After 74 years, English Electric trains retire
WEATHER, SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTER
Wellington's English Electric trains are going gracefully to retirement this afternoon.
The final English Electric passenger service will be marked by a short ceremony at Wellington Railway Station at 2pm before the public and invited guests board the train for the last return ride after 74 years of service.
Greater Wellington regional council chair Fran Wilde said the last passenger service - the 2.39pm from Melling to Wellington - was a significant event in the region's rail history.
''It's a time for us to celebrate both the sterling service that these 60-year-old trains have given to the region and the progress we have made with the modern, 21st century Matangi trains. There are now sufficient numbers of the new trains in service to enable us to let go of the old ones.''
A fleet of 35 new Matangi trains have now been approved for service and there are only three more still to leave the factory in South Korea.
The entire fleet of 48 trains (96 cars) is expected to be in service later this year.
One of the 35 English Electric cars is up for sale for $29,999 on Trade Me and more may be listed later on the internet auction site.
Negotiations are also under way with private companies, individuals and heritage societies for the remaining cars.
"We've had a few expressions of interest but we're still looking for a good home for one of the units that was fully refurbished a couple of years ago. So if anyone has some cash and would like to own a beautifully restored piece of rail history, we'd love to hear from you,'' Ms Wilde said.
English Electrics, named after their manufacturer, began running in Wellington in 1938 following the opening of the Tawa Flat deviation of the North Island Main Trunk line.
The fleet began with six two-car units and was expanded almost 10-fold in the early 1950s in preparation for suburban train services to Upper Hutt.
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