New Zealand British Rail Mark 2 carriage

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British Rail Mark 2
WAB 794 train near Woodville.jpg
The eight Capital Connection S class carriages hauled by WAB 794 on an excursion near Woodville on 31 August 2003
New Zealand BR Mk2 carriage SW5658 interior.JPG
Interior of Wairarapa Connection carriage SW 5658
In service1971–present (UK)
1998–present (NZ)
ManufacturerBritish Rail Engineering Limited
Built atDerby Litchurch Lane Works, England
Entered service1998–present
RefurbishedHillside Engineering, Dunedin
Hutt Workshops, Lower Hutt
Number built1,876 (UK)
150 (NZ)
Fleet numbersBR numbers allocated at time of original build
CapacityS servery: 30
S standard: 60
SA: 67
SD: 49
SE: 75
SEG: 44
SES: 63
SW: 64
SWG: 37
SWS: 37
Operator(s)KiwiRail Scenic
Tranz Metro
Transdev Auckland
Depot(s)Thorndon (S, SE, SW)
Line(s) servedNorth Island Main Trunk (WellingtonPalmerston North)
Wairarapa Line (Wellington–Masterton)
Car body constructionSteel
Car length19.66 metres (64 ft 6 in)
Width2.82 metres (9 ft 3 in)
Height3.58–3.65 metres (11 ft 9 in–12 ft 0 in)
Floor height1.00–1.08 metres (3 ft 3 in–3 ft 7 in)
Doors4× electrically-operated plug doors (S, SE, SW)
4× electrically operated twin sliding doors (SA, SD)
Maximum speed160 km/h (100 mph) (as built)
100 km/h (62 mph) (S, SE, SW)
90 km/h (56 mph) (SA, SD)
WeightS servery: 29.3 tonnes (28.8 long tons; 32.3 short tons)
S standard: 28.40 tonnes (27.95 long tons; 31.31 short tons)
SA: 31.00 tonnes (30.51 long tons; 34.17 short tons)
SD: 35.00 tonnes (34.45 long tons; 38.58 short tons)
SE: 33.25 tonnes (32.72 long tons; 36.65 short tons)
SEG: 34.25 tonnes (33.71 long tons; 37.75 short tons)
SES: 33.25 tonnes (32.72 long tons; 36.65 short tons)
SR: 33.25 tonnes (32.72 long tons; 36.65 short tons)
SRC: 33.25 tonnes (32.72 long tons; 36.65 short tons)
SRV: 33.25 tonnes (32.72 long tons; 36.65 short tons)
SW: 33.25 tonnes (32.72 long tons; 36.65 short tons)
SWG: 34.25 tonnes (33.71 long tons; 37.75 short tons)
SWS: 32.25 tonnes (31.74 long tons; 35.55 short tons)
Power supplySD: Perkins / Leroy-Somer – FG Wilson P110E rated at 110KVA
SEG, SWG: diesel alternator rated at 230KVA (type unknown)
Train heatingHeating and air-conditioning in all classes
Bogiesx28020plus and S-Ride
Braking system(s)S: 26C
SA, SD, SE, SEG, SES, SW, SWG, SWS: 26C with graduated release function
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
(originally 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge)

The New Zealand British Rail Mark 2 carriages were built by British Rail Engineering Limited for British Rail in the early 1970s. From the mid-1990s, 150 were exported to New Zealand and after being rebuilt, refurbished and re-gauged, entered service with a variety of operators on New Zealand's railway network. The carriages generally replaced older NZR 56-foot carriages, some of which had been in use for almost 70 years.


In Britain[edit]

Mark 2 TSO M6046 in April 2012 in original British Rail livery

The British Rail Mark 2 was the second design of carriage by British Rail (BR). The first was built in 1963.

Between 1964 and 1975, 1,876 Mark 2 carriages were constructed at Derby Litchurch Lane Works. There were seven sub-classes, 2 & 2A to 2F. The Mark 2D to 2F classes, built from 1971 onwards, had air conditioning and could be distinguished from earlier sub-classes by having sheet glass windows. All of the carriages imported into New Zealand were from these latter three sub-classes. When introduced they were used on all mainline services in Great Britain. They were superseded by British Rail Mark 3 carriages.

In New Zealand[edit]

Because of construction constraints, most railway lines in New Zealand have a limited loading gauge. Great Britain uses 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge, but its loading gauge is only slightly larger than New Zealand's Cape gauge. This means that British Rail rolling stock like the Mark 2 carriage can run on most New Zealand lines after gauge conversion. To fit the New Zealand loading gauge, the Mark 2s were lowered on their new bogies by 25 centimetres.[1]

New Zealand rail operator Tranz Rail and heritage operator Mainline Steam Heritage Trust bought 69 Mark 2 carriages (one damaged by fire after arrival) in 1996. Eight were extensively refurbished for the WellingtonPalmerston North Capital Connection, classified S (for Scenic), with new Japanese bogies and new auto plug doors and interiors. The refurbishment proved more costly than expected, and the remaining carriages were laid up until a rebuilding programme began for the Auckland Regional Transport Authority for Auckland suburban trains. Classified SA/SD, these have two sets of sliding doors each side and are operated by Transdev Auckland for Auckland Transport in push-pull mode, with DC (four-car sets) or DFT (six-car sets) locomotives leased from KiwiRail. The SD carriages include a driver's cab and operate in a similar manner to DBSOs in the UK.

In the southern autumn of 2006, Mark 2E and 2F carriages formerly operated by One were imported into New Zealand. They were bought by Greater Wellington Regional Council for operation by Tranz Metro on the Metlink Wairarapa Connection between Wellington and Masterton and were rebuilt at Hillside Workshops in Dunedin, classified SW, SWG and SWS.

Six more were bought by Greater Wellington Regional Council for trains between Wellington, Upper Hutt and Plimmerton, top-and-tailed by EO electric locomotives. These were refurbished by Hillside Workshops and classified SE, SEG and SES.

In late 2009, all S, SE and SW carriages were required to be modified so that their pneumatically-operated interior doors open automatically if the compressed air supply is lost. This was identified as an issue after the locomotive on a Wairarapa Connection train derailed when it hit a landslide on 23 July 2009, resulting in the locomotive having to be shut down and cutting the compressed air supply to the SW carriages in the process. The doors stuck in position, and three people were required to open them manually, sparking safety concerns that the carriages could not be evacuated quickly in the event of a fire.[2]

Capital Connection[edit]

The eight S (Scenic) carriages operate on KiwiRail's Capital Connection service between Wellington and Palmerston North, each seating 60 (except the servery car, S 3200, which seats 31) in both alcove and airline-style arrangements. These were the first Mark 2 rebuilds, and they retain the original window configuration and curved Corten-steel vestibule ends. Seven cars, accompanied by refurbished baggage/generator carriage AG 130, were provided in 1998. An eighth car was added in 1999.

They are in the Capital Connection livery of light and dark blue, having originally been in Tranz Rail 'Cato Blue' with grey roofs and black underfloor equipment.

Wellington suburban[edit]

The SW (Suburban Wairarapa) type is owned by the Greater Wellington Regional Council, leased to Transdev Wellington to operate on Metlink's Wairarapa Connection between Wellington and Masterton.

There are 12 SW, three SWS and three SWG carriages in three sets, of three to eight cars depending on the service, with the consist made up of an SWG, an SW, an SWS, and then the remaining SW cars. Some trains have luggage/generator van AG 222 to supplement or replace the SWG.

SW carriages have 64 seats in both alcove and airline-style arrangements with a single toilet at the north end (next to the A2 door), automatic doors and a public address system. SWS carriages have 37 seats (31 plus six that can be folded away to fit up to four wheelchairs), with a space for a servery (not used), a wheelchair hoist on each side, an audio induction loop system, and an accessible toilet. SWG carriages have 37 seats, a luggage compartment and a diesel generator to power the carriages.

They are in Metlink livery.

The interior of an SE carriage, formerly used on Metlink peak services in Wellington.

The SE (Suburban Express) type is similar to the SW, owned by the Greater Wellington Regional Council. They were brought into service as part of a number of temporary measures to increase capacity until arrival of the FP/FT class "Matangi" units in 2010–2012, with the intent that they may be eventually transferred to the Wairarapa Connection service.[3] They were operated as a single consist by Tranz Metro on peak express services top-and-tailed by EO class electric locomotives.

There are four SE, one SES and one SEG carriages, which received a less thorough rebuild than the SWs and retain their BR airline-style seating. The SES is accessible like SWS carriages but lacks the servery. In November 2011, they were taken out of service due to frequent faults of the run-down electric locomotives pulling them[4] and the availability of sufficient Matangi units to replace them.

In December 2012, it was announced that they would be reintroduced on the Wairarapa Connection to alleviate capacity issue and rolling stock constraints.[5] After minor modifications, the SE carriages would be introduced on the Wairarapa line in July 2013. They were criticised by train users for their smaller seat pitch, poor lighting, and lack of tray tables and power outlets.[6] This led Greater Wellington to make additional modifications to the carriages over Christmas 2013 by installing a number of tables and removing a row of seating to increase space between the seats.

They are in the Metlink livery of dark blue and grey, with lime green highlights.

Auckland suburban (retired)[edit]

Over 30 SA and SD coaches remained at Taumarunui at the end of 2019

SA (Suburban Auckland) Auckland Transport carriages were operated by Transdev Auckland in sets of three to five cars, with an SD car (see below) and a DC (four- and five-car total) or DFT/DFB (six-car total) diesel-electric locomotive in push-pull configuration. They have electronic double doors and have two types of bogie: re-used from 56-foot carriages, and new with air-cushion secondary suspension, nicknamed S-Ride bogies. They were in the MAXX livery of blue and grey. Diesel-hauled services were phased out starting in 2014 and entirely September 2015 replaced by AM class EMUs, then placed into storage in Taumarunui and sold into other uses.

The original push-pull train concept was initiated by Tranz Rail, and construction of the push-pull sets began in 2003 at Dunedin's the Hillside Workshops. The carriages were classified as SA and SD driving trailers. 104 carriages were converted. They were operated by Veolia Transport Auckland for Auckland Transport, branded with MAXX and powered by DC class locomotives classified DC or DCP and driven by Toll Rail and later KiwiRail locomotive engineers.

Auckland's SA set operations ceased in September 2015 after the electrification of the Auckland network. The 104 surplus SA/SD carriages were relocated to Taumarunui where unsuccessful attempts to sell them overseas fell through.

The 24 SD (Suburban Driving) Auckland Transport carriages have a driving cab to allow push-pull SA/SD trains, similar to British Rail Mark 2 Driving Brake Standard Open (DBSO) carriages, and diesel generators to power the carriages.

Besides the two different bogie types (x28020 and S-Ride), the SD fleet does not vary by much. However, SD 5624 and SD 5762, both being x28020 type vehicles, are fitted with park brake controls as their sets contain S-Ride type cars fitted with park brakes. Both of those SDs retain a conventional ratchet type handbrake. SD 5794 was fitted for several years with European Train Control System (ETCS) equipment, to test the system prior to full-scale introduction on board the AM class EMU. As at August 2014, this ETCS equipment has been removed, and the cab instruments reverted to the standard layout, and ETP installed. All SDs are now fitted with Electronic Train Protection (ETP) equipment. Retired from AT service September 2015, placed into storage, then sold for other uses.

As of 7 June 2019, the disposition of on-sold SA/SDs from Auckland Transport are:[7][8]

Three SD bodies were onsold by Mainline Steam for private use, minus bogies and generators, and are located at C&R Developments Ltd - a mining vehicle contractor and builder in Hannon Road, Hautapu, Cambridge in the North Island of New Zealand.

Te Huia Hamilton to Auckland commuter service[edit]

The new 80 minute Te Huia passenger service from Hamilton to Papakura Auckland will operate its first service on 3 August 2020, which will operate two return services on weekdays and one return service Saturdays. The Waikato Regional Council has established the commuter service using three refurbished SDs and seven SAs, which will be used on a twice daily Auckland-Hamilton service hauled by DFT locomotives.[10] From August 2020 150 passengers could be travelling from Hamilton to Papakura twice in the morning from 05:30-07:00 weekdays, stopping at Rotokauri and Huntly along the way. The service would take 91 minutes, including stoppage times at stations along the route.[11] The disposition of the eleven overhauled carriages are 5 x SR, 3 x SRC and 3 x SRV, plus two un-overhauled Auckland SA carriages held in reserve.[12][13] Namely Carriages SR 5847, SR 6061, SRC 5889 and SRV5893.[14]

Two trains made up of four carriages each will be used, each with capacity for 150 passengers. Carriages will be equipped with Wifi, air conditioning, heating, USB points, a cafe bar and toilets. The fare is $12.20 one way from Hamilton to Papakura. Trains will set off at Frankton, stopping at the new Rotokauri Transport Hub and Huntly station, before reaching Papakura.[15][16]

SR (Suburban Regional) are former Auckland SA carriages and will be operated on behalf of Waikato Regional Council and have been overhauled by KiwiRail for the Hamilton to Papakura service commencing in 2020.[12][13]

SRC (Suburban Regional Catering) are former Auckland SA carriages, now with a cafe, servery and wheelchair hoist and wheelchair help points. These will be operated by KiwiRail on behalf of Waikato Regional Council and have been overhauled for the Hamilton to Papakura service commencing in 2020.[12][13]

SRV (Suburban Regional Vehicle) driving carriages with generator sets, which are former Auckland SD driving carriages. These will be operated on behalf of Waikato Regional Council and have been overhauled by KiwiRail for the Hamilton to Papakura service commencing in 2020.[12][13]

Antipodean Explorer[edit]

During 2018, 31 SA and SD class formerly used in Auckland sets were purchased by Antipodean Explorer and transported from storage in Taumarunui to Dunedin by KiwiRail for refurbishment into a luxury train at the former Hillside Railway Workshops. Initially, 16 carriages arrived in early April 2018, with the balance to follow. Three SD carriages have been purchased for conversion to observation carriages with the SA as sleepers, restaurant, lounge, baggage and crew carriages. Antipodean Explorer has financial backing from Chinese company Fu Wah. The train is planned to be in service in 2020.[17]

KiwiRail overhauls[edit]

During early 2018, six former Auckland SA carriages were relocated by KiwiRail from Taumarunui to the Hutt Workshops in Wellington, three of which are for overhaul as additional luggage vans to be classified AKS for KiwiRail including the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine.[18][19] eight of the remaining carriages will be converted into a brand new SR class for KiwiRail on the Auckland-Hamilton service, Te Huia. there are expected to be two trains running the route with four carriages and a 147 passenger capacity.[13][20][21]

In March 2018 two SA carriages were overhauled and converted into luggage vans for KiwiRail.[20] This was later revised to three SA carriage conversions into AKS luggage vans of six SA carriages moved to Hutt Workshops.[19][21] The first of the new AKS luggage vans was photographed in the Great Journeys of New Zealand livery on the Hutt Workshops traverser[18] and is fitted with a crew compartment, improved catering provision storage, recycling storage facilities, luggage and cycle racks. AKS 5658 and 5926 are ready for service after trials in late 2019 and early 2020. AKS 5658 is waiting for new bogies.[14]

Mainline Steam Heritage Trust[edit]

In 1996, Mainline Steam Heritage Trust (MLST) principal Ian Welch bought 15 former Anglia Railways Mark 2 coaches with the intention of rebuilding them for MLST excursions. Seven cars were unloaded at the Port of Lyttelton for MLST's Christchurch depot at Middleton, the other eight at the Port of Auckland for MLST Auckland at the former Parnell Diesel Depot.

This move was initiated by concerns that Tranz Rail would no longer be able to offer carriages from its charter fleet, made up of the 56-foot carriages. Rather than fitting them with x-28020 high-speed bogies from scrapped FM guards' vans, they were to be fitted with x-27750 Kinki bogies from scrapped FS steam-heating vans built in the late 1960s. However, in 1997 Tranz Rail advised that the charter fleet would be available in future and Welch sold them to Tranz Rail, which moved them into storage at Hutt Workshops by the end of that year.

In 2007, the situation had changed with rail operator Toll Rail having moved the Auckland charter fleet carriages south to Wellington to replace more 56 foot carriages, which were being withdrawn so that their x-28020 bogies could be fitted to the SW cars being rebuilt at Hillside Workshops in Dunedin. With very few options available, Welch purchased ex Virgin Trains West Coast Mark 2F FO 3433 and TSOs 5915/5939/6419, arriving later that year at the Port of Auckland. They were trucked to the group's Wellington base, adjacent to Plimmerton railway station.

In 2008, Welch purchased four ex Virgin and five ex-Gatwick Express coaches from Angel Trains and Porterbrook, arriving at the port of Auckland in 2008 and trucked to Hutt Workshops for storage. This brought the total to 13 coaches, nine of which were in storage at Hutt.

The Virgin cars - Mark 2E FO 3299/3393, Mark 2F TSO 5914/5988 - were stored until MLST had space at Plimmerton, which was becoming increasingly pressured for secure storage space.

The Gatwick Mark 2F cars were:

Class 488/2 set 488209: TFOH 72508 (ex FO 3409), TSOH 72644 (ex TSO 6039)

Class 488/3 set 488313: TSOLH 72624 (ex TSO 5972), TSOLH 72625 (ex TSO 6085), TSOL 72172 (ex TSO 6091).

In 2009, rebuilding began with TSO 5939 as the template, 5915, 6149 and 3433 following in order. In 2011 FO 3299/3409 and TSO 5914/5988 were trucked to Plimmerton for rebuilding. As of 2012, work had begun on rebuilding 5914.

The work involves the following:

  • Removing the battery boxes and generator and replacement with connectors for head-end power, to be supplied from a 240kVa generator in rebuilt luggage/viewing van FM 3010
  • Replacement of brake components with a mixture of new and refurbished equipment
  • Fitting a retention toilet at one end (the cars had the straight-discharge toilets, which are no longer acceptable)
  • Refurbished interiors including a public address system and renewed electrical wiring
  • Fitting x-27750 Kinki bogies ex-FS steam-heat vans, of monocoque construction. Originally they were used without being altered, but they have now been rebuilt with new bogie bolsters welded in to replace the original castings. Other cars may be fitted with x-28020 bogies ex-FM guards' vans, similar to many of the S/SA/SD/SW cars.

They are painted Midnight Blue with a Pearl Grey roof (easier to clean than a white roof, as they will be steam-hauled) and a white window band. Four have been named after railway landmarks, famous sections of the line, and railway companies.

Like the S class, they retain their original external appearance with curved Corten-steel ends (the SA/SD/SW/SE cars have flat ends). Five cars are still in open storage at Hutt: Mark 2E FO 3393, and Mark 2F TSO 5972/6039/6085/6091. They will be overhauled at a later date when time, space and funding allow.

SD 5761 one of Ian Welch's original 15 Mark 2s from 1997 was purchased by Mainline Steam and arrived on 22 August 2018 at Plimmerton from storage in Taumarunui for conversion into an observation carriage for its Mark 2 rake of carriages.[21]


  1. ^ Intelligence Railway Gazette International December 1996 page 786
  2. ^ "Report 09-103: Passenger Train 1608, collision with slip and derailment, Tunnel 1, Wairarapa Line, Maymorn, 23 July 2009". Transport Accident Investigation Commission. September 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  3. ^ Hayes, Natasha (12 April 2010). "Submissions Report - Draft Wairarapa Corridor Plan" (PDF). Wellington: Greater Wellington Regional Council. p. 6. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  4. ^ Metlink (15 November 2011). "7.04am Hutt Valley train line service cancelled - 15 November 2011". Archived from the original on 31 December 2011.
  5. ^ "Metlink News issue 23, December 2012" (PDF). Greater Wellington Regional Council. December 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  6. ^ Fuller, Piers (31 July 2013). "Lack of leg space frustrates commuters". Wairarapa News (via Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Railfan". 25 (3). Triple M Publications. June 2019. ISSN 1173-2229. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Report: Auckland Council Papakura Local Board minutes - Auckland Transport Activities over the October - December 2018 Quarter" (PDF). Papakura Local Board. October–December 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Report: Auckland Council Papakura Local Board minutes - Auckland Transport Activities over the October - December 2018 Quarter" (PDF). Papakura Local Board. October–December 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  10. ^ "New Zealand Railway Observer" (No.351). October–November 2018. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Jason Dorday (2 November 2018). "Hamilton to Auckland Passenger Rail Service Takes Another Step Closer". Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d "New Zealand Railway Observer" (No.355). June–July 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ a b c d e "Hamilton - Auckland". KiwiRail. 2 July 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Railfan". Triple M Publications. Summer 2020. ISSN 1173-2229. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Ellen O'Dwyer· (12 March 2020). "Start date set in stone for Hamilton-Auckland passenger train". Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  16. ^ Natalie Akoorie (12 March 2020). "Hamilton to Auckland commuter train to begin in August, start date pushed back by coronavirus". NZME Publishing Limited. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  17. ^ "Carriage Work Hillside". Otago Daily Times. 5 April 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  18. ^ a b "old-nz-trains-brought-back-life". Maori Television. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Railfan". 24 (3). Triple M Publications. June 2018. ISSN 1173-2229. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ a b "Railfan". 24 (2). Triple M Publications. March 2018. ISSN 1173-2229. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ a b c "Railfan". 24 (3). Triple M Publications. September 2018. ISSN 1173-2229. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)