NZ - Museum-piece all ready to roll

Diesel and Electric motive power and operations in Australia and New Zealand.
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John Ashworth
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NZ - Museum-piece all ready to roll

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Museum-piece all ready to roll
KERRY WILLIAMSON - The Dominion Post | Saturday, 06 September 2008

For two decades it sat in a museum, a relic from times long past, on show to people interested in seeing what riding the rails used to be like.

But in a few weeks, the old English Electric train will return to the rails for the first time in 23 years to ease pressure on the Hutt Valley line.

The former resident of Canterbury's Ferrymead Museum will be joined by two other refurbished trains that Greater Wellington regional council hopes will meet demand till new trains begin arriving in 2010.

It is not quite a return to steam, but it is a slip back in time.

"These trains have been refurbished thoroughly and immaculately and will help meet increasing demand for many of our peak-hour train services," the regional council's transport and access committee chairman, Peter Glensor, said.

The "last thing he would want to see" would be for the pre-loved trains to be vandalised, but he was confident that KiwiRail's policies would mean they were respected by commuters.

The first relic to hit the rails, a two-unit English Electric train, was built in 1949 - Peter Fraser was Prime Minister, the world was still recovering from World War II and television hadn't arrived in New Zealand.

The motor car entered service in 1951, and the trailer two years later.

The unit carried its last passengers in Wellington in 1985 and spent two decades at Ferrymead before its recall. It can seat 120 passengers and has total capacity for 248.

It will be primarily used as back-up during peak hours. The regional council spent $1.1 million refurbishing the old trains.

Mr Glensor said the return of the old trains "should be seen as a necessary interim step till the long-term solution is implemented."

Part of that solution is a fleet of 70 electric trains being built in Korea. They will be brought into service from 2010, at a cost of $210 million.
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