Wednesday, 25 April 2012
New Zealand’s KiwiRail (www.tranzscenic.co.nz) is well known for its spectacular TranzAlpine service that crosses the Southern Alps from Christchurch to Greymouth and its Coastal Pacific route from Christchurch to Picton. These routes have primarily become tourist services with modern scenic carriages and tourist services.
The North islands 60-year-old Overlander service between Wellington and Auckland does not have the same tourist appeal and passenger numbers for domestic point-to-point services have dramatically declined in recent years.
From June 2012 the North islands Overlander service is upgrading to smart tourist trains. The new service will drop from a daily service to three trains from Wellington and three trains from Auckland every week. Journeys will be faster, have modern scenic carriages, will make fewer stops and new saloon, cafe and open air viewing carriages will be standard on all routes.
Long distance train travel in New Zealand is developing into an international-standard travel experience rather than simply getting people from one place to another. As one of the most stunningly scenic countries New Zealand is hoping that these developments will revitalise the North Island service and attract more overseas and local tourists.