Old NZ trains brought back to life

By Kawe Roes
The first AKS support van is in its final stages of fitting-out when this photo was taken at KiwiRail's Hutt Workshop earlier this week.  

Three old Auckland Transport 'SA' carriages are being turned into ‘AKS’ support vans for KiwiRail in Wellington.

As passenger numbers on KiwiRail’s tourist train market 'Great Journeys of New Zealand' grow, larger vans are needed to carry more luggage and a bigger demand on larger items such as bikes. 

The new vans will have more space for separating and managing waste like recycling, helping the State-Owned Enterprise reach its goal of becoming a more sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism business.

The old Auckland Transport SA style carriages in storage in Taumarunui 2016. SOURCE / SUPPLIED.

But these British Railways Mark 2 type carriages started life back in England for use on high-speed Intercity trains before being shipped to New Zealand in the late 1990's for commuters and heritage tourists. 

A MK2 carriage in original condition from England being refurbished for heritage tourist train use out of Wellington. SOURCE / SUPPLIED

The new AKS will include a separate crew rest area, a first for the onboard crew, along with dedicated racks. A mechanical lift will make the job of lifting bags easier too for KiwiRail staff.

There will be extra space as well to store chilled food and liquor which will make for streamlined loading of onboard supplies.

The first van is expected to be available for crew familiarisation and training later this year and is expected to be ready for use in 2019.

The new vans will be slowly introduced on the Northern Explorer train first followed by the Coastal Pacific and TranzAlpine trains.

KiwiRail expects the vans to be in service for at least 20 years.

But the current used AKL vans will still be used as when required, supplementing the new AKS vans.

The old AKL which the AKS will replace where needed stared life back in the 1970's as guards van for New Zealand Railways.