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Published: 2008-08-05 00:00:00

A possible commuter rail service between the Waikato and Auckland is again gaining a higher profile on the region’s transport agenda.

The idea was discussed in a draft regional rail strategy presented to the regional transport committee’s meeting in Hamilton yesterday.

Consultant Murray King, who prepared the report, said an option was using former Silver Fern service railcars when they are no longer needed by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA).

Mr King said that starting "small" on a commuter rail service was a good idea.

Issues that would need to be looked at included the prospect of getting access for a commuter service to the Britomart station in downtown Auckland. Mr King also suggested testing market reaction to the idea of a commuter service going to another station, such as Newmarket, where it could link to the wider Auckland passenger rail network.

The committee formally received the report, which will now be circulated for feedback over the next few months. Mr King will then work on an updated version of the strategy.

Committee chairman Norm Barker, of Environment Waikato, encouraged interested parties to have their say.

"A commuter rail service between the Waikato and Auckland has been talked about for some time. We now want to hear how keen people are for this to proceed."

At the suggestion of Hamilton City’s Cr Dave Macpherson, the committee agreed that stakeholders, such as ARTA and rail providers, should be alerted now to the Waikato’s potential interest in developing a commuter rail service to Auckland, and in using old Silver Fern carriages for this purpose.