Coastal Pacific

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Coastal Pacific
Coastal Pacific on Kaikoura Coast.jpg
The Coastal Pacific alongside the Kaikoura Coast
Overview
Service type Inter-city rail
Status Operational
Locale Upper South Island, New Zealand
First service 1988
Current operator(s) KiwiRail Scenic
Former operator(s) InterCity Rail (1988–1995)
Tranz Scenic (1995-2012)
Route
Start Christchurch
Stops 6
End Picton
Distance travelled 348 km (216 mi)
Average journey time 5 hours, 13 minutes
Service frequency Daily each way, "summer" season only
On-board services
Class(es) Standard only
Disabled access Wheelchair hoist in café car
Seating arrangements Airline-style
Alcove with table
Catering facilities On-board café
Observation facilities Large windows in all carriages
Open-air observation carriage
Baggage facilities Overhead racks
Baggage carriage
Technical
Rolling stock NZR DC class locomotives
New Zealand AK class carriages
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Operating speed 66 km/h (41 mph) average

The Coastal Pacific is a long-distance passenger train between Picton and Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand, operated by Tranz Scenic.[1] It was called the TranzCoastal from May 2000 until temporarily withdrawn in February 2011.[2] It was the first train to use the new AK class carriages.

History[edit]

Before the Main North Line was completed, the open sections were served by mixed trains and the Culverden Express. On 15 December 1945 the line was completed and the Picton Express began operating, providing a daily service between Picton and Christchurch. In January 1946 the express was cut to thrice weekly, and its popularity and profitability declined. In February 1956 it was replaced by a more frequent railcar service, using RM class 88-seaters. When these railcars wore out in the 1970s, carriage trains were re-introduced, sometimes known as the Picton Express.

In April 2006, Toll NZ announced its intention to sell the TranzCoastal and the TranzAlpine.[3] However with the purchase of Toll NZ's rail assets in 2008 by the government, these plans never came to fruition. KiwiRail has upgraded the remaining three long-distance passenger services.

Following the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch on February 22, KiwiRail suspended the train, later announcing that it would return on 15 August 2011[4] under its original name, the Coastal Pacific.[5] It was replaced by a bus service, which was withdrawn on 10 April.[6] Since 2013 the train has been run as a seasonal service, serving the peak tourist season between about September to April with no services in the winter months, to offset operating losses.[7]

Route and stations[edit]

The train runs daily between Christchurch and Picton, stopping at Rangiora, Waipara, Mina, Kaikoura, Seddon and Blenheim,[8] along the Main North Line. It was introduced on Sunday, 25 September 1988 and took 5 hours 20 minutes. In the present timetable the northbound journey takes 5 hours 13 minutes, the southbound 5 hours 21 minutes.

Rolling stock[edit]

From 1982 until 1988 the Picton Express and the Greymouth and West Coast Expresses shared a pool of 12 former second class NZR 56-foot carriages and guard's vans with six 50-ft wooden box wagons/parcel vans, all painted bright red with wall-to-wall carpet, fluorescent strip lights and later, a new design of seat from Addington Workshops. Cars with luggage space seated 46, passenger-only cars seated 52.

In 1984-1985, while the cars were being fitted with new seats, three Southerner cars and a modular van for baggage were used.

The TranzCoastal crossing the double-decker rail and road bridge near Seddon in April 2007

Refurbishment of service[edit]

In 1987, due to the need to re-equip the deteriorating yellow Northerner trains, cars were reallocated and refurbished to cover.

With this change, the last three original Southerner day cars remaining were refurbished to the same design as the three "big window" cars on the TranzAlpine and the sole Connoisseur car. Two cars seated 51 each in the seats designed by Addington Workshops, which were reupholstered and re-arranged, alcove-style, around tables. The third car became a 31-seat servery/observation car fitted out similarly to its TranzAlpine counterpart, but with detail differences in the buffet counter area. A Mitsubishi - built FM/AG van was fitted with an 11-kW petrol generator at the handbrake end for power/baggage duties.

The new Coastal Pacific became a favourite with travelers, but it did not attract the same level of popularity as the TranzAlpine. In 1993, a "backpackers" car (a former red Picton - Greymouth car with luggage space at one end) was introduced, for a cheaper option. This premise proved popular, as did adding up to five wagons authorised to travel at 100 km/h conveying priority freight for the North Island or deep South.

In the early 1990s, the cars were equipped with pressure ventilation like the Bay Express cars and the TranzAlpine rear observation car.

Connoisseur service[edit]

On 19 January 1987, a private tourism firm leased a 29 (later 45) seat single-lavatory South Island Main Trunk first class car refurbished in 1970 for the Southerner and attached it to the Picton train initially, before expanding its operation to Greymouth and later Invercargill. It was marketed as a luxury carriage: it offered the same level of comfort as other Southerner cars, but the service was to a higher standard. Originally named the Connoisseurs' Express car, it was heavily refurbished to offer a superior quality service and renamed The Connoisseur car.

Rebranding and re-equipping[edit]

A Picton-bound TranzCoastal departing Christchurch

During 1996, the original TranzAlpine observation car was thoroughly overhauled and air-conditioning installed, and this car, along with the two former Lynx Express cars and the car with luggage space, were permanently assigned to this train. The backpackers' car was later replaced by the only former Southerner (later Northerner) car to escape rebuilding as a panorama car or scrapping. It was fitted with 47 of the same type of Addington seat that it had had in the mid to late 1980s, all seats facing toward the two centre tables, one on both sides of the aisle of the car, and became the new backpackers' car. The former Connoisseur car, thoroughly refurbished the

Heading north through Christchurch

year before with air conditioning installed, assumed regular duty. The Lynx Express baggage van and later the first of the NIMT baggage vans were also allocated to this service. Later, the second backpacker car had air conditioning installed, and in late 2003, was transferred north for the Overlander or Wairarapa Connection'.

The baggage van fitted out for the initial third NIMT passenger trainset in 1992 had its central and one end module converted into an open viewing area, while the other end module remained for luggage.

New rolling stock[edit]

Coastal Pacific at Christchurch with new AK cars in December 2011.

At KiwiRail's Hillside Railway Workshops, building had commenced on new carriages for the Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine services, classed AK. The new cars for the Coastal Pacific entered service toward the end of 2011.[5]

Accident[edit]

On Tuesday, December 12, 1989, the train struck a truck on the railway line which had earlier crashed into a car with an elderly couple inside.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The TranzCoastal: Discover the wild spirit of the coast". Tranz Scenic. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  2. ^ Wheeler, Bob (11 October 2000). "Chairman’s Address to Shareholders, 2000 Annual Meeting". Wellington: Tranz Rail Holdings. 
  3. ^ "Tranz Alpine journey up for grabs". Television New Zealand. 22 May 2006. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  4. ^ GORMAN, PAUL (5 April 2011). "TranzCoastal off rails till August". The Press (Christchurch: Fairfax New Zealand). Retrieved 5 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "TranzCoastal service resumes with new Coastal Pacific identity", The Express (104), 2011: 1 
  6. ^ BUTTERFIELD, TANIA (5 April 2011). "East coast rail service is stopped". The Marlborough Express (Blenheim: Fairfax New Zealand). Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  7. ^ HERSELMAN, SVEN (5 May 2014). "All aboard for last run of the season". The Marlborough Express (Blenheim: Fairfax NZ News). Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Tranz Scenic Stations

External links[edit]