North Island Main Trunk

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North Island Main Trunk
Northisland NZ NIMT.png
Map of the North Island Main Trunk
Overview
Type Heavy rail
System New Zealand railway network
Status Open
Locale North Island, New Zealand
Termini Wellington Railway Station
Auckland Britomart Transport Centre
Operation
Opening 14 August 1908 (railheads meet)
6 November 1908 (official opening)
14 February 1909 (line completed)
Owner KiwiRail
Operator(s) KiwiRail (freight)
KiwiRail Scenic Journeys (long-distance passenger)
Tranz Metro (Wellington - Waikanae)
Veolia (Auckland - Pukekohe)
Character Main line
Rolling stock EF class electric locomotives (Te Rapa - Palmerston North)
Technical
Line length 681 km (423 mi)
No. of tracks Triple track Wellington - Wairarapa Line junction; double track Wairarapa Line junction -Pukerua Bay, Paekakariki-Waikanae, Hamilton-Te Kauwhata, Amokura-Auckland; remainder single track
Track gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Electrification 1500 V DC overhead Wellington - Waikanae
25 kV 50Hz AC overhead Palmerston North - Te Rapa
25 kV overhead under construction (Papakura - Britomart)
Operating speed 120 km/h (75 mph) maximum
Highest elevation 832 metres (2,730 ft)
Route map
681.0 Britomart Transport CentreAuckland Central
Newmarket Line
Quay Park Junction
Former Auckland Railway Station
Ports of Auckland
Auckland Eastern Line
North Auckland Line
Westfield Freight Yard
Auckland Eastern & Southern Lines
662.2 Middlemore
Auckland Eastern & Southern Lines
Manukau Branch
Auckland Eastern & Southern Line
646.9 Papakura
Mission Bush Branch & Glenbrook Vintage Railway
628.7 PukekoheEnd of Auckland suburban services
Glen Afton Branch
Huntly
Waikato River bridge
Ngaruawahia
Glen Massey Branch
Te Rapa
542.3 Hamilton
East Coast Main Trunk
Te Awamutu
494.4 Otorohanga
475.7 Te Kuiti
Waiteti viaduct 36m
Stratford–Okahukura Line (mothballed)
397.8 Taumarunui
Whanganui River bridge
RaurimuRaurimu Spiral
346.8 National Park
Makatote viaduct 79m
Manganui viaduct
Mangaturuturu viaduct
Taonui viaduct
Hapuawhenua viaduct 51m
Raetihi Branch
317.1 Ohakune
TangiwaiTangiwai disaster site
Waiouru
Taihape
Utiku
North Rangitikei Viaduct 81m
Former tunnels #10e-f
Kawhatau Viaduct 73m
Former tunnels #10b-d
Mangaweka Viaduct
Former tunnel #10a South Rangitikei Viaduct 78m
MangawekaMangaweka deviation
Makohine viaduct 73m
180.3 Marton–New Plymouth Line
Marton
Rangitikei River bridge
153.0 Feilding
Palmerston North–Gisborne Line
136.2 Palmerston North
Foxton Branch
Milson deviation
Manawatu RiverWellington–Manawatu Line
Shannon
90.3 Levin
Otaki
WaikanaeEnd of Wellington suburban services
48.3 Paraparaumu
Kapiti Line
17.7 Porirua
Kapiti Line
Former NIMT via Johnsonville
Tawa Flat deviation
Hutt Valley Line & Wairarapa Line
Kapiti/Hutt Valley/Wairarapa Line
ThorndonInterisland Ferry to the South Island
Johnsonville Line
0.0 Wellington Railway StationWellington

The North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) is the main railway line in the North Island of New Zealand, linking Wellington, the capital, and Auckland, the largest city, via Paraparaumu, Palmerston North, Taihape, National Park, Taumarunui, Te Kuiti, Hamilton, and Pukekohe.

It is 681 kilometres (423 mi) in length, of New Zealand rail gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in). Most is single track with frequent passing loops, with double track most of the distance between Wellington and Waikanae, and between Hamilton and Auckland. Around 460 kilometres (290 mi) of the line is electrified: 55 km at 1500 V DC between Wellington and Waikanae, and 412 km (256 mi) at 25 kV AC between Palmerston North and Te Rapa (Hamilton). The 34 km (21 mi) between Papakura and Britomart is currently being electrified.

The first section of what became the NIMT opened in 1873 in Auckland. Construction of the Wellington end began in 1885, and the line was completed in 1908 and fully operational by 1909. The line is credited for having been an economic lifeline for the young nation, and for having opened up the centre of the North Island to European settlement and investment.[1] In the early days, a passenger journey could take more than 20 hours; today, the Northern Explorer takes approximately 11 hours.[2]

The NIMT has been described as an "engineering miracle", with numerous engineering feats such as viaducts, tunnels and a spiral built to overcome large elevation differences with grades suitable for steam engines.

History[edit]

Construction[edit]

Auckland to Te Awamutu[edit]

Auckland's first railway was the 13 km (8.1 mi) line between Point Britomart and Onehunga, opened in 1873 (see photo of first train). It included what is now the Onehunga Branch from Penrose, branching off the line to be built to the Waikato, possibly to support the Invasion of the Waikato. This line reached Mercer by 20 May 1875, with 29 km (18 mi) from Ngaruawahia being constructed by the Volunteer Engineer Militia and opened on 13 August 1877. It was extended to Frankton by December 1877, and to Te Awamutu in 1880. An economic downturn stalled construction for the next five years, and Te Awamutu remained the railhead. There were also protracted negotiations with local Māori, and the King Country was not accessible to Europeans until 1883.

Wellington to Marton[edit]

The Wellington-Longburn (near Palmerston North) section was constructed between 1881 and 1886 by the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company (WMR). The company was acquired by the New Zealand Railways Department in 1908.

The Longburn to Marton section of the line was constructed as part of the Foxton to Wanganui line.

Central North Island[edit]

From Te Awamutu it was proposed that the line be built via Taupo or via Taumarunui, the eventual route. Construction of the final central section began on 15 April 1885, when paramount chief Wahanui of Ngāti Maniapoto turned the first sod outside Te Awamutu. It was 23 years before the two lines met, as the central section was difficult to survey and construct. The crossing of the North Island Volcanic Plateau with deep ravines required nine viaducts and the world-famous Raurimu Spiral. By the beginning of 1908, there was a 39 km (24 mi) gap between Erua and Ohakune, with a connecting horse-drawn coach service. From Ohakune south to Waiouru the Public Works Department operated the train, as this section had not yet been handed over to the Railways Department.

Opening[edit]

The gap was closed on 7 August 1908 for the first through passenger train, the 11-car Parliamentary Special carrying the Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward and other parliamentarians north to see the American Great White Fleet at Auckland.[1] But much of the new section was temporary, with some cuttings north of Taonui having vertical batters and some unballasted sections of track. Ward drove the last spike on 6 November 1908, and the 'Last Spike' monument is at Manganui-o-te-Ao 39°16.44′S 175°23.37′E / 39.27400°S 175.38950°E / -39.27400; 175.38950, near Pokaka. A two-day NIMT service started on 9 November, with an overnight stop at Ohakune.

On 14 February 1909 the first NIMT express left Auckland for Wellington, an overnight trip scheduled to take 19 hours 15 minutes, with a sleeping car, day cars with reclining seats, and postal/parcels vans. The dining car went on the north express from Wellington to Ohakune, then transferred to the southbound express, so avoiding the heavy gradients of the central section.

Track upgrades[edit]

Several sections of the line have been upgraded and deviated:

In 1913 the maximum speed limit on the NIMT was raised to 45 mph (73 km/hr), reducing the journey time by 1 hour 25 minutes Auckland-Wellington or to 17 hours and between 30 and 45 minutes.[3] Under T. Ronaye the general manager from 1895 to 1913 the section south to Parnell was duplicated and improvements made to the worst gradients and tight curves between Auckland and Mercer. Under his successor E. H. Hiley the second Parnell Tunnel with two tracks and an easier gradient was completed in 1915-1916. On the Kakariki bank between Halcombe and Marton a deviation reduced the 1 in 53 grade to 1 in 70.[4]

In 1930 the Westfield Deviation was opened, creating a new eastern route from Auckland to Westfield via Glen Innes and Hobsons Bay, running into the new Auckland Railway Station and providing better access to the Port of Auckland. The original section between Auckland to Westfield via Newmarket later ceased to be part of the NIMT: from Auckland to Newmarket became the Auckland-Newmarket Line, between Westfield and Newmarket part of the North Auckland Line (NAL) between Westfield to Whangarei.

In 1935 the Tawa Flat deviation was opened, bypassing most of the original WMR line between Wellington and Tawa. Constructed to alleviate issues with more and heavier freight traffic on the steep twisting original route, it was built as double track, with a pair of tunnels under the Wellington hills and soon electrified at 1500V DC. Most of the original line was retained as the Johnsonville Line.

In the 1950s the line north from Tawa north to Pukerua Bay was duplicated. The section between Porirua to Plimmerton was straightened at the same time by reclaiming land along the eastern shore of Porirua Harbour.

Between 1964 and 1966 the line was deviated away from the centre of Palmerston North via the Milson deviation on the edge of the city.

In 1967 the floors of the tunnels on the WMR section between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay were lowered to enable the DA class locomotives to travel all the way to Wellington.

Between 1973 and 1981 the major Mangaweka deviation in the central section between Mangaweka and Utiku was built, with three viaducts, all over 70m tall, crossing the Rangitikei and Kawhatau rivers.

The central section from Te Rapa near Hamilton to Palmerston North was electrified at 25 kV AC between 1984 and 1988 as part of the Think Big government energy programme. Some tunnels were opened out or bypassed by deviations while in others clearances were increased, and curves eased. The section between Ohakune and Horopito was realigned with three viaducts replaced to handle higher loads and speeds. The most notable bridge replaced was the curved metal viaduct at Hapuawhenua by a modern concrete structure, though the original has been restored as a tourist attraction.

In 2011 duplication between Paekakariki and Waikanae was completed as part of the upgrade and expansion of the Wellington suburban network; see Kapiti Line for more information.

In 2012-13 four bridges near Rangiriri between Auckland and Hamilton were replaced. The bridges were all over 100 years old with steel spans and timber piers, and were replaced by modern low-maintenance concrete ballast deck bridges. Bridges 479, 480, 481 & 482 were replaced, with lengths of 40 metres (131 ft 3 in), 40 metres (131 ft 3 in), 30 metres (98 ft 5 in) and 18 metres (59 ft 1 in) respectively.[5]

Electrification[edit]

There are three independent sections of the NIMT which are electrified: Auckland's urban network (25kV AC), Wellington's urban network (1500 V DC), and the central section (25kV AC) from Palmerston North - Te Rapa (north of Hamilton).

Electrification of the NIMT was mooted by electrical engineer Evan Parry in the first volume of the New Zealand Journal of Science and Technology in November 1918. In light of a national coal shortage following World War I, Parry argued that the network was under great strain due to ever-increasing volumes of freight, and the use of steam traction was partly to blame. Parry also noted that there was great potential for cheap hydro-electricity generation in the central North Island to power electrification.

The first part of the NIMT to be electrified was the Wellington-Paekakariki section via the Tawa Flat deviation in 1940. This was largely to prevent smoke nuisance in the 4.3 km No. 2 tunnel, and to provide for banking on the Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay section. Electric traction in this section is now used only by Tranz Metro for Metlink suburban passenger services on the Kapiti Line, and was extended to Paraparaumu in 1983 and Waikanae in 2011. Funded by the Greater Wellington Regional Council, it coincided with the delivery of new FP class Matangi electric multiple units.[6]

Following the Second World War railway services suffered due to skill and coal shortages. Skilled staff sought employment opportunities elsewhere in the economy. From 1948 to 1951 the General Manager of the Railways Department, Frederick Aicken, advocated electrification of the entire line, despite protests from his engineering staff. Aicken had previously been Staff Superintendent and Chief Legal Advisor to the Department, and considered using diesel locomotives for trains on the NIMT to be too expensive. He turned his attention to electrification, mainly because he saw that it could relieve the coal situation and prevent high expenditure on imported fuels.

He commissioned a study into electrification, which concluded that a low frequency AC system could be cheaper than 1500 V DC, the system in use in Wellington. Aicken sent a technical mission of four senior officers overseas in March 1949, and travelled overseas himself to negotiate a tentative contract with a British construction company. The Chief Mechanical Engineer and Chief Accountant specified and costed the system and Aicken was able to complete a substantial report justifying the NIMT electrification and submit it to the Government.

Officers from New Zealand Treasury and the Ministry of Works and two experts from Sweden commented on the proposal and in December 1950 the Government granted approval in principle and agreed to appoint Thelander as a consultant. However, Aicken fell out with the then National Government, and retired as General Manager in July 1951. With the change in regime the electrification proposal disappeared.

A key assumption of Aicken's report was that traffic on the NIMT would grow by 50% from 1948 to 1961. Since a diesel-electric locomotive was in fact a travelling power station, the savings through electrification compared to diesel could be regarded as the difference between the cost of buying bulk electrical energy generated substantially from New Zealand resources and the cost of generating electricity in small plant using imported diesel fuel.

However, the Royal Commission on Railways created following Aicken's tenure rejected the report's findings. Aicken's successor, H.C. Lusty, revised the tentative contract with English Electric to specify DF diesel-electric locomotives. They were later found to be unreliable, and only ten were supplied. 42 DG locomotives supplied instead for secondary lines. For main lines including the NIMT, DA class diesel-electric locomotives were ordered from General Motors.

The 411 km (255 mi) section between Palmerston North and Hamilton was electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz AC, opened in June 1988 as one of the Muldoon National Government's "Think Big" energy development projects. An overall cost in excess of $100 million had been projected, with some 40% being for the locomotives, but the final cost was about $250 million. The economics of the project were greatly undermined by the fall of the price of oil in the 1980s and the deregulation of land transport, which removed the long-distance monopoly NZR held when the cost benefit report was written.

The electrification of the section, which had its genesis in a study group set up in June 1974 to report on measures to be taken to cope with increasing rail traffic volumes, received approval in 1980. This led to a technical study carried out with assistance from the Japanese Railway Technical Research Institute. The report stated that track capacity would be increased by electrification because such traction is faster and able to move more freight at once. The report stated, for example, that whereas a diesel locomotive could haul 720-tonne trains at 27 km/h (17 mph) up the Raurimu Spiral, an electric locomotive could haul 1100/1200-tonne trains at 45 km/h (28 mph), cutting 3–5 hours off journey times. Less fuel would be needed and employing regenerative braking in electric locomotives lowers the fuel consumption further.

Electrification's advantages were reflected in the economic evaluation in the report, which showed a rate of return of 18%. Sensitivity analysis showed that this high rate of return gave the project robustness against lower traffic volumes than expected (the return remained positive even if traffic fell), against significant increases in construction cost, and against lower than expected rises in the diesel fuel price.

Part of the project included replacing the copper wire communications system with a new fibre optic communications cable (due to interference caused by AC power with the DC copper wire system) between Wellington and Auckland. In 1994 New Zealand Rail Limited sold the cable to Clear Communications for telephone traffic, leasing part of it back for signalling.[7]

Proposals to electrify the Auckland suburban rail network dated back to the 1960s,[8] they mainly coincided with proposals to electrify the NIMT in its entirety. In 2005 the central government has decided to implement a proposal,[9] to electrify the urban network at 25kV AC, the same system as on the central NIMT.[10] This included 49.5 km (30.8 mi) of the NIMT itself (the Eastern Line from Britomart to Papakura). The first electric services commenced using AM class electric multiple units in April 2014.

The future[edit]

The completion of Auckland's electrification leaves a gap of 87.1 km (54.1 mi) to the central NIMT electrification at Te Rapa, north of Hamilton. Electrification may be extended south as the Auckland suburban system expands, but this will depend on further government funding. In February 2008 former Auckland Regional Council Chairman Mike Lee suggested the initial electrification might be extended to Pukekohe, leaving a 60 km gap to Te Rapa.[11] In 2012, in response to public submissions, the board of Auckland Transport decided to include an investigation into electrifying to Pukekohe to its 10-year programme.[12] Work on electrification of 80 km of the Auckland network, including 33 km of the NIMT between Papakura and Britomart, began in 2010 and is to be completed by 2013.[13]

A paper written in 2008 for then railway infrastructure owner ONTRACK investigated the possibility of electrifying the remaining Papakura-Te Rapa gap between the Auckland urban system's terminus at Papakura on the NIMT and the central NIMT system, along with electrification of the East Coast Main Trunk to Tauranga.[14] The report put the total cost of electrification at $860 million, with $433 million for the Papakura-Te Rapa section.[14] It concluded that money would be better spent on grade and curvature easements, removing speed restrictions and increasing the length of passing loops.[14]

In Wellington, there is an 80.8 km (50.2 mi) gap from Waikanae to the central NIMT electrification at Palmerston North. Since the extension of electrification to Waikanae in February 2012, there have been calls for the electrification to be extended by 15 km (9.3 mi) to Otaki.[15] If this happens, there will be a 66 km (41 mi) gap. As the two electrification systems are different, multi-current locomotives or multiple units would be required for through electric working, or the Kapiti Line and the Wellington suburban network would need to be re-electrified at 25kV AC.

Centennial[edit]

On 6 August 2008 at 9am, a train (which included 100-year-old carriage AA1013, restored by the Mainline Steam Trust) departed Wellington in a re-enactment of the 7 August 1908 Parliamentary Special carrying the Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward to Auckland,[16] which the Prime Minister, stopping overnight at Taihape and Taumarunui before continuing to Auckland. Tickets were by invitation only.

A series of stamps were issued to commemorate the centennial, see Stamps:

  • 50c - Last Spike Ceremony Manganui-o-te-ao - a photo of actual event [17]
  • $1.00 - Taumarunui, 1958 - steam locomotive KA 947 pulling into the old railway station.
  • $1.50 - Makatote Viaduct, 1963.
  • $2.00 - Raurimu Spiral, 1964.
  • $2.50 - The Overlander, Hapuawhenua Viaduct, 2003.

Infrastructure[edit]

The NIMT has been described as an "engineering miracle", with numerous engineering feats especially along the Rangitikei River and on the North Island Volcanic Plateau. This included the building of the famous Raurimu Spiral to allow trains to manage the steep grade from the Whanganui River valley onto the Volcanic Plateau. The NIMT also has nine major viaducts, of which five are over 70 metres (230 ft) high - Makohine (73 m or 240 ft), South Rangitikei (78 m or 256 ft), Kawhatau (73 m or 240 ft), North Rangitikei (81 m or 266 ft), and Makatote (79 m or 259 ft).

The NIMT includes 352 bridges and 14 tunnels.[2]

Rolling stock[edit]

Due to its high volume and high value of traffic to NZR and the steep grades in the central section, the NIMT has used the most powerful locomotives in New Zealand.

History[edit]

When the NIMT opened in 1909, the powerful 4-8-2 X class was introduced to handle heavy traffic over the mountainous central North Island section. Four G class Garratt-type locomotives were introduced in 1928, but these locomotives were not as effective as anticipated. In 1932 the 4-8-4 K class was introduced, and later improved in 1939 with the KA.

The introduction of the English Electric DF class in 1954 began the end of the steam era, and in 1955 with the introduction of the DA major withdrawals of steam locomotives began. 1972 saw the introduction of DX locomotives and the Silver Fern railcars: the latter remained in service between Auckland and Wellington until 1991.

With electrification and the introduction of the EF class electric locomotives in the late 1980s, the DX class was mainly reassigned to other areas of the network, including hauling coal on the Midland Line in the South Island. Since then services between Te Rapa and Palmerston North have been worked mainly by the electrics, although some services are still diesel operated, such as those originating from or terminating on other lines, or originating from within the central section, like the paper pulp freight trains from Karioi.

Current stock[edit]

As of 2014, regular rolling stock on the NIMT include:

Future rolling stock[edit]

  • AM class - Auckland suburban (replacing ADK and ADL classes)

Connecting lines[edit]

Line Name Date Opened Date Closed NIMT Junction Terminus Length Notes
Newmarket Line 24-12-1873 Open Quay Park Junction Newmarket Junction 2.5 km Formerly Auckland-Onehunga line 1873-1877, Auckland-Waikato line 1877-1908, NIMT 1908-1930.
North Auckland Line 20-5-1875 Open Westfield Junction Otiria Junction 280 km
Manukau Branch 15-4-2012 Open Wiri Junction Manukau 2.5 km
Mission Bush Branch 10-12-1917 Open Paerata Junction Mission Bush 17 km Formerly Waiuku Branch. Glenbrook Vintage Railway uses the 8 km Glenbrook-Waiuku section.
Kimihia Branch Open Huntly North Kimihia Mine 2.75 km
Rotowaro Branch 20-12-1915 Open Huntly Rotowaro 8.5 km Formerly Glen Afton Branch (14 km long). Bush Tramway Club uses the 2 km section Pukemiro to Glen Afton.
Waipa Railway and Coal Co. line 1-3-1914 19-5-1958 Ngaruawahia Wilton Collieries 10.5 km Private line. Operated by NZR from 12-8-1935 to closure.
East Coast Main Trunk 20-10-1879 Open Frankton Junction Kawerau 180 km Formerly Thames Branch (1879-1928). Line reduced in length by Kaimai Deviation, 1978. Former length 230 km.
Stratford–Okahukura Line 4-9-1933 Mothballed 2009 Okahukura Junction Stratford 144 km Leased to Forgotten World Adventures Ltd.
Raetihi Branch 18-12-1917 1-1-1968 Ohakune Junction Raetihi 13 km
Marton–New Plymouth Line 4-2-1878 Open Marton Junction Breakwater (New Plymouth) 212 km
Taonui Branch 17-11-1879 14-8-1895 Taonui Colyton 3.5 km
Palmerston North–Gisborne Line 9-3-1891 Open Roslyn Junction Gisborne 391 km Napier-Gisborne section mothballed 2012. Gisborne City Railway use Gisborne-Muriwai section (16 km)
Foxton Branch 4-1873 18-7-1959 Longburn Junction Foxton 31 km Part of Foxton-New Plymouth Railway until 1908
Wairarapa Line 14-4-1874 Open Distant Junction (Wellington) Woodville 170 km Reduced in length by closure of Rimutaka Incline (1955) from 182 km.
Johnsonville Branch 24-9-1885 Open Wellington Junction Johnsonville 10 km Built by the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company. 6 km Johnsonville-Tawa section closed 19-6-1937.
Te Aro Branch 27-3-1893 23-4-1917 Wellington (Lambton) Te Aro 1.77 km

Notable connecting tramways and other lines[edit]

Junction Station Date Opened Date Closed Owner Notes
Drury 1862 unknown Drury Coal Company Horse tramway
Kellyville Public Works Department Construction of Pokeno to Paeroa line, not completed beyond Mangatawhiri.
Ngaruawahia 1-3-1914 19-5-1958 Waipa Railway and Coal Co. 10 km private railway.
Otorohonga 1921 Rangitoto Colliery Co. 6 km horse tram
Mangapehi 1944 Ellis and Bernand Steam-powered bush tramway
Waione Siding 1950 Marton Sash and Door Co Steam-powered bush tramway
Ongarue 1956 Ellis and Bernand Extensive steam-powered bush tramway (now part of a cycle trail)
Manunui 1944 Ellis and Bernand Extensive steam-powered bush tramway
Oio 1935 King Speirs and Co Steam-powered bush tramway
Mansons Siding Manson and Clark Steam-powered bush tramway
Raurimu 1935 King Speirs and Co Steam-powered bush tramway
Raurimu 1935 1957 Raurimu Sawmilling Co Steam-powered bush tramway
Pokaka 1930 1957 Pokaka Timber Co Steam-powered bush tramway
Horopito Horopito Sawmills Ltd Highest railway in New Zealand, summit at 923.5 metres above sea level.
Longburn 27-10-1886 7-12-1908 Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company Private line, purchased by NZR and incorporated into NIMT

Passenger services[edit]

Long-distance[edit]

From opening there have been regular passenger services between Wellington and Auckland.

Between 1963 and 1968 daytime trains were called the Scenic Daylight. In 1968, an RM class 88-seater railcar was refurbished and repainted in a distinctive blue scheme that led to it being nicknamed the Blue Streak. It initially operated an unsuccessful service between Hamilton and Auckland in early 1968, and was transferred to the Auckland-Wellington run on 23 September 1968.

In 1971 NZR introduced the Silver Star, a luxury sleeper train. The service was not economically viable, and was withdrawn in 1979. Much more successful was the Silver Fern, a daytime railcar service, introduced in 1972 to replace the "Blue Streak". This service was withdrawn in 1991 and replaced by The Overlander.

In conjunction with the introduction of the carriage train Overlander service, the Silver Fern railcars were redeployed to start new services between Tauranga and Auckland - Kaimai Express, and Auckland and Rotorua - Geyserland Express, in 1991. In 2000 a new commuter service called the Waikato Connection was introduced between Hamilton and Auckland and ran in conjunction with the services to Tauranga and Rotorua until all three services were cancelled in 2001.

On 25 July 2006 Toll announced that the Overlander would cease at the end of September 2006, but on 28 September 2006 the train's continuation on a limited timetable was announced.[18] It now runs daily during the summer months and thrice-weekly for the balance of the year.

In 2012 KiwiRail announced the Overlander would be replaced by the Northern Explorer, with new AK class carriages to provide a premium tourist train on a quicker timetable with fewer stops. It commenced on Monday 25 June 2012, and consists of one train running from Auckland to Wellington on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and Wellington to Auckland on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. It has fewer stops than the Overlander, stopping only at Papakura, Hamilton, Otorohanga, National Park, Ohakune, Palmerston North and Paraparaumu.

The Capital Connection commuter train operates between Palmerston North and Wellington.

Both KiwiRail and private enthusiast operators such as the Railway Enthusiasts Society, Mainline Steam and Steam Inc operate charter trains.

Auckland suburban[edit]

Between Britomart Transport Centre and Pukekohe in the Auckland Region suburban trains run at regular intervals.

Eastern Line (Pukekohe, Papakura and Otahuhu to Britomart via Glen Innes) trains run along the NIMT between Pukekohe and Britomart.

Southern Line (Pukekohe, Papakura and Otahuhu to Britomart via Newmarket) trains run along the NIMT from Pukekohe to Westfield, the North Auckland Line to Newmarket, and the Newmarket Line to the NIMT at Quay Park junction.

Western Line trains use the NIMT between Quay Park junction and Britomart.

Wellington suburban[edit]

Wellington's Metlink suburban network, operated by Tranz Metro, includes the southern portion of the NIMT between Wellington railway station and Waikanae as its Kapiti Line.

Stations[edit]

[19][20]

Station Distance from Wellington Height above sea level (m) Opened Closed Notes
Wellington 0 km 2.4m 1937 Open Replaced NZR's Lambton and WMR's Thorndon stations, which closed upon completion.
Lambton 0 km 2.4m 1884 1937 Slightly north of current Wellington station.
Pipitea 0.75 km 2.4m 1874 1884 Original Wellington station, on Pipitea Quay.
Thorndon 0.75 km 2.4m 1886 1937 Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, near of Pipitea station
Kaiwharawhara 2.44 km 2.4m 1874 2013 Kaiwarra until 1951.
Takapu Road 11.78 km 41m 1937 Open
Redwood 13.16 km 26.5m 1963 Open
Tawa 13.58 km 25.6m 1937 Open Tawa Flat (closed 1937) was 12 metres above Redwood station on adjacent hillside.
Linden 14.85 km 17.7m 1940 Open
Kenepuru 16.16 km 15m 1940 Open
Porirua 17.8 km 3.6m 1885 Open
Paremata 21.7 km 2.7m 1885 Open
Mana 23.04 km 3m 1949 Open Dolly Varden until 1960.
Plimmerton 24.4 km 5.8m 1885 Open
Pukerua Bay 30.1 km 80m 1885 Open
Muri 31.15 km 77m 1952 2011
Paekakariki 38.84 km 7m 1886 Open
Wainui 40.85 km 9m 1886 1900
Paraparaumu 48.28 km 13.7m 1886 Open
Otaihunga 51.5 km 21m 1886 1902
Waikanae 55.31 km 31m 1886 Open
Hadfield 60 km 39m 1886 1906
Te Horo 64.77 km 19.2m 1886 1965
Hautere 67.6 km 15.2m 1886 1900
Otaki 70.28 km 14.6m 1886 Open
Manakau 79.3 km 30.5m 1886 1967 Known as "Manukau" until 1905.
Ohau 84.95 km 30.7m 1886 c.1970
Levin 90.3 km 36.5m 1886 Open Known as "Weraroa" 1886-1894.
Queen Street 91.37 km 36.5m 1956 c.1970
Levin 91.5 km 36.5m 1886 1894
Koputaroa 99.23 km 8.5m 1886 c.1970 Kereru until 1906.
Shannon 106.57 km 12.2m 1886 Open
Makerua 111.84 km 7.62m 1886 c.1970
Tokomaru 118.35 km 17.7m 1886 closed
Linton 124.19 km 18.3m 1886 closed
Longburn 129.69 km 19.8m 1873 closed
Awapuni 132 km 24.7m 1876 1965
Palmerston North 135.76 km 30m 1873 1965
Terrace End 138.51 km 38.1m 1876 1964
Palmerston North 136.03 km 28m 1963 Open
Bunnythorpe 144.47 km 55.2m 1876 closed
Taonui 148.62 km 61.9m 1876 1963
Aorangi 150.66 km 70.7m 1876 1965
Feilding 152.98 km 72.2m 1876 2012
Makino Road 156.26 km 103m 1878 1960
Maewa 158.34 km 107m 1878 1962
Halcombe 165.76 km 118m 1878 closed
Kakariki 171.12 km 70m 1878 closed
Greatford 175.67 km 104.5m 1878 c.1970
Marton 180.25 km 140.8m 1878 2012
Cliff Road 183.58 km 159.7m 1888 1966
Overton 188.85 km 155m 1888 1958
Porewa 190.53 km 165m 1888 closed
Rata 195.46 km 194m 1888 1975
Silverhope 199.31 km 224m 1888 1966
Hunterville 205.33 km 267m 1888 1986
Kaikarangi 210.18 km 284m 1888 1964
Mangaonoho 216.04 km 257m 1893 1966
Ohingaiti 222.14 km 279m 1902 1975
Mangaweka 231.04 km 326.7m 1902 1982
Utiku 243.69 km 371m 1904 closed
Ohotu 247.08 km 395.6m 1904 closed
Winiata 249.02 km 415m 1904 closed
Taihape 251.85 km 442m 1904 2012
Mataroa 260.88 km 530m 1907 closed
Ngaurukehu 270.25 km 640m 1908 closed
Turangarere 274.5 km 702m 1912 1972
Hihitahi 278.2 km 741m 1908 closed Turangarere until 1912. "Hihitahi" is a sound-based local Maori word for "locomotive".
Waiouru 290.3 km 813.8m 1908 2005 Highest railway station in New Zealand.
Tangiwai 299.49 km 699.5m 1909 closed Nearest station to the Tangiwai disaster, December 24, 1953.
Karioi 306.94 km 630.3m 1909 closed
Rangataua 312.79 km 670m 1909 closed
Ohakune 317.09 km 618.4m 1908 open Ohakune Junction in working timetables 1917-1968.
Horopito 326.91 km 752m 1909 1981 Used as location for Smash Palace movie, 1981
Pokaka 332.57 km 811m 1909 closed
Erua 340.13 km 742.5m 1908 closed
National Park 346.83 km 806.8m 1908 open Waimarino until 1949.
Raurimu 358.31 km 589m 1908 closed
Oio 366.25 km 520m 1908 closed Known to WW2 American servicemen as "Zero-10". Shortest station name in the North Island, with Ava.
Owhango 371.89 km 456.6m 1908 closed
Kakahi 382 km 266m 1908 closed
Piriaka 387.15 km 230m 1908 closed
Manunui 391.9 km 190.5m 1908 closed
Matapuna 394.8 km 180m 1908 closed
Taumarunui 397.75 km 171m 1903 2012
Taringamotu 402 km 172.5m 1903 1971
Okahukura 408.54 178.3m 1903 closed Okahukura Junction in working timetables 1933-2010.
Te Koura 412.75 km 182m 1909 1975
Ongarue 420.68 km 192.6m 1903 1986
Waione Siding 426.86 km 208m 1921 1950
Waimiha 434.39 km 232m 1903 1983
Poro-O-Tarao 444.05 km 339.2m 1901 1979
Mangapehi 449.47 km 285.3m 1901 1984 Known as "Mangapeehi" station 1901-1920.
Kopaki 454.35 km 265m 1901 closed Paratikana until 1920.
Puketutu 461.83 km 206m 1889 closed Mokau" until 1912.
Waiteti 470.07 km 135m 1889 closed
Te Kuiti 475.66 km 54m 1887 2012
Te Kumi 478.56 km 49.6m 1887 closed
Hangatiki 485.2 km 39.9m 1887 closed
Otorohonga 494.41 km 37m 1887 2012 Reopened summer 2012
Kiokio 498.45 km 35.4m 1887 1973
Te Kawa 506.88 km 47.8m 1887 1982
Te Mawhai 513 km 35.6m 1887 1958 Te Puhi until 1900
Te Awamutu 517.02 km 50m 1880 2005 New Zealand Dairy Board (now Fonterra) rebuilt its freight connection about 2000.[21]
Ngaroto 519.92 km 56m 1880 1954
Lake Road 522.26 km 54m 1880 closed
Ohaupo 527.16 km 52m 1880 1982
Rukuhia 533.59 km 55m 1880 1970
Hamilton 542.52 km 37.5m 1877 Open Previously Hamilton Junction and Frankton Junction.
Te Rapa Racecourse 547.50 km 33.2m 1920 1980
Te Rapa 549.25 km 33m 1877 1970 Not to be confused with Te Rapa Marshalling Yards (547 km from Wellington).
Horotiu 553.65 km 23.7m 1877 c1968 Pukete until 1920
Ngaruawahia 559.16 km 20.7m 1877 c1968 Newcastle until 1895.
Taupiri 566.56 km 13.7m 1877 c1968
Huntly 573.87 km 14m 1877 1998
Kimihia 578.45 km 14m 1877 1948 Notice of closure after Sunday 27 August 1939 in Auckland Star and NZ Herald.
Ohinewai 582.04 km 10m 1877 c1968
Rangiriri 588.11 9m 1877 1957
Te Kauwhata 591.62 km 12.2m 1877 1984
Whangamarino 598.34 km 6.7m 1877 1978
Amokura 604.53 km 7m 1877 1980
Mercer 609.16 km 6.4m 1877 1986
Pokeno 613.96 km 24m 1877 c1968
Whangarata 617.90 km 59.7m 1877 c1968
Tuakau 621.41 km 37m 1875 1986
Buckland 625.6 km 58m 1875 closed
Pukekohe 628.86 km 60.65m 1875 open
Paerata 633.29 km 45.1m 1875 1980 Paerata Junction from 1917.
Runciman 638.37 km 8m 1875 1939
Drury 640 km 9m 1875 1980
Opaheke 642.9 km 14.5m 1875 1955 Hunua 1877-1939.
Papakura 647.02 km 19.2m 1875 Open
Tironui 648.95 km 15.5m 1904 1980
Takanini 650.64 km 15.2m 1875 Open
Te Mahia 652.24 km 14.9m 1904 Open
Manurewa 653.1 km 17m 1875 Open
Homai 655.7 km 30.78m 1904 Open
Wiri 657.6 km 22.25m 1913 2005
Puhinui 658.92 km 19.8m 1904 Open
Papatoitoi 659.63 km 18.9m 1875 1904
Papatoetoe 660.42 km 18m 1904 Open
Middlemore 662.28 km 8.8m 1904 Open
Mangere 663.02 km 10.66m 1904 2011
Otahuhu 664.15 km 9.44m 1875 Open
Westfield 665.5 km 7.6m 1904 Open
Sylvia Park 667.09 km 7.6m 1931 Open Relocated 1 km further north, 2007.
Panmure 669.93 km 17.7m 1931 Open Relocated 200m north, 2007.
Tamaki 671.28 km 23.5m 1930 1980
Glen Innes 672.64 km 22m 1930 Open
Purewa 675.4 km 18m 1930 1955
Meadowbank 676.26 km 12m 1954 Open
Orakei 677.44 km 4.5m 1930 Open
The Strand 680.76 km 2.7m 1930 Open Was platform 7 (later platform 4) of 1930-2003 Auckland station. Used for steam services.
Britomart Transport Centre 682 km 4m below sea level 2003 Open

Record runs[edit]

Record runs from Auckland to Wellington were the 1960 Moohan Rocket (train) of 11 hours 34 minutes in 1960, and the Standard railcar time of 9 hours 26 minutes (running time 8 hours 42 minutes) in 1967.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dearnaley, Mathew (9 August 2008). "Steel backbone an economic lifeline". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Wright, Danielle (28 June 2011). "Auckland to Wellington: It's the journey that counts". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Pierre 1981, p. 118.
  4. ^ Pierre 1981, p. 138,146.
  5. ^ "NIMT bridge replacement project". KiwiRail. 29 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "KiwiRail - Wellington Projects". 22 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "September 1994 decisions". Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa. 
  8. ^ Churchman, p. 30.
  9. ^ New Zealand Herald (21 May 2007). "$1b Auckland rail upgrade powers ahead". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2007-05-21. 
  10. ^ ARTA PDF
  11. ^ Dearnaley, Mathew (6 June 2008). "Electric train lines may reach Hamilton". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  12. ^ Mathew Dearnaley (22 May 2012). "Push for electric to Pukekohe". 
  13. ^ "KiwiRail awards Auckland rail electrification contract". Radio New Zealand. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c "EXTENSION OF ELECTRIFICATION - Benefits and Costs - Report to ONTRACK". Murray King and Francis Small Consulting. 2008. 
  15. ^ Nigel Wilson. "Raumati Station Now". Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  16. ^ "Unique rail carriage on track for re-enactment". Wairarapa Times-Age. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  17. ^ "Stamp Issue Celebrates Main Trunk Line Centenary". New Zealand Post Stamp issue. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  18. ^ "Overlander to continue running". New Zealand Herald. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  19. ^ New Zealand Railway and Tramway Atlas (First ed.). Quail Map Co. 1965. pp. 3 & 4. 
  20. ^ Pierre, Bill (1981). North Island Main Trunk. Wellington: A.H&A.W Reed. pp. 289–290. ISBN 0589013165. 
  21. ^ http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/405479/Last-loco-unable-to-get-out-under-own-steam

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bill Pierre (1981). North Island Main Trunk: An Illustrated History. A.H. & A.W. Reed. ISBN 0-589-01316-5. 
  • Churchman, Geoffrey B.; Hurst, Tony (1991). The Railways of New Zealand: A Journey Through History (reprint ed.). HarperCollins Publishers (New Zealand). ISBN 978-0-908876-20-4. 

External links[edit]