Overlander (train)

Overlander (train)

{{Infobox rail line |logo = Tranz_scenic_logo.PNG |name = Overlander |color = |image = EF30163+Overlander_NearWaiouru_22March2003_JChristianson.jpg |image_width = 250px |caption = The Overlander hauled by an EF class electric locomotive near Waiouru |start = Wellington |end = Auckland |stations = |type = Inter-city rail |system = |owner = Tranz Scenic |operator = Tranz Scenic |stock = NZR 56-foot Carriages
DC Class Diesel Locomotives
EF class Electric Locomotives |linelength = |map = |} |}} |}

The Overlander is a long-distance rail passenger train between Auckland and Wellington in the North Island of New Zealand, along the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT). It is operated by Tranz Scenic.

It replaced a previous service operated by RM class Silver Fern railcars on Monday December 2, 1991. Following the withdrawal of the overnight Northerner, it is the only regular passenger train on the NIMT between Pukekohe and Palmerston North.

It has been called one of the best-value scenic rail trips in the world by the British Guardian.




The first regular daylight Wellington-Auckland passenger train services, augmenting the older overnight services, were the steam-hauled Daylight Limited and diesel-hauled Scenic Daylight that ran primarily during summer months and Easter holiday period for many years from the 1920s onwards. The arrival of the Blue Streak and later Silver Fern railcars saw an end for a time to regular carriage trains, except when the Silver Fern railcars were replaced by carriage trains.

Proposed cessation (2006)

On 25 July 2006 it was announced that the service would be withdrawn at the end of September as it had made a loss for some time. The last trains were scheduled to run on Saturday 30 September 2006.

On 18 August 2006 the Green Party announced a Save the Overlander campaign, which received a positive response, primarily from the small towns along the train's route.

On 28 September 2006, three days before the service was due to end, Toll announced that it would continue on a schedule reduced from daily year-round to Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in the off-peak winter season, and daily in the peak summer and Easter period.

New life (2006-)

The Overlander's reprieve has seen an interim refurbishment programme implemented, both internally and externally. Externally, the three former Bay Express cars and seven existing Overlander cars retain the Cato blue paint scheme of the Tranz Rail era, but with the new "Overlander" promotional logo introduced by Toll Rail on the sides in large white letters. Also, structural repair work has been carried out. Internally, the cars have been tidied up and seats replaced or reupholstered in some cars, new carpet laid in others.

In 2008, the train is again close to capacity in usage of its just over 160 seats, and it has been mooted that daily services may be reestablished. After the New Zealand government re-purchased the rail services in 2008 and renamed them KiwiRail, a rail upgrade budget was also announced that included funds for refurbishing the trains.

Centennial (2008)

On 6 August 2008, at 9am the 100 year old carriage AA1013 is scheduled to depart Wellington in a re-enactment of the original 7 August 1908 Parliamentary Special carrying the Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward to Auckland. It will carry a Prime Minister, overnight in Taihape, before continuing on to Taumarunui and then Auckland. Ticket are expected to be issued by "invitation only". The carriage was restored by Mainline Steam trust.

Rolling Stock

Originally the service was operated with six Northerner cars (originally single lavatory first class cars, later designated South Island Main Trunk first class cars, refurbished for the original Southerner expresses of 1970), the Bay Express servery/observation/rear-view car, and what was once both The Connoisseur car and TranzAlpine rear-view/observation car and the two Northerner modular handbrake end-mounted 11kW generator power-luggage vans, painted in the dark blue InterCity logo with a 220 mm white stripe sandwiching a 100 mm red band, minus the parcels traffic. In December 1991 another modular van was refitted with a generator, and a Wairarapa Connection car with 32 seats to a newer design arranged alcove-style and a servery to facilitate the introduction of a third trainset for maintenance requirements, the third set thus becoming a spare.

Extra Carriages

The former Vice-Regal (Governor-General) car turned Southerner full buffet car was refitted in 1993 and returned to the NIMT with 24 seats to a newer design arranged alcove style and a short buffet counter to replace the full-length counter and 20 bar stools.

A new "no frills" fare was introduced, using the remaining six Northerner cars, a Southerner car and two Auckland excursion cars between 1995 and 2002. With the cancellation of the Bay Express in 2001, the three panorama cars from that train were utilised as a fourth set for the NIMT.


From December 1991 to December 1994, nine 56-ft ex second class passenger coaches built between 1937 and 1945 (one the former TranzAlpine rear-view observation car, one a Southerner car, two from Auckland excursion, three from Auckland suburban and two from Wairarapa commuter services) were extensively refurbished similar to the successful "big window" panorama cars used on the TranzAlpine, Coastal Pacific and pressure-ventilated Bay Express cars and made into three 3-car/1-van sets for "new" Overlander/Northerner services, each including a coach with a servery bar where hot food, snacks and beverages can be bought during the trip, a rear view observation car and a 49-seat day car. All nine cars were fully air-conditioned.


Three modular vans, one from the Telecom train, one from the Sesqui 1990 and one from the Bay Express trains were refitted to newer designs, all incorporating new-style 90 kW generators for increased on-train requirements, as power-luggage vans. An Auckland suburban van, the other of two Bay Express vans and the second of two Northerner vans were similarly refitted to serve this train.

Double duty

As the Overlander and Northerner shared rolling stock, substantially better carriage utilisation was achieved, compared to having two train sets sitting unused for over 12 hours a day.

On Wednesday August 16, 2006, the first air-conditioned 42-seat rear-view Northerner/Overlander car and its air-conditioned 49-seat day car running mate, were taken to Hutt Workshops and stored, their bogies went under the ex-British Rail cars for the Wairarapa Connection.

Former passenger stops

Between Pukekohe and Hamilton

Between Hamilton and Otorohanga

Between Tamarunui and National Park - pre 1980s/Overlander

Between Ohakune and Marton

  • Waiouru - the highest station on the line (discontinued April 2005)
  • Taihape - previously had a dining room, and engines were changed (discontinued April 2005)

Between Levin and Wellington

  • Otaki (discontinued April 2005)
  • Waikanae (discontinued April 2005)
  • Porirua - southbound trains stop, northbound trains no longer stop (date unknown)


External links

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