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Hamilton-Auckland start-up rail service

Passenger train carriage

Establishing a passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland is a transformational project for the Waikato region.

It is being led by the Waikato Regional Council, with partners KiwiRail, NZ Transport Agency, Hamilton City Council, Waikato District Council and Auckland Transport.

The development of passenger rail aligns with the Government’s new Policy Statement on Land Transport which is committed to creating an efficient, modern and resilient transport system across all transport modes.

A passenger rail connection between Hamilton and Auckland is one of a number of priority projects of the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan (a joint iwi-council-central government initiative).

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The service

When the service will start

The new Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail service is in the final stages of planning and development. The train carriages are being refurbished, stations are soon to be built and upgraded and we’re finalising timetables, ticketing and on-board amenities.

Getting a rail service up and running involves aligning a number of different projects managed by different agencies.

As our region’s public transport authority, Waikato Regional Council is responsible for bringing the project together.

When we announced the service we had the ambitious start date of March 2020. Unfortunately we have experienced delays which have impacted this timeframe.

The project’s implementation phase is subject to final NZ Transport Agency Board approval – we are working to a service start date in mid-2020.

A timetable that works for you

Travel time

The start-up service will have an estimated running time of:

  • 88 minutes from Frankton to Papakura
  • 80 minutes from Rotokauri (The Base) to Papakura
  • 57 minutes from Huntly to Papakura. 

The total journey from Rotokauri (The Base) to Britomart in Auckland will take an estimated 2 hours 12 - 2 hours 22 minutes (subject to the transfer time at Papakura).

Two return services will operate each weekday, with times that suit commuters or people travelling to Auckland for meetings, conferences or training. There is also one return service operating on Saturdays – perfect for a day out in Auckland.

All trains will start from Frankton Station and travel via the new hub at Rotokauri (The Base) and Huntly, before terminating at Papakura Station in South Auckland. Here you’ll have an easy transfer onto the Auckland Transport train and bus network, which will connect you across the city, including to Britomart Station in the CBD.

The times the service will operate are still to be confirmed. Indicative times at this stage are below.

Weekday morning services to Auckland

Depart Frankton

Depart Rotokauri (The Base)

Depart Huntly

Arrive Papakura









Services from Papakura depart for Britomart (Auckland CBD) every 10 minutes in peak times. We are working on a 2-3 minute transfer time after arriving into Papakura.

Weekday evening services to Hamilton

Depart Papakura

Depart Huntly

Depart Rotokauri (The Base)

Arrive Frankton









Saturday service

The train will also operate one return service from Hamilton to Auckland on weekends. It is likely the train will depart Hamilton between 8am and 10am and return between 4pm and 6pm.

The stations

The train will operate from:

Frankton Station – off Queens Ave. Forty car parks are available on site, with additional roadside parking available nearby.

Rotokauri (The Base) Station – access is off Tasman Road, near The Base.116 free park and ride car parks are available on site.

Huntly Station – access is off Glasgow Street and a car park adjacent to the station will be available for rail passengers.

More about the Rotokauri Station

The station forms part of the Rotokauri transport hub, with a bus station adjacent, and direct access via a proposed rail overbridge to The Base shopping centre.

We’re working on bus access to and from Rotokauri (The Base) station on the Orbiter and Comet bus services to meet the train timetable.

Hamilton City Council is undertaking public consultation on the Rotokauri transport hub. Visit the Hamilton City Council website for more information and to find out how to provide feedback.

On board experience

The refurbished trains will have air conditioning, heating, a café bar and be able to carry 147 passengers.

Each train will be made up of four carriages. There will be a toilet within each carriage and there will be plenty of tables, power and USB points on board to allow for productive working spaces.

Limited luggage storage and space for four bikes will also be available on board.

Rail carriage undergoing refurbishment.

Rail carriage undergoing refurbishment.


The cost of a one way smartcard fare from Hamilton to Papakura will be $12.20, with a trip into Auckland CBD costing a total of $18.50 if using an AT HOP card on AT Metro services.

Smartcard fares between Huntly and Papakura will be $7.80.

Child fares will also apply for people aged 5-18. Under 5s travel free.

We are developing a smartcard ticketing system in place for the service launch, with tag on, tag off functionality.

Auckland Transport fares will apply across the AT Metro train and bus network, and an AT HOP card will be required to get the best fares. Visit AT's website for more information on fares and travel on the AT Metro network, HOP cards and eligibility concessions, including SuperGold discounts.

Free smartcard SuperGold travel will be available on Saturday services only due to the weekday services operating in peak times.

Waikato Regional Council’s accessibility concession (free public transport for people with disabilities) will be available for use on the train for those people eligible and with a photo ID smart card.


The start-up service will be funded through passenger fares, a NZ Transport Agency subsidy and Waikato Regional Council rates.

Through Waikato Regional Council’s long term plan, it was decided that Hamilton ratepayers would pay a $20 uniform charge, plus $1.68 per $100,000 of capital value capped at $2.5 million.

The construction of the railway stations will be funded via a NZ Transport Agency subsidy, Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council rates.

Extending the service in the future

We’ll continue to monitor the start-up service and improve it over time as passenger numbers increase.

So future enhancements may include services in the middle of the day and travelling north of Papakura as track upgrades are made on the Auckland network.

Consideration is already being given to how services and service hours can be extended in future as patronage increases.