A train between Hamilton and Auckland may not be fast enough at the beginning, but will be better than sitting in traffic, says Hamilton mayor Andrew King.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced on Wednesday a business case had been approved, allowing for the fit-out of stock and detailed design of infrastructure.
He said it was an "exciting step" towards a five-year trial service expected to begin in March 2020.
The trial's total cost, including the service operated by KiwiRail, is estimated to be $78.2 million, including $68.4m from the NZTA and $9.8m from local authorities.
The planned refurbished diesel units will have toilets on-board as well as WiFi.
Mr King told RadioLIVE's Summer Breakfast the last time a train ran between the cities it was doomed to fail, but this one will have proper investment to ensure it won't.
But it will be slow to start off with.
"It can't be fast enough at this stage, it's going to take about two-and-a-quarter hours but people in business, people who are working with other people, they're generally spending half their night on their PC," he said.
"Going up and coming back you're not sitting in traffic jams taking three hours to get there, how it is now in a rush hour, you can be on a train and you can be doing work."
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Mr King said the service won't be for everyone but it's important to provide a choice for transport between the two cities.
"Every day there's thousands going up and down and obviously it won't suit all of them but this is exactly what this Government's about, it's alternative forms of public transport."
Passengers will be able to board the train at Frankton or the Base in Hamilton before it continues on to Huntly and ends at Papakura station in Auckland.
Mr King said he expects passengers will have to wait around 10 minutes in Papakura before jumping on to an Auckland Transport train headed to Auckland central.