Next stop Africa for Capital's well-used trains

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 03/03/2014

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Thirty-four of Wellington's decommissioned Hungarian-built commuter trains, which collectively carried about 76.5 million Wellington passengers along 45.9m kilometres of track, have left for a new life in Africa.

Built in 1982, the Hungarian-made Ganz Mavag cars made their way on the back of trucks from storage at the Woburn railway workshop to CentrePort where they were loaded on to an African-bound ship.

Some looked the worse for wear, missing windows and covered in graffiti.

The old Ganz Mavags were replaced by the Korean-built Matangi units.

The Ganz Mavags were bought by a rolling stock broker in South Africa who will convert them into locomotive-hauled carriages to be used in Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Greater Wellington Regional Council bought the old trains for about $1 off Kiwirail in 2011 as part of the Wellington Metropolitan Rail Agreement.

Council rail operation manager Angus Gabara said there had been " a few interested parties" looking at shipping them to African countries.

"If we could not find a suitable buyer they would have been scrapped."

The fleet of 44 Ganz Mavag, 2-car units originally cost $33m. At the time it was the largest single order of rolling stock in the history of the New Zealand Railways.

The cost was partially offset by a barter agreement involving the Hungarian Government buying New Zealand dairy products, chiefly butter.

When the next fleet of Matangi trains arrives in Wellington from mid-2015, all but one of the remaining Ganz Mavags will go to Africa. Because of this, Gabara would not reveal the sale price of the 34 cars that have already left our shores.

One Ganz Mavag unit of two cars will be retained by the council for heritage purposes.

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- The Dominion Post

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