South Island Limited

Last updated

The South Island Limited
Overview
Service typeExpress
StatusCancelled
First service1949
Last serviceTuesday, 1 December 1970
Successor Southerner
Former operator(s) New Zealand Railways Department (NZR)
Route
Start Christchurch
End Invercargill
Line(s) used Main South Line
Technical
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)

The South Island Limited was a passenger express train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) between 1949 and 1970. It operated over the almost 590 kilometres (370 mi) route between Christchurch and Invercargill. It was replaced by the Southerner.

Contents

Previous expresses

Expresses between Christchurch and Dunedin began operating as soon as the Main South Line was opened. These services were the precursor to the South Island Limited and were the flagship of New Zealand's railways in the nineteenth century. Accordingly they had the most modern motive power and rolling stock available. They were initially hauled by members of the first J class and limited to a speed of 60km/h, resulting in a journey time of eleven hours, but the timetable was accelerated with the introduction of the Rogers K class. The K locomotives could achieve speeds of up to 90km/h and they helped to quicken the schedule, with the T class handling the train on the hilly section between Oamaru and Dunedin. Upon their introduction in 1885, the N class took on the express duties, followed by the U and UB classes. The Q and A class Pacifics cut the journey's time to eight hours in the early years of the twentieth century.

In 1904, it became possible to operate an express all the way from Christchurch to Invercargill in a single day. The Dunedin-Invercargill run was treated as an extension of the Christchurch-Dunedin express, and the train was sometimes called the Invercargill Express. In March 1914, it was possible to travel from Christchurch to Invercargill in thirteen hours. AB class locomotives capable of speeds of 107km/h took over from the A and Q locomotives from 1915, but in the 1930s and in wartime, maximum SIMT speed was limited to 80km/h and track and running conditions did not allow the acceleration of the late 1940s when the express, at its zenith, reached sustained higher speeds on the Canterbury Plains and became the South Island Limited.

A night express service, including two Sleeping carriages, ran from 1928. [1] The four sleepers for the service were rebuilt at Addington from ordinary cars, each with an 8-berth compartment for ladies, and a 12-berth for men. [2] The sleeping cars had gone by 1935 [3] and by 1943 the only night trains were on Sundays. [4] From 1949 to 30 September 1979 trains 189/190 ran an overnight weekend express Christchurch-Dunedin departing at a late 10.30/10.50pm on Friday-Sunday to arrive 6.30/6.58am on Saturday and Monday. Until 1971 the steam-hauled train consisted of a 56-foot second class carriage, sleeping carriage and two 50-foot first-class carriages. The diesel hauled 189/190 of 1971-79 consists excluded sleeping carriages again and usually consisted of sets of only a partitioned 56ft first-class and two 56ft second class carriages, guards van and 7 container and mail wagons. Only the connecting part of 190 leaving Invercargill at 6:35pm was ever well patronised with sports team and weekend varsity students. In its last years, 1976-79 189/190 was second class only but did provide a connection for Dunedin students and Otago Peninsular residents on the new Christchurch-Picton Ferry express, providing a low cost, but poorly patronised interisland connection, with patronage given at 10-93 (average 50) in July 1979. [5] [ better source needed ]

Operation

In 1939, the second J class was introduced, followed by the JA class in 1946. These locomotives allowed the service's schedule to be accelerated, and in 1949, the South Island Limited was introduced. It operated three days a week and had fewer stops than the expresses, which continued to operate on all other days. The 1949-1956 South Island Limited really was a 'limited' with only five intermediate stops to Dunedin and 10 to Invercargill with stops at Ashburton, Timaru, Studholme, Oamaru, Palmerston, Dunedin, Milton, Balclutha, Clinton and Gore on the way to Invercargill.

In its very early days, it was occasionally operated by AB class engines, but the more powerful J and JA locomotives quickly became the usual motive power, and they were famous for hauling long strings of the familiar red cars at higher average speeds, achieving a travel time between Christchurch and Dunedin of 7 hours and 9 minutes, and completing the entire journey to Invercargill in 11 hours 20 minutes. [6] From 1956, consolidation of the daylight schedule into one express each way, resulted into an increase to 21 stops, but only 20 minutes added to the overall running table, Departure from Christchurch at 8:40am and arrival at Invercargill at 8:20pm. By this time the timetable allowed for general 55mph running on the Canterbury and Southland plains. The north run of the South Island Limited, train 144 to connect with the Inter-Island Ferry leaving Invercargill at 7:40am to arrive at Christchurch at 7:20am for a snack, before 144 moved on to Lyttleton with adequate time to connect with the inter-island ferry leaving Lyttelton at 8:30pm, generally required timekeeping and the performance of the JA class hauled expresses if 20 minutes or more late out of Timaru with the 100 miles to Christchurch and 6-7 scheduled stops sometimes covered in 130 minutes [7] [ better source needed ]

In the immediate post-war years and until 1956, the general aim of two daylight expresses daily in both directions on the SIMT continued with the South Island Limited being supplemented on the peak demand days of Mon, Wed, Fri by a second stopping express, trains 160/175, which also provided an early morning departure from Dunedin, at 8.45am in the 1935 and 1952 timetables [8] on the Dunedin express to Christchurch and southbound following the 'Limited' out of Christchurch at midday in the 1920s and 30s and postwar at 9.00am south [9] to arrive at Dunedin at 5.25pm, two hours later than the South Island Limited.

However, train 160 and 175 continued to run as a relief holiday express until 1966 and these services were reincarnated as pure mail and express freight trains from 1970 to 1985 on essentially the same 1949 timetable, leaving Christchurch (Middleton) and Dunedin at 9.00am for arrival at 5.00pm, but stopping only at Timaru and Oamaru for half an hour for shunting. Cut off for the first night express freight would be 6.30pm and the train would not leave Moorehouse station until 7:00pm. [10] [ better source needed ]

The original consist of the South Island Limited was three first and four second class carriages providing 330 seats overall [11] with a capacity of over 500 in the school holidays. By the late 1960s, the holiday-peak traffic had eroded and the usual consist for most of the year was two first and two second class smoker and non-smoker carriages [12] providing 176 seats. The main traffic for the South Island Limited was as a long-distance service to connect with the inter-island Union Steamship Company Steamer Express ferry at Lyttelton and to carry mail, with up to six ZP class wagons for maximum revenue. [13]

Replacement

By 1970, steam locomotives had been almost entirely withdrawn from New Zealand. The North Island had been completely dieselised by the end of 1967, and the 1968 introduction of the DJ class diesel locomotives had led to the dieselisation of almost all of the South Island's services.

However, the South Island Limited continued to operate with steam motive power, repeating the pattern in the North Island (where the KA and JAs hauled the express and relief expresses until 1965, nine to ten years after steam had been replaced on NIMT freight and the Wairarapa line by 1955–56).

In the last years of the South Island Limited, intermediate stops were increased to 21 but overall journey time reduced to 11 hrs 40 minutes. The decision was finally taken to withdraw railcars and end the use of steam locomotives in 1967, with the order for the final nine DJ diesel-electric locomotives to replace the JAs on SIMT expresses and express freights, on 26 November 1967. [14]

The South Island Limited was replaced by the diesel-hauled Southerner on 1 December 1970. This was not the end of the steam expresses, however; JA locomotives continued to work Friday and Sunday evening expresses on the same route for almost a year.

Related Research Articles

Railway preservation in New Zealand

Railway preservation in New Zealand is the preservation of historically significant facets of New Zealand's rail transport history. The earliest recorded preservation attempt took place in 1925, although the movement itself did not start properly until 1960.

Rail transport in New Zealand Conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks in New Zealand

Rail transport in New Zealand is an integral part of New Zealand's transport network, with a nationwide network of 4,128 km (2,565 mi) of track linking most major cities in the North and South Islands, connected by inter-island rail and road ferries. Rail transport in New Zealand has a particular focus on bulk freight exports and imports, with 19 million net tonnes moved by rail annually, with 99.5% of New Zealand's exports and imports being transported through the country's seaports.

Kingston Flyer

The Kingston Flyer is a vintage steam train in the South Island of New Zealand at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu. It used 14 kilometres of preserved track that once formed a part of the Kingston Branch. Originally, Kingston Flyer was a passenger express train between Kingston, Gore, Invercargill, and less frequently, Dunedin. It was operated by the New Zealand Railways (NZR) from the 1890s to 1957. In 1971, NZR revitalised the service as a tourist venture, later leasing the locomotives and rolling stock in 1982 to a private company. Since then, the Kingston Flyer has been through a number of owners, most recently being owned by the Kingston Flyer Ltd. The company intends on restarting operations in Summer 2020.

South Island Main Trunk Railway

The Main North Line between Picton and Christchurch and the Main South Line between Lyttelton and Invercargill, running down the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, are sometimes together referred-to collectively as the South Island Main Trunk Railway (SIMT). Construction of a line running the length of the east coast began in the 1860s and was completed all the way from Picton to Invercargill in 1945; the last sections being on the Main North Line south of Picton. But the designation "South Island Main Trunk" originally referred to only that line between Christchurch and Invercargill.

Main South Line

The Main South Line, sometimes referred to as part of the South Island Main Trunk Railway, is a railway line that runs north and south from Lyttelton in New Zealand through Christchurch and along the east coast of the South Island to Invercargill via Dunedin. It is one of the most important railway lines in New Zealand and was one of the first to be built, with construction commencing in the 1860s. At Christchurch it connects with the Main North Line to Picton, the other part of the South Island Main Trunk.

NZR K class (1877)

The NZR K class of 1877 was the first example of American-built locomotives to be used on New Zealand's rail network. Their success coloured locomotive development in New Zealand until the end of steam.

The Plains Vintage Railway & Historical Museum

The Plains Vintage Railway & Historical Museum is a heritage railway and recreated historic village located inside the Tinwald Domain, Tinwald, New Zealand. The railway operates on approximately three kilometres of rural railway line that once formed part of the Mount Somers Branch. The entire village site and the railway are open regularly to the public, the railway operation utilises preserved and restored locomotives and rolling stock once used on New Zealand's national railway network while the village allows people to see how life was lived in New Zealand's pioneering past.

New Zealand DJ class locomotive

The New Zealand DJ class locomotive is a type of diesel-electric locomotive in service on the New Zealand rail network. The class were built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and introduced from 1968 to 1969 for the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) with a modernisation loan from the World Bank to replace steam locomotives in the South Island, where all of the class members worked most of their lives. Nine of the locomotives remain in use, mainly with Dunedin Railways.

The Southerner was a passenger express train in New Zealand's South Island between Christchurch and Invercargill along the South Island Main Trunk, that ran from 1970 to 2002. It was one of the premier passenger trains in New Zealand and its existence made Invercargill the southernmost passenger station in the world.

The New Zealand Railways Department, NZR or NZGR and often known as the "Railways", was a government department charged with owning and maintaining New Zealand's railway infrastructure and operating the railway system. The Department was created in 1880 and was corporatised on 1 April 1982 into the New Zealand Railways Corporation. Originally, railway construction and operation took place under the auspices of the former provincial governments and some private railways, before all of the provincial operations came under the central Public Works Department. The role of operating the rail network was subsequently separated from that of the network's construction. From 1895 to 1993 there was a responsible Minister, the Minister of Railways. He was often also the Minister of Public Works.

NZR RM class (88 seater)

The NZR RM class 88-seaters were a class of railcar used in New Zealand. New Zealand Government Railways (NZR) classed them RM , the notation used for all railcars, numbering the 35 sets from RM100 to RM134. They were the most numerous railcars in NZR service, and were known unofficially as "Articulated", "Eighty Eights", "Twinsets", "Drewrys" or "Fiats". Their purchase and introduction saw the demise of steam-hauled provincial passenger trains and mixed trains.

NZR J<sup>A</sup> class

The NZR JA class were a type of 4-8-2 steam locomotive used on the New Zealand railway network. The class was built in two batches, the first batch was built at Dunedin's Hillside Workshops between 1946 and 1956 and the second batch by the North British Locomotive Works in 1951. To distinguish between the batches, locomotives are identified by their maker.

NZR J class (1939)

The NZR J class steam locomotives were a type of 4-8-2 steam locomotive built for the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) and used on the New Zealand railway network. Built by the North British Locomotive Works, although designed to work on the lighter secondary lines the class was frequently used on mainline express passenger trains as well as freight. The class first appeared in distinctive streamlining, which was later removed from 1947 onwards for maintenance reasons. The class should not be confused with the earlier 1874 J class. Three J class lasted until the end of steam-hauled services on 26 October 1971, three locomotives of the forty built have been preserved.

The Picton Express was a passenger express train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) between Christchurch and Picton. It ran from December 1945 until February 1956, and was thus the shortest-lived provincial express in New Zealand. Following the end of railcar services in 1976, a new carriage train between Christchurch and Picton began, under the same name as the earlier service, until it was replaced in 1988 by the Coastal Pacific Express.

The New Plymouth Express was a passenger express train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) between Wellington and New Plymouth. It ran from 1886 until 1955 and was sometimes known as the New Plymouth Mail due to the Railway Travelling Post Office carriages included in its consist. The Express was notable amongst NZR's provincial expresses as being both the first and, until the commencement of the Gisborne Express in 1942, the longest in distance travelled.

The New Plymouth Night Express was a passenger express train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) that ran between Auckland and New Plymouth. It ran in various forms from 1933 until 1983, though the Express designation was lost in 1956 and later incarnations did not operate at night and terminated in Taumarunui rather than Auckland. The New Plymouth Night Express should not be confused with the New Plymouth Express that operated between New Plymouth and Wellington.

The Wairarapa Mail was a passenger train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department (NZR) between Wellington and Woodville, continuing on to Palmerston North as a mixed train. It ran from 1909 until 1948 and its route included the famous and arduous Rimutaka Incline.

Lyttelton Line

Lyttelton Line is a name sometimes used to refer to the section of the Main South Line in New Zealand's South Island between Lyttelton and Christchurch, and can also be used to refer to the operations on this section. As it has always been part of the Main South Line, this name has never been officially used to refer to the track itself.

NZ Rail 150 was a celebration of 150 years of Rail transport in New Zealand, held in 2013, 150 years since the first public railway opened at Ferrymead in Christchurch.

References

  1. "THE NIGHT EXPRESS. (Press, 1928-06-14)". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  2. "Popular Innovation – Night Expresses in South Island – The First Trains: The New Zealand Railways Magazine". nzetc.victoria.ac.nz. 2 July 1928. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  3. "RAILWAY SLEEPING CARRIAGES (Press, 1935-11-28)". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  4. "RAILWAY TIME-TABLE (Press, 1943-04-28)". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  5. NZPD 11/7/79, Questions by Caygill(Lab-St Albans) and Holland (Nat-llam) to Acting Min or Railways and 30 on 14/9/1979,NZPD Question J. Kirk(Lab, Sydenham)
  6. J.D. Mahoney.'Kings of the Iron Road'. Dunmore. Palmerston North (1982),p127.
  7. NZRO & I. Johnstone. 'Total Steam',. DVD
  8. Mahoney. Kings of the Iron Road
  9. T.A. McGavin (ed) South Island Working Timetable Dec 1952. NZLRS (1979) Wellington
  10. E.McQueen, NZR Mgmt 1980
  11. J. Mahoney, Kings of the Iron Road (1982)p 128-9
  12. Mahoney.(1982)p128-9
  13. Ibid, p129
  14. New Zealand Treasury and World Bank Correspondence, (inc internal/external and informal notes, 1967) and 27-11-67. NZR Acting GM to International Bank of Reconstruction (World Bank), inc tabulated, details of drawing WB loan re DJ purchases. DJ Purchase files National Archives, Wgtn.