The announcement came as minister of transport, Mr Phil Twyford, confirmed the new Hamilton - Auckland commuter service will launch on August 3, two months later than initially planned.

The Te Huia commuter service will have a journey time of 2h 20min, but Stuff reports the government has approved an initial business case, due mid-year, for a rapid rail service to reduce this to just 60 minutes. A detailed business case will be required after that.

The commuter service will have two trains traveling from Hamilton - Auckland in the morning, both returning in the evening. A single return service will operate on Saturdays.

“As the Waikato region and Auckland grow closer together, this new passenger train will become a crucial connection between these two major centres,” Twyford says. “It will allow up to 300 people to get to and from Auckland each day, helping reduce congestion on our highways and transport emissions.

“Not only will it take the stress out of driving, the coaches will be comfortable and equipped with Wi-Fi, which will allow passengers to use the 2h 20min travel time productively.”

The NZ Transport Agency is funding the service for five years, during which time it will be reassessed. The government confirmed in August 2019 it will provide $NZ 79.8m ($US 48.1m) of the $NZ 92.37m cost of establishing the service.

Twyford says the new commuter service is part of a wider government vision to enable development along the Hamilton-Auckland corridor.

“The South Auckland/North Waikato area is growing and it’s important that we are thinking about the big picture and develop the right infrastructure to unlock that growth,” he says. “Our government is already investing $NZ 618m to electrify the lines in South Auckland out to Pukekohe and build stations in Drury, which will support a whole new future town there.”