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Encyclopedia > Southerner (train)

The Southerner was a famous passenger express train that ran in New Zealand's South Island along the Main South Line between Christchurch and Invercargill via Dunedin. It commenced service on 1 December 1970 and ceased on 10 February 2002. In its time, it was one of the premier passenger trains in New Zealand and its existence made Invercargill the southernmost passenger station in the world. For other uses, see Train (disambiguation). ... The South Island The South Island is one of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the North Island. ... The Main South Line is half of the South Island Main Trunk Railway in New Zealand and runs south from Lyttelton through Christchurch and down the east coast of the South Island to Invercargill via Dunedin. ... For other uses, see Christchurch (disambiguation). ... Invercargill is the southern-most and western-most city in New Zealand, and one of the southern-most settlements in the world. ... Dunedin (ÅŒtepoti in Maori) is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, located in coastal Otago. ... December 1 is the 335th (in leap years the 336th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1970 calendar). ... February 10 is the 41st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ...

Contents

Before the Southerner

Express passenger trains on the Main South Line were some of the last services to be hauled by steam locomotives in New Zealand. These services, especially in the late 19th century and early 20th century, were the flagship of the nation's passenger network and thus received the newest and best motive power and rolling stock. In the mid 20th century these expresses were augmented by evening railcars between Christchurch and Dunedin. A locomotive (from Latin loco motivus) is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train, and has no payload capacity of its own; its sole purpose is to move the train along the tracks. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... Not to be confused with railroad car. ...


In the days of steam-hauled expresses, one particular part of the Main South Line gained an element of fame. Mail was carried as well as passengers, and the process of delivering and receiving mail at stations during the journey would often delay the express. For this reason, when locomotive drivers hit the relatively flat, straight track of the Canterbury Plains approaching Christchurch, they would seek to run their expresses as fast as possible and try to make up as much lost time as they could. Many claims were made of passing the official New Zealand rail speed record of 125 km/h (78 mph) set by a Vulcan railcar in trials, and the line itself came to be known as the "racetrack". Location of the Canterbury Plains The Canterbury Plains is an area bounded by the foothills of the Southern Alps and the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. ...


Introduction

By the late 1960s steam motive power had been phased out from the North Island, and a serious effort was being made to replace it with diesel-electric engines in the South too. The introduction of the DJ class in 1968 sealed steams fate, and in 1970, plans were made to introduce a brand new diesel-hauled express to replace the premier express between Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill, the South Island Limited. The new train was named the Southerner, it would be hauled by members of the DJ class, and unlike the steam-hauled expresses, it would not carry mail. It entered service 1 December 1970. North Island The North Island is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, the other being the South Island. ... A locomotive (from Latin loco motivus) is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train, and has no payload capacity of its own; its sole purpose is to move the train along the tracks. ... The South Island Limited was a passenger express train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department between 1949 and 1970. ... December 1 is the 335th (in leap years the 336th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1970 calendar). ...


Despite the introduction of the Southerner, steam-hauled expresses continued to operate on Friday and Sunday evenings for almost 11 months. The last one ran on 26 October 1971; this was, in fact, the last use of a steam locomotive to haul a regularly-scheduled revenue service in New Zealand. The service was replaced with a diesel hauled train which continued until 1979. The evening railcars lasted a few years longer, but the age of the Vulcan railcars was becoming increasingly obvious and the service was cancelled in April 1976 without replacement. After 1979, the Southerner was the only long distance passenger service on the Main South Line. October 26 is the 299th day of the year (300th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 66 days remaining. ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ...


Rolling stock

The original Southerer consisted of 10 (later 12) single-toilet (later designated South Island Main Trunk Railway) first class cars, two (later three) full buffet cars, three vans and, in the 1980s, three wooden 50 foot bogie box wagons for parcels. All passenger cars were rebuilt from 56 foot stock from 1938-1945. The South Island Main Trunk Railway runs down the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, from Picton to Bluff. ...


A former half first class (14 seats) half second class (28 seats) car, and the only 56' car to serve in a Vice Regal capacity for a Governor General (hence the unique design) were rebuilt as full buffet cars, incorporating full length counters and 20 stools. In 1973, a former double-toilet (later designated a North Island Main Trunk Railway) first class car was rebuilt as a third buffet car for these trains. Two cars retained their "coupe" compartment for train staff, one car for each train, and another two retained their compartments for hostesses, again, one car to each train. The North Island Main Trunk Railway (NIMT) is the railway line connecting Auckland and Wellington, the two major cities of New Zealands North Island. ...


Later, in the 1980s, NZR Addington Workshops had designed a new seat type for passengers and these had proven successful in Picton/Greymouth cars, so the Southerner cars received these seats also, bringing seating spaces up from 29 or 33 to 45 or 50 per car. One 45-seat car with staff compartment and one 50-seat car without, once new seats were installed, were sent to the North Island for use on the two Gisborne Expresses. In their place on the Southerner were two 32-seat Endeavour cars. The Addington Railway Workshops were a major railway facility first established on the Addington site in Christchurch in May 1880 by New Zealand Railways Department. ... A view of the harbour in Picton. ... Greymouth is the largest town in the West Coast region on the South Island of New Zealand, and the seat of the Grey District Council. ... The Endeavour is an air-condidioned DMU operating within the CityRail network designed to replace the ageing 620/720 railcars although the 620/720 railcars are still used today. ...


In 1988, with the Northerner services requiring replacement stock, eight carriages from the Southerner were refurbished for the task, so five red Picton/Greymouth cars and an Endeavour car were refurbished as a "new" Southerner, entering service Monday, July 4, 1988. The Endeavour car and one Picton/Greymouth car were fitted out as servery cars, each seating 31 alcove-style. The other four cars would seat 50 alcove-style. The seats were reupholstered and new carpet laid down in all six cars. Two Mitsubishi-built modular vans were equipped with 11kW generators on their handbrake ends and became power-baggage vans for the "new" trains. Its reintroduction also saw the ceasation of parcels traffic being conveyed by the trains. The Northerner was an overnight passenger train between Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand. ...


This seating arrangement, while accepted on the TranzAlpine, Coastal Pacific, and Bay Expresses, proved unsuccessful on the Southerners, so one car from each set had seating re-arranged to a "forward-facing" layout. The TranzAlpine, hauled by two DC class locomotives skirting the Waimakariri River The TranzAlpine is a passenger train service operated by Tranz Scenic, operating in the South Island of New Zealand. ... The TranzCoastal is a long-distance passenger train between Picton and Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. ... The Bay Express was a passenger train that operated between Wellington and Napier in New Zealands North Island from Monday, 11 December 1989 until Sunday, 7 October 2001. ...


Still, patronage continued to fall away, even when from 1993 onwards panorama cars were introduced to this service. Two cars came from the original Bay Express, two were Southerner cars turned panorama cars for the TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific and one the former connoisseur car (also an original Southerner car). Two Picton/Greymouth cars turned panorama cars also served these trains til joining the Bay Express to Napier. Also, the original TranzAlpine servery/observation car and it's Coastal Pacific equal were assigned to the Southerner. The Connoisseur car was a special railway carriage that was used in the consist of a number of passenger trains in New Zealand. ...


Accident

On Wednesday 25 August 1993, the southound Southerner, consisting of a DF class locomotive, passenger car with luggage space at one end, servery car, day car and the second of three TranzAlpine/Coastal Pacific power-baggage vans was hit at Rolleston by a concrete mixing truck. The bowel bounced off all three passenger cars, and ripped two wide open. Two people were killed. August 25 is the 237th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (238th in leap years), with 128 days remaining. ... 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ...


Two days later, a replacement train, consisting of three recently refurbished cars and the Mitsubishi-built modular power/baggage van with 37.5kW generator from the Auckland excursion fleet was brought in to supplement the remaining four Southerner cars. The first and second of these temporary replacement cars seated 50, alcove-style, like the Southerner cars, but in a more recently designed seat, seen on upgraded Masterton cars and the NIMT cars. The third car seated 54, in the same type of seat, but with all seats facing into two centre tables, one on each side of the aisle. The NIMT car turned buffet car in 1973 returned to the train as part of the replacement consist.


Replacement rolling stock

At the end of 1993, the former Masterton car turned NIMT servery car was brought in to replace the damaged servery car, and the first of the two Bay Express panorama cars was also allocated to this train as the initial attempt to re-equip this train with panorama cars.


In 1995, seven of the first batch of 11 non-air conditioned panorama cars were thoroughly overhauled, air conditioning was installed as was a new style seat type found in the third 3-car Northerner/Overlander set. Two of these were permanently, the second two temporarily allocated to the Southerner, with the fifth juggling duties between Invercargill, Greymouth and Picton. The two original servery/observation cars were similarly refurbished. The third TranzAlpine/Coastal Pacific and the first of the two Southerner 11kW power/baggage vans were fitted out with newer, more powerful generators (though less powerful than their North Island Main Trunk counterparts) and the Southerner van had it's public viewing module re-enclosed for luggage carriage again. Later that year, when the Bay Express was re-equipped with two of those seven refurbished cars, the original two Bay Express cars were similiarly refurbished and permanently allocated to the Southerners.


Timetable

The advantages of the new technology and the removal of delays caused by the carriage of mail, and the elimination of refreshment stops (with the inclusion of a buffet car) became apparent instantly, with the travel time between Christchurch and Dunedin cut by almost an hour from 7 hours 9 minutes to 6 hours 14 minutes. Typically, two DJ diesels hauled the train, and when a third was added to increase power on the rugged, difficult line between Oamaru and Dunedin, another 19 minutes was slashed from the schedule.   Oamaru is the largest town of North Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. ...


Dining service

The Southerner is also notable for being the first train to include a full dining service on New Zealand Railways since the abolition of dining cars as an economy measure in World War One. The Southerner had a full service buffet car with 20 seats, that served hot meals and cafeteria style food, until this was replaced with a buffet bar service in the early 1990s, for passengers to purchase food to be consumed at their seats. Ypres, 1917, in the vicinity of the Battle of Passchendaele. ...


The final years

By the 1990s, the DJ class had been largely withdrawn from service and other locomotives hauled the Southerner, including members of the DC and DX classes. The service ran at a financial loss and had been supported by government subsidies until these ended for all long distance passenger trains in 1989. New Zealand Rail changed the seating configuration of the coaches by replacing the very generous seat pitch 3 abreast configuration with a more standard 4 abreast with reduced (but still generous compared to bus) seat pitch. The full service buffet car was replaced with a buffet servery. Both measures reduced costs significantly, but the service was challenged by the increasing number of low-cost shuttle bus services, particularly between Christchurch and Dunedin, which were significantly cheaper than the train. Nonetheless, the Southerner still operated seven days a week, with one service running each way. As branch lines were nearly non-existent, with those still extant not open to passenger trains, and as Dunedin's suburban passenger services had been withdrawn by 1982, it was the sole regular train to stop at the famous Dunedin Railway Station, once the country's busiest station. At this time, the typical consist of the Southerner comprised 2-3 passenger wagons and a service van, and the southbound journey from Christchurch and Dunedin was timetabled to take 5 hours 46 minutes, with an additional 3 hours 19 minutes required to reach Invercargill. Northbound, the journey from Invercargill to Dunedin was scheduled to last 3 hours 28 minutes, with another 5 hours 27 minutes necessary to complete the trip to Christchurch. The NZR DC class locomotive is the most common class of locomotive on the New Zealand rail network. ... The General Electric DX class, consists of forty-nine locomotives built by General Electric of the United States between 1972 and 1975 for the then New Zealand Railways Department. ... Dunedin Railway Station clocktower (left). ...


It continued to face increased bus competition, and with increased car ownership and competition in the airline industry, the Southerner seemed unable to find a profitable niche on its route.


In 2001, a 50% share in long-distance passenger services was sold to directors of Australian company West Coast Railway, but neither it nor any other company elected to purchase the Southerner without the promise of a subsidy. The Ministry of Economic Development funded a feasibility study into the economic impact of subsidising the Southerner, but this failed to demonstrate a viable business case for the service - patronage had fallen to an average of between 40 and 50 people per day in each direction. This was roughly half what was necessary to make the train economically viable. As neither airline nor bus services along the route were subsidised, the government decided not to subsidise the train and its demise was inevitable. Public outcry failed to save the train, and the last services were scheduled for Sunday, 10 February 2002. One train ran from Christchurch to Invercargill and another ran the opposite way, as per the usual schedule. When the two services completed their journeys, their carriages were re-allocated for use on the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth and the TranzCoastal between Christchurch and Picton. The Ministry of Economic Development in New Zealand has an overarching goal of promoting economic development. ... February 10 is the 41st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... For album titles with the same name, see 2002 (album). ... The TranzAlpine, hauled by two DC class locomotives skirting the Waimakariri River The TranzAlpine is a passenger train service operated by Tranz Scenic, operating in the South Island of New Zealand. ... Greymouth is the largest town in the West Coast region on the South Island of New Zealand, and the seat of the Grey District Council. ... The TranzCoastal is a long-distance passenger train between Picton and Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. ... A view of the harbour in Picton. ...


After the Southerner

There are currently no plans to re-instate a service on the Southerner's route and the Main South Line is now almost wholly without any passenger trains. The northern portion between Christchurch and Rolleston is still used by The TranzAlpine, and Dunedin Railway Station and the Main South Line to Wingatui remain in use as by the Taieri Gorge Limited, a popular daily tourist train operated by the Taieri Gorge Railway along the former Otago Central Railway, as well as limited service to Palmerston as the Seasider. Invercargill, sadly, has lost its status of having the southernmost regularly used passenger station in the world. The Main South Line is half of the South Island Main Trunk Railway in New Zealand and runs south from Lyttelton through Christchurch and down the east coast of the South Island to Invercargill via Dunedin. ... Rolleston is a satellite town of Christchurch, Located next to State highway 1 on the Canterbury Plains in the South Island of New Zealand. ... The Taieri Gorge Railway is a railway based at Dunedin Railway Station in the South Island of New Zealand. ... The Otago Central Railway or Otago Central Branch Railway was a secondary railway line in Central Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand. ...


External links

  • Southerner Rail Passenger Service: Viability Study
  • Tribute page to the Southerner

Reference

  • Churchman, Geoffrey B., and Hurst, Tony; The Railways Of New Zealand: A Journey Through History, HarperCollins Publishers (New Zealand), 1991 reprint
Long Distance Passenger Trains of New Zealand

 
 

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