KiwiRail’s Coastal Scenic Carriages Start


Some good news for Christchurch for a change.

KiwiRail’s new scenic carriages have entered service on the Coastal Pacific service between Christchurch and Picton.

A completed set of two new passenger carriages, a café car, a viewing car and refurbished luggage will be in service on the Coastal Pacific for the coming months, before being introduced with extra passenger carriages and another café car on the TranzAlpine next year.

The whole fleet (once they’re running on both the Coastal Pacific and the TranzAlpine) will consist of 17 carriages.

KiwiRail’s General Manager Passenger Services, Dr Deborah Hume, and Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism’s Business Development Manager, Caroline Blanchfield, joined KiwiRail staff at Addington Station this morning to welcome passengers on board the new carriages.

The new purpose-built scenic carriages feature 52 square metres of glass in panoramic side and roof windows, ceiling mounted HD screens, and GPS triggered commentary in a choice of five languages. They are the first carriages to be entirely designed and built in New Zealand since 1941.

This was called Tranz Scenic.

Coastal Pacific is second time around - it’s the name the train was known as from late 1980s until ‘TranzRail’ rebranded the name to TranzCoastal in 1997 to fit their own corporate identity.

KiwiRail’s Chief Executive Jim Quinn says the intention of the name change is to give the Coastal service a lift and an identity of its own, so it can come out of the shadow of the better known TranzAlpine service.

COASTAL PACIFIC; Inside the new carriages

Dr Hume said she was very excited to be introducing the new carriages to passengers, alongside a new menu and new staff uniform.

“We want to ensure a totally unique experience for our passengers. Our focus with these new carriages is on providing a more modern, sophisticated customer experience that people will remember and return to.

“We are also excited about what these new carriages could mean for tourism in Canterbury and Marlborough,” Dr Hume says.

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism has applauded the initiative as a milestone for South Island tourism.

“It’s a great news story for tourism in our region. The stunning scenery along our coastline is a huge drawcard for visitors and the new stylish carriages and service will ensure the Coastal Pacific’s reputation as one the world’s great train journeys,” Ms Blanchfield says.

“Our passenger services are heading into their busiest season and these changes add up to a fantastic showcase for KiwiRail’s South Island passenger services,” says Dr Hume.






  1. Antz says:

    I have seen the outside of the TranzSenic Carriages as well. Looks absolutely wonderful, It is nice to actually have a sleek looking passenger train in the South Island once again.

    I just wish we could bring the Southerner back again, When I was a tot, I used to live next to the line and wave to the passengers every time it went past. :)

  2. diego says:

    thanks for your posting Jon, from the picture they look very nice, clean cut and comfortable. Hopefully one day we will see them on the Overlander too.

  3. Publius says:

    Can we please get a refurbishment of the overlander carriages. No power jacks for laptops on a 12 hour journey is insane in 2011.

    And while i’m wishing, can we have an overnight sleeper train between Auckland-Wellington. A 12 hour journey is best when you’re asleep. :)

  4. Scott says:

    Rotating seats?

  5. Geoff says:

    Well done Steven Joyce, brand new kiwi-built passenger carriages, and an investment in passenger rail in New Zealand.

    Oh wait, am I misusing his name? Which situation do we credit him with again? KR decisions we like, or KR decisions we don’t like?

    But seriously, well done to all those behind the creation of these carriages. They look awesome.

  6. Cam says:

    Yes Geoff you are right this changes everything. I take it all back Stephen Joyce is pro rail because he let Tranz Scenic replace some of their old carriages. Well said.

  7. Jon C says:

    @Cam It’s Steven.

  8. 1 says:

    Besides I thought the new carriages were planned under Labour anyway.

  9. James says:

    Now if only ever future train carriage could be build in NZ! But wow dont they look nice!

  10. Geoff says:

    More may yet be built, but KR want to sell 49% of Tranz Scenic first, so the new partner can help pay for them.

  11. Jon R says:

    Yes, Labour confirmed they would have new carriages before elected out. Like so many other of Steven Joyce´s projects, they were planned under Labour and followed up afterwards by Joyce.

    Joyce in this term has not made any significant new proposals for passenger rail. His National Party is completely against Waikato Commuter rail.

    Time to vote, time to vote for better transport alternatives to roads.

  12. Geoff says:

    The AK carriages were actually neither a Labour nor a National project. It’s amazing how some people can’t get their head around that rail projects are not planned by government.

    There was a tentative proposal for a number of years to refurbish MkII cars for Tranz Scenic, but funding did not eventuate (and Labour was the government of the day). The project was eventually dumped and replaced by the AK project, then funding granted (under National).

  13. Jon R says:

    “The project was eventually dumped and replaced by the AK project” AFTER LABOUR bought back Kiwirail (would have been the perfect finish to Geoff´s sentence.

  14. Geoff says:

    Jon R, the new carriage project only got off the ground AFTER funding had been secured in March 2009. Prior to that, it had no funding.

  15. Cam says:

    Are there any new carriages scheduled for the Overlander?

  16. Jon R says:

    No Cam, there is nothing in the budget for the Overlander, dispite it performing the best in percentage growth rates for the past few years.

  17. Kris says:

    Funding of $53 million was approved for the new carriages 3 trains - The Alpine, Coastal Pacific & the Overlander.

    The first train to use the carriages was going to be the Alpine for summer 2011/2012 period followed by the Coastal Pacific & lastly the Overlander.

    It seems the Coastal Pacific is the first train to get them, next the Alpine but no word on the Overlander carriages.

    So where has the funds gone for the Overlander carriages?

    Does anybody know?

    This information was given to me by Tranz Scenic.

  18. max says:

    “how some people can’t get their head around that rail projects are not planned by government.”

    Is is amazing that some people can’t get their head around the fact that the money man calls the tune, and that KiwiRail is a SOE.

  19. Geoff says:

    @Cam, the Overlander carriages were refurbished in 2007, so they are in better condition than the South Island carriages, and not due for replacement until a later date. KiwiRail indicated earlier this year that they plan to build more AK’s for the Overlander once they have a passenger-orientated business partner on board.

    @Kris, no, the funding did not include the Overlander. Funding was approved for the AK project, for the railcar refurbishments, and a repaint of the Capital Connection.

    @Max, no, the “money man” does not dictate what projects KiwiRail can or can’t embark upon. KiwiRail does not require government approval for individual projects, unless very significant in nature. They are being given $750m (and a lot more in reinvestment funds) to spend on any project they believe will grow the business. It’s up to them to plan and implement those projects.

  20. max says:

    “@Max, no, the “money man” does not dictate what projects KiwiRail can or can’t embark upon.”

    Keep thinking that, if it improves your outlook on life.

    Of course Steven Joyce doesn’t micro-manage KiwiRail (he’d like to, probably, but he doesn’t have the time). But don’t think for a second that they would have gotten any money if their proposed investment plan hadn’t met his approval.

    They do NOT have free reign to spend the money where they want.

  21. Geoff says:

    Max, you presumably credit 80 new locos, 3000 new wagons, growing railfreight traffic, growing staff levels, and all the hundreds of multi-million dollar infrastructure upgrades with Steven Joyce? That’s very generous if you do!

  22. Giel says:

    Geoff I learned a while ago that you will never convince the anti Steven Joyce brigade on this website and others like it . They prefer to project their frustrations onto individuals that are apparently anti their belief system in order to try and rationalize what is reality. Very much like the conspiracy theories on things like JFK or 911 - if fulfills a need to “blame” someone real for something they feel is not rational in their view. It fulfills an age old need for a archetypal person to blame. In the past individuals such as former Minster of Transport, Peter Gordon or Dr Beeching, restructuring master of British Rail suffered a similar populous thrashing that ignored the reality of the world
    we live in. There are many people at play in Rails investments decisions from analysts to government officials to lobbyists to companies management to customers to directors to politicians to media pressure to regional councils etc etc. The decisions are way more complex and involve way more people as I know you know than what Steven Joyce thinks or wants . Go figure guys.

  23. Geoff says:

    I think you’re right about that Giel.

    Interestingly, was just reading some 2008 reports, and see that Dr Cullen promised (if Labour was re-elected) $120m to KiwiRail, and warned that further amounts of up to $1b total may be required over five years.

    National on the other hand, promised $750m, with up to $4.6b total over ten years.

    It would seem National listened to the many people in play over rail investment, more than Labour did. I suspect if Labour had been re-elected in 2008, we would have had a scaled back version of the Turnaround Plan.

    It’s not really about pro or anti-rail, it’s about who understands the needs of big business more, and is prepared to fund those needs - Labour or National?

  24. Giel says:

    II agree with you. History teaches us a lot about true intentions of political parties - here is some history.

    The National Government in the 1950′s largely completed electrification of the Wellington Network - built new lines (Hutt valley), Rimutaka tunnel and deviation. The Labour Government in late 1950′s Government did nothing but promise a Nelson Railway that was a red herring. The National Government in 1960′s dieselised and modernised NZ Railways with World Bank loans and equity injections into NZ Railways, introduced Interisland Rail ferries making a National network for the first time and committed to major projects like the Kaimai Tunnel deviation. The Labour Government in early 1970′s did nothing but stall and defer investment decisions which lead to the eventual killing off the provincial railcar services and put price freezes on freight tariffs that saw NZ Railways significantly financially deteriorate in the 1972 to 1975 period. The National Government 1975 to 1984 extended Wellington electrification, bought new Ganz Mavags and electrified the NIMT. The Labour Government 1984 to 1990 made 15,000 railwaymen and woman redundant and downsized network operations significantly and considered closing the whole network down. The National government in the 1990′s encouraged Tranz Rail to invest and expand services which it did successfully until 1999. The Labour Government from 1999 undermined Tranz Rail – helped send it into the ground with its hostile approach and oversaw its near bankruptcy. It wouldn’t support any long distance passenger services and sanctioned the closure of the Southerner (Jim Anderton and MED 2002) and supported/suggested closure of the Overlander in 2006 which Toll decided to support from their own coffers despite them. Then Labour in the final tem had a change of heart and bought back KiwiRail and reluctantly committed to significant expansion of the Metros network but the real big investment money has always been when National was the Government. So yes Labour did do some real stuff for Rail from about 2004 onwards - so its not without redemption but please don’t think they are a political panacea for Rail.

    The $690 Million purchase ex Toll NZ by the Labour Government was hardly an investment but an ideologically driven decision. National would have likely invested in a PPP or something similar with Toll NZ – thus saving that $690 of Millions for real investment in Rail. Meanwhile National has committed Billions to Rails future since coming to power in 2008.

    Labour need to take a long hard look at their track record on Rail. With a few notable exceptions its record is not as good as Nationals. I think a true analysis will show that National has always done more for Rail than Labour in terms of investment and attempts to create a viable network – but I don’t expect that many here will agree as we don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

  25. max says:

    “Very much like the conspiracy theories on things like JFK or 911″

    Contrary to the JFK conspiracies, I can point to the MoT website (i.e. the official documents there) itself for my dislike of Steven Joyce, or more precisely, his policies. Heck, he signs the introduction to many of them.

    If you need to tell yourself that Steven “isn’t that bad” by comparing him to other people that could / were / might be as bad in their policies, that’s a very human thing to do, but doesn’t help with the fact that Joyce is at the reigns right now, and clearly thinks PT and rail are to be fobbed off wherever he can, and milked for as much greenwash PR wherever he can’t.

  26. Geoff says:

    Max, how do you reconcile the current large investment in KiwiRail with “fobbed off wherever he can”?

    Perhaps $4.6b for rail is not enough in your eyes, but it’s more than four times the amount Labour was planning to spend on KiwiRaill, had it been re-elected in 2008.


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