Overlander A Success Story


The Overlander has resumed services after a Christmas break because of the rail works taking place and the first day has been a sellout.

Every seat Auckland and Wellington was sold for its first day.

KiwiRail says the Overlander has been growing steadily in popularity in the last 2 years, with a 24% annual growth last year. It was threatened with closure in 2006, which shows that cancelling train services such as this is so short-sighted.




  1. Paul in Sydney says:

    I believe Feilding Steam Rail will be back for another season of fortnightly steam hauled services.

  2. ingolfson says:

    Taking the Overlander was fun. But it also drove home the bad state of the NZ network - during the four trips I took (two two-way trips) in 2005, two or three had parts of it going on buses, because there were line problems or derailments. Great to see it’s flourishing.

  3. Ian M says:

    If its a sell out then they should add another carriage…

  4. Nick R says:

    Ian, the Overlander is about as big as it can get while still fitting into Britomart. Perhaps if this sort of growth continutes the could look at running a second train on the busy days, say an hour later or something.

  5. Simon says:

    I say bring back the Northerner overnight service - maybe as a summer and school holiday trial first and if successful it can be expanded later. Even if it was a Fri-Sun only service I think it would be worth it.

  6. Donald Neal says:

    You can’t use the same train to provide an overnight service when the day trip takes nearly twelve hours.

    Which brings us back to the state of the track. Possibly by this time also to the age of the rolling stock.

    I wonder how many passengers are needed to persuade someone to pay for new trainsets?

  7. ingolfson says:

    Donald, I suspect LOTS. Maybe refurbishing heritage carriages (or just “old” carriages) makes more sense in the current financial climate for rail.

    Re the Northerner - if the service is done as a transport function rather than a tourist function (which an overnighter more or less would be - no views) I think it is pretty unlikely to work as well. 12 hours, or 10 hours, just isn’t that competitive with planes - and not sure if they could match the bus ticket prices for the budget traveller crowed. Maybe once the fuel prices go up further?

  8. Finn says:

    I agree with Simon, I reckon they should bring back the Northerner but make it an express like the so-called ‘Pukekohe Express,’ and make it stop at: Britomart, Middlemore, Hamilton, Taumarunui, Taihape, Palmerston Nth, & Wellington instead of also stopping at Te Kuiti, Pukekohe, etc.
    They should restore & renovate some of the carriages and make them with a room taking up a most of the room that they will have for space, and on the other KiwiRail should make it like a hall.

  9. Finn says:

    Everybody will get confused reading my last comment :)

  10. Nick R says:

    An overnight sleeper would work perfectly at around 12 hours each way… but that would require a new suite of sleeper cars.

  11. Matt says:

    Nick, so long as the most-basic seats were still suitable for sleeping in (the Northerner’s seats were pretty awful, and there was only one standard), and the fare was comparable to a mid-level hotel, it would probably suit business travellers. Work, eat, sleep, shower, breakfast, step off the train for your business day without having to get up at stupid-o’clock to make a flight that’ll have you arriving at the same time.

  12. Paul in Sydney says:

    Don’t forget all the work that will happen and is happening (e.g. North South Junction, Wellington) on the NIMT will speed up the journey time of the Overlander.

    I’ve heard mutterings about a Marton bye pass – can anyone add light to that?

    Just getting the Overlander back to daily running would be a good step forward

    An Express service is not a great idea, If you want speed drive or fly. When the trains are doing 160km then an express service might be a good idea. A modern DMU would do nicely.

  13. Nick R says:

    Matt, I doubt anything involving sleeping in a chair would appeal to buisiness travellers (backpackers maybe…). Although if they went with something as confortable as an Air NZ lie flat buisiness class seat/bed it might work.

  14. Why not just have two classes? Economy and premium. Economy could be a slighter better version of the Overlander seats at a slightly higher price, and premium a basic lie flat (maybe sideways?) seat at say 2 or 3 times the price.

  15. marsoe says:

    European intercities tend to have seats/6berth/4berth/2berth sleepers, and pricing to match.

    The Overlander-Overnighter could do seats/4berth/2berth. There must be some cheap sleepers around.

    If the price is cheaper than or similar to a flight+room, then it would be pretty attractive. Add in wifi (or at least 3G along the route), and it would be a great service.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>