July 25th, 2006


The end of the line.

Bloody hell, what's happening to the state of the railways in New Zealand these days? They've gone and cancelled the Overlander, the daytime express between Wellington and Auckland, effective as of the end of September. Now the only long-distance passenger services in New Zealand are the services from Christchurch to Greymouth and Picton, and the glorified commuter services from Palmerston North and Masterton to Wellington.

This is outrageous. I was saddened when they cancelled the Bay Express. It was disappointing the see the demise of the Kaimai and Geyserland Expresses. I was stunned when they canned the Northerner. And cancelling the Southerner was nothing short of a capital crime; that iconic train should be subsidised by the government no matter how much of a loss it runs at because it's the frigging Southerner, people! And now the Overlander is gone. Seriously, what the hell? What clowns are in charge of this, and how has it happened? I remember, six years ago, I thought it appalling enough that expresses no longer ran to New Plymouth, Gisborne, and Whangarei. Now they'll even be absent from the North Island Main Trunk! (Except the Wellington to Palmerston North part, but like I said, that's essentially a glorified commuter service rather than an intercity express.)

The worst thing that can happen to a country in peacetime is the destruction of its railway network. At least New Zealand's freight trains are still on track (pardon the pun) - well, for now. I don't see why all of this isn't run by the government not-for-profit anyway. The way I see it, it's an essential national service and it doesn't matter if it runs at a loss. Of course, if money weren't poured into the bottomless sewer of road funding and were instead spent on improving rail, it would probably be more competitive and make a tidy profit anyway. But politicians ... well, need I say any more? Headless chooks, the whole damn lot of them.

This is a farce. Bring back the days of NZR and passenger services to everywhere.