Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate has welcomed today’s announcement the government will undertake a business case to investigate the potential for rapid rail between Hamilton and Auckland.
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.
Mayor Southgate said investigating rapid rail was a “natural extension” to the work already underway to ensure better connections between both fast-growing cities.
“It’s early days but this is very exciting. 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. We are two very fast-growing cities and it makes economic sense for government and other agencies to be thinking and planning now for future transport networks.”
Hamilton would not contribute financially to the business case but expected to be heavily involved in conversations going forward, she said. She did not anticipate Hamilton would need to change any of its plans as a result of today’s announcement, noting the city is already committed to the Rotokauri Transport Hub, with government support.
“Of course, we will need to be thinking about our connection to the CBD – and we’re already doing that. Let’s not jump the gun because it is very early days. But 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.”
She said Hamilton had taken already played a prominent role in land-use planning and other issues around the Hamilton to Auckland corridor and that role would 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 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,” she said. “There will be upsides and downsides and no doubt that’s exactly what the business case will highlight.”