” said Susan Trodden, media spokesperson for TRON.

“Preventing just one road death or serious injury would easily pay for the funding required, never mind the value of improving people’s lives, which is priceless,” she added.

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