Members of the rail governance group survey the Rotokauri Transport Hub site in Hamilton. Behind them is the hub’s yet-to-be-completed pedestrian bridge.
City bosses are confident Hamilton’s new transport hub will be ready in time for the launch of the commuter rail service to Auckland.
Members of the rail governance committee were given a guided tour of the Rotokauri Transport Hub on Tuesday, ahead of its scheduled completion date in October.
The hub will serve as one of two city locations where rail passengers can jump on or off the Hamilton-Auckland passenger service.
The service, named Te Huia, begins on November 2.
Hamilton City Council development general manager Chris Allen said contractors Downer had done a “fantastic job” on the build.
“We’re on track to have a functioning rail station ready to go,” Allen said.
Establishing the rail service is budgeted to cost $92 million, with central government footing $82m.
A showpiece feature of the Rotokauri Transport Hub will be an over-rail pedestrian bridge, linking Tasman Road to the centre platform and The Base shopping complex.
“Everything will look really cool, the stairs and lifts [for the pedestrian bridge] will be in place, it’s just the final bits of commissioning the lifts and bolting down the stairs and everything,” Allen said.
A level crossing will be used for the first 2-4 weeks until the pedestrian bridge is ready for use. During this time, a staffer will escort passengers onto the platform when trains arrive.
The Covid-19 pandemic also delayed the completion of the hub’s toilet block. Temporary toilets will be used in the meantime.
“There’s a lot of stuff happening off site that you can’t see at the moment,” Downer project manager Allister Stirling said.
“The first section of the pedestrian bridge comes out of the painters today and, by late September, early October, we’ll have some big cranes in. They come basically set up and ready to go,” Stirling said.
The bridge will have a burnt orange and “electric cow” (dark grey) colour scheme and will carry pedestrians about 7m above the ground.
Workers shifted the rail line carrying northbound trains nine metres west to allow for the construction of the hub’s 140 metre-long rail platform.
Allen said the transport hub was set up to cater for a start-up rail service.
“It’s not a gold-plated service, but we’ve worked through the project with NZTA, and they have been great with this. They’ve said they want a level of service that will make it successful.”
While a lot of attention has been given to the hub’s rail function, it will also serve as an important bus station, Allen said. The Tasman Rd side of the hub will have 170 bus movements from day one. This will increase to 300 movements when the Frankton and Dinsdale routes get extended to Tasman Rd.
Labour list MP Jamie Strange accompanied the rail governance committee on its site tour and said the rail project is an example of central and local government working together.
The Transport Ministry is currently working on a business case for rapid rail between Hamilton and Auckland, Strange said.
“That [business case] is due to be released very soon and that will map out the potential for future services. The goal is one hour [travel] between Hamilton and Auckland’s CBDs.
“That would completely unite the two labour markets.”
A feature of the Rotokauri Transport Hub will be a park and ride facility, providing car parking for rail and bus passengers. Cyclists will also be able to lock up their bikes at the hub.