From day one there will be two return services on weekdays to get commuters to Papakura in time for the start of the workday.
Waikato regional councillor Hugh Vercoe, chair of the Regional Transport Committee and the rail governance working group, said: “We are as excited as our communities to be able to confirm a start date, giving people the certainty they need to start planning their travel from April.
“This service will transform public transport and the way people in the Waikato travel between here and Auckland. There’s real opportunity for us to expand the service into the future, opening it up to even more Waikato communities,” Cr Vercoe said.
“All stations are ready to go and we’ll be holding public open days on 27 and 28 March, giving families the chance to walk through the carriages to check out the facilities,” he said.
KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller thanked its three council partners for its commitment and effort in getting the service started.
“KiwiRail acknowledges the work the councils have put in, and looks forward to seeing the service running.
“Plenty of work has gone on behind the scenes by KiwiRail too, including training our new onboard crew who will be responsible for hosting passengers travelling on Te Huia. They have been preparing for this day and are raring to go.
“The start of the service will also be a proud moment for our teams at Hutt Workshop who have refurbished a total of 12 carriages from top to bottom.”
Cr Ewan Wilson, Hamilton City Council’s representative on the rail governance working group, said having a high-quality rail service from Waikato to Auckland was “exciting for the city and a transformational step in future-proofing Hamilton’s role in rail”.
Waikato District Council’s rail governance working group representative, Cr Eugene Patterson, said: “After months of anticipation I am thrilled that we finally have a launch date for the Te Huia service. Te Huia will change the face of public transport in the region by better connecting Hamilton, the Waikato district and Auckland. The newly-built Raahui Pookeka | Huntly Station offers a fantastic opportunity to kickstart the revitalisation of the Huntly central business district.
“Waikato District Council is proud to have worked with all the partners concerned to make this passenger rail service a reality and we look forward to continuing this work to enhance the service in the future.”
The service timetable has now also been confirmed. From Monday to Friday, Te Huia will depart Frankton at 5.46am and 6.28am, stopping at Rotokauri and Huntly. The return service will depart from Papakura at 4.42pm and 6.25pm. Bee Card fares are $12.20 from Hamilton and $7.80 from Huntly. Cash fares are available.
For the first few months, Te Huia will operate on select Saturdays only, starting with 17 April due to limited availability of the rail track as a result of Auckland rail project and Metro maintenance work.
Each of the two trains has four carriages with free wifi, air conditioning, heating, a café bar and be able to carry 150 passengers. There is a toilet within each carriage and plenty of tables, power and USB points on board to allow for productive working spaces.
More information about the service is available at tehuiatrain.co.nz.
The passenger rail service project is being led by Waikato Regional Council, working with partners KiwiRail, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Hamilton City Council, Waikato District Council, Auckland Transport and the Ministry of Transport.