Saturday, July 1, 2017

TransAlpine Express

Okay.  Not so much of an Express train.  It makes a few stops.  It takes nearly five hours to cover 150 miles.  It's top speed is 62 mph.


it goes right through the New Zealand Alps, along gorges, through tunnels, over huge bridges.  It's one of the best scenic train rides in the world.

The train consist of fairly new, home-built equipment.  The train had several coaches that had big windows and roof skylights, a cafe car, an open air sightseeing car and a baggage car.  It was pulled by a pair of 2300 hp locomotives (with a US pedigree) on 3' 6" "Cape Gauge" track, the standard for New Zealand.

In the station.  Unfortunately, camera doesn't have pole filter!

Sightseeing car

A coach

Inside.  Monitors track train's route and alert you to audio commentary

We didn't have the greatest weather, but we still had a great ride.  All along the way, there is audio commentary available on headphones to tell you what you are seeing, how the railroad was built and the history of the area.

After rolling along the flat leaving Christchurch, the train headed into the hill along the Wiamakariri River.

Lots of company in the sightseer car

Heading up hill.

Wiamakariri River

The railroad runs along the canyon wall

One of many tunnels on the route

The cloud ceiling was disappointing, but there was plenty to see under the clouds.

Still following the Wiamakariri

Top of the grade

Four locomotives tie onto the rear to help with braking in the summit tunnel.

Departing.  Across the river and into the tunnel.

Down hill after the summit

Rolling along valley floor

The route is ringed by the New Zealand Alps.
They were clearly visible going down the west slope as the clouds lifted

New Zealand is covered with pastureland.

Clouds notwithstanding, this was a top notch train ride over the roof of the New Zealand Alps.

Next up, Franz Josef and Fox Valley glaciers.


  1. Been there, done that! I worked and/or lived in Australia for nearly 10 years. I had several opportunities to travel New Zealand, where I enjoyed numerous train rides, including the one described in your blog.

  2. Interesting photos, Don.Just a small correction, the 4 locos are just hitching a ride back down the tunnel, the passenger train has plenty of brakes. They would have banked a loaded coal train up the tunnel, because of ventilation there is a limit on the number of trains , so going on the back of the passenger train saves a slot. regards, David Benton, (aka Solar,on Trainsmag).


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