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Action stations

Kia ora, greetings

Great news on the public transport front came out of last week’s Infrastructure Committee meeting.

The committee has endorsed an Indicative Business Case (IBC) which recommends the provision of a railway station in Tuakau within three to five years.

This will be more than welcomed by the people of Tuakau, some of whom have been campaigning for a railway station for more than a decade.

This editorial may seem as long as that to some, but it’s quite complex so I need a bit of your time to explain.

The same IBC, put together in association with Waikato Regional Council and KiwiRail, suggests that a railway station could be provided in Pokeno within the same timeframe.

But for this to happen time-saving measures for the Hamilton-Auckland Te Huia train service would need to be considered.

And the economic case for the stations would improve if additional Te Huia services could be introduced in the future, particularly if peak services could run towards Hamilton in the morning as well as the current focus on commuter travel towards Auckland.

For those a bit further south, the IBC does not rule out a station in Te Kauwhata within six or more years after a station is built in Tuakau and/or Pokeno.

These railway stations would fit perfectly within our Council vision of building Liveable, Thriving and Connected communities.

As I’ve said before, our district sits in the middle of the Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga Golden Triangle.

These stations would line our growth corridor going down the middle of our district.

Improved public transport can only help our communities connect and thrive, both within the district and beyond.

Economically it would drive growth by improving accessibility for both businesses and residents.

At the end of 2022, Stats NZ said the Waikato Region is expected to grow the fastest of all 16 regions between 2018 and 2048.

Our district is a key contributor to that growth but don’t forget, we are the gateway to that region from our country’s biggest city - an improved rail network is needed to accommodate that projected growth.

While this news is cause for celebration, we must not get ahead of ourselves. While the IBC is a significant step forward, it is not a guarantee of funding approval.

There are many agencies involved and railway stations don’t come cheap – for example, indications are that a station in Tuakau would cost around $6.4 million.

What our IBC endorsement does is signal our intent, we want this to happen.

The next step is for a Detailed Business Case to be carried out.

This will go further into the case for funding and delve further into the confirmation of the costs and benefits of having more than one station in the northern Waikato, as well as investigating platform layout and the staging of delivery.

This will start in 2024/25, subject to a decision regarding the continuation of Te Huia after the trial period ends in June 2024.

My final thing to say on this is that all of the above does not diminish our efforts to improve and maintain our roading network to the best of our ability, within the confines of the budget we have available to do that.

This is a challenging space for all of New Zealand, but I assure you, our roads are hugely important to us.

So, as always, if you see that pothole, or have concerns about our roads, please let us know by either clicking on the Report It tab on our website, which is here. Or give us a ring on 0800 492 452.

Thanks for sticking with me, it’s a long read but hopefully worth it!

But before I go, I just want to encourage you to keep up to date will all our Council news by subscribing to our e-newsletter. You can do that here.

Ngaa mihi nui and warmest regards,  
Mayor Jacqui Church