New Zealand AK class carriage

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New Zealand AK class
Coastal Pacific 01.JPG
Northbound Coastal Pacific about to cross Dublin Street and terminate at Picton.
In service2 November 2011
ManufacturerHillside Engineering
Number built17
Number in service17
Fleet numbersAK, AKC (cafe)
Capacity63 (AK car)
10 (AKC car)
Operator(s)KiwiRail Scenic Journeys
Depot(s)Waltham depot (Christchurch), Westfield (Auckland)
Line(s) servedMain North Line,
Midland Line
North Island Main Trunk
Car body construction19.53 m (64 ft 1 in)
Car length20.38 m (66 ft 10 in) over couplers
Width2.74 m (9 ft 0 in)
Height3.72 m (12 ft 2 in)
DoorsFour plug-type doors (AK car)
WeightAK: 37.4 t (36.8 long tons; 41.2 short tons)
AKC: 37.4 t (36.8 long tons; 41.2 short tons)
Train heatingHeating and air conditioning
Track gauge3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)

The New Zealand AK class of 17 cars was built in Dunedin's Hillside Workshops for KiwiRail's long-distance passenger operation KiwiRail Scenic Journeys consisting of 11 AK saloon cars and four AKC cafe cars, supplemented by three AKL luggage vans and four AKV open-air viewing/generator vans converted from AG vans, similar to those previously used on the Coastal Pacific and the TranzAlpine.

Two AK, an AKC, an AKL and an AKV entered service on the Coastal Pacific on 2 November 2011.[1]

The class is used on the Coastal Pacific, the Northern Explorer and the TranzAlpine, replacing panorama 56-foot carriages. Funding of $NZ39.9 million was announced by the fifth National government in March 2009.

The class features a new white livery with the KiwiRail logo.[2]

Due to passenger loadings falling on both South Island trains as a result of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, three AK, one AKC, one AKL and one AKV were transferred to the North Island for the new three-times-a-week Auckland-Wellington Northern Explorer. In late 2018, the redistributed Coastal Pacific carriages were returned for the re-opening of the service in December 2018.

As part of the re-opening of the Coastal Pacific, the Government and KiwiRail announced new NZ$40 million carriage investment including new premium carriages.[3]


The class was designed by KiwiRail's mechanical design staff in Wellington. It has GPS-triggered announcements, with displays on ceiling-mounted screens and commentary at each seat in five languages: English, French, German, Japanese and Mandarin.[4] It runs on newly designed air-cushioned P11 bogies.[5] Seating was supplied by a Wellington-based manufacturer.[6]

With large panoramic windows and quarter lights in the roof, the area of glass per AK car is 52 m2 (560 sq ft). To one side of each seat is a jack for headphones for the on-board commentary, and in front of each seat is a flip-down tray table. Seats facing each other in groups of four are positioned around a fixed table. Power points are provided at each seat area. Carry-on baggage can be stored overhead.

Support vehicles[edit]

In March 2018 it was reported that two SA carriages were being overhauled and converted into luggage vans for KiwiRail Scenic Journeys. [7] This was later revised to three SA carriage conversions into AKS luggage vans of six SA carriages moved to Hutt Workshops. The new AKS vans are fitted with a crew compartment, luggage and bicycle racks, recycling and catering storage. [8][9][10]

Northern Explorer AK and AKV cars at Wellington
The interior of an AK
Seating in an AK


  1. ^ Palmer, Kloe (3 November 2011). "New carriages debut on South-Island's rails". Christchurch: 3 News. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  2. ^ "AK1 External". Flickr user 'Wekapass' – accessed 27 March 2011.
  3. ^ "AK1 External". Kiwirail Press Release – accessed 21 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Hillside Engineering unveils work in progress". Otago Daily Times. 18 May 2010.
  5. ^ "KiwiRail chooses motovated for new bogie". Scoop News – accessed 29 March 2011.
  6. ^ RUTHERFORD, HAMISH (25 July 2011). "Rail contract boom for Lower Hutt firm". The Dominion Post. Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Railfan". 24 (2). Triple M Publications. March 2018. ISSN 1173-2229.
  8. ^ "Railfan". 24 (3). Triple M Publications. June 2018. ISSN 1173-2229.
  9. ^ "Railfan". 24 (4). Triple M Publications. September 2018. ISSN 1173-2229.
  10. ^ "Old NZ trains brought back to life". Maori Television. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • KiwiRail Locomotive and Rolling Stock Register - 2011. Mosgiel, New Zealand: Triple M Productions. 2011. ISBN 978-0-9582072-2-5.

External links[edit]