Today I welcomed the announcement that government will investigate the potential for rapid rail between Hamilton and Auckland.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the government intends investigating four possible scenarios, ranging from extending electrification of the existing route to building a new rail alignment, alongside the existing rail corridor. Each scenario would connect both city centres.
I see rapid rail as a natural extension to the work already underway to ensure better connections between our fast-growing cities. 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. It makes economic sense for government and other agencies to be thinking and planning now for future transport networks.
Hamilton will not contribute financially to the business case but is expected to be heavily involved in conversations going forward. And I don’t anticipate Hamilton will need to change any of our plans as a result of today’s announcement. We are already committed to the Rotokauri Transport Hub which has attracted significant government support.
We will need to be thinking about our connection to the CBD, and we’re already doing that. But let’s not jump the gun because it is very early days. But it certainly is exciting! Over time, this could be a significant development for the city while at the same time making a very real contribution to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Hamilton is already playing a prominent role in land-use planning and other issues around the Hamilton to Auckland corridor. Our role will continue via work on the Hamilton-Waikato Metro Spatial Plan. The work we are doing in that space is vital. Joint planning between our cities matters, not just to us, but to New Zealand as a whole because of the massive economic contribution that together we make to New Zealand’s GDP.
If we can link Hamilton and Auckland by just over an hour, that’s a game-changer but of course it would come at a cost. There will be upsides and downsides and no doubt that’s exactly what the business case will highlight.
In summary, I think 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.
You can find our a bit more about the government announcement here.