First peek at new Hamilton to Auckland train

By Kawe Roes

It's full steam ahead to get the new Hamilton to Auckland commuter train service on track. 

Nearly $80mil is being spent on the five-year trial which will see modern additions like WiFi and a café aboard the train.

So who will benefit from the new train?

Eric Wilson (Ngāti Hauā) lives in Waharoa near Matamata in the Waikato and a round trip to work in Auckland is 300km.

"I won't need to travel all the way from home from Waharoa to Auckland.  It will be a much shorter route than I normally take on a daily basis."

PHOTO: Map showing the train journey from Hamilton to Papakura where passengers will need to change to another train to get into Auckland.

"At the moment I travel to Papakura, I drive there, it's about an hour and a half drive from home in Waharoa given the traffic and roading and construction that is happening at the moment...so it's two and three-quarter hours one way."

"I'd really like the ability to have wifi on the trains so you can do some work and that becomes part of work. It takes about an hour and a quarter from Papakura or thereabouts into Britomart, same on the reverse."

"You can see how much a person like me who does a lot of travelling- I look forward to going on a train."

PHOTO: This is one of 11 carriages to make up this new KiwiRail train under refurbishment in Wellington. 

The trip will take about an hour and a half from Hamilton to Papakura where passengers will need to change trains to get to downtown Auckland.  Four stations are planned at Frankton, the Base, Huntly and Papakura. 

Future commuters can expect to pay $12.20 one way to travel from Hamilton to Papakura.  From Papakura, commuters would then need to buy a ticket to travel on the Auckland rail network if they wish to travel on to Britomart.

The nearly hour and 20 minute long trip will have carriages with wifi, a cafeteria, USB power points, toilets and bike racks when the service is set to launch next March.

The first trains will carry 150-200 passengers per trip, depending on the number of carriages used.  Projected passenger demand is 20,600 annually for the first year increasing to 103,000 by the third year.