MARCH 2007


THE TRANZALPINE TRAIN AT ARTHURS PASS - SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND

 

Reckoned to be one of the 'Great Railway Journeys in the World' the TranzAlpine train travels
daily between Christchurch on the East coast of the South Island of New Zealand to Greymouth
on the West Coast.

The 16 coach train travels across an expansive patchwork of Canterbury Plains farmland, winds
through the spectacular gorges of the Waimakariri river and climbs the mighty Southern Alps
where it pauses at Arthurs Pass for a photo opportunity. It then descends through lush native
beech forest, stopping in the West Coast town of Greymouth just in time for lunch. The return
journey, sets off an hour later on it's way back to Christchurch and, if you swap sides, you'll
 enjoy the view of the landscape from a different perspective.

On the return journey, prior to Arthurs Pass at Otira, the train stops briefly to attach a
further 3 (banking) engines, in addition to the existing 2 engines, making 5 in total. The
additional motive power is needed for the climb through the 8.6 kilometre Otira tunnel, a
journey which takes approximately 15 minutes. This tunnel took 15 years to build (completed
September 1921) and after starting at each end they were only three quarters of an inch out
when they met in the middle.

The picture above shows the train stopped at Arthurs Pass on the return part of the journey waiting for clearance to proceed along the steep climb through the Otira tunnel. Three extra
engines were attached at Otira, making a total of five engines, to assist passage through the
1 in 33 tunnel and also to retain the booked timings.

 
 

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