the Kingston Flyer
The Kingston Flyer is a vintage steam train operating in the South Island of New Zealand at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu. It uses 14 kilometers of preserved trackage that once formed a part of the Kingston Branch.
The name "Kingston Flyer" was originally applied to the express passenger trains that ran between Kingston and Gore, Invercargill, and less frequently, Dunedin. The services commenced in the 1890s, not long after the government acquired the Waimea Plains Railway and incorporated it into the national network. In October 1937, passenger services on the Kingston Branch ceased, resulting in the abbreviation of the Waimea Plains passenger services to a Lumsden-Gore service until it too ended, in September 1945. However, excursion trains from Gore and sometimes Dunedin through to Kingston continued to operate at peak holiday seasons until Easter 1957. For many years, these expresses and excursions operated in conjunction with steamers on Lake Wakatipu to provide the primary access to Queenstown.
In 1971, the New Zealand Railways Department announced that they were going to recommence operating a service named the Kingston Flyer as a heritage service. The last use of steam on a regularly scheduled revenue service in New Zealand was on 26 October 1971, and the new Kingston Flyer began operating two months later on 21 December. It utilised the whole length of the Kingston Branch between Invercargill and Kingston and proved wildly popular. From 1971 until 1979 it operated every summer through to the Easter holiday period, and carried over 30,000 people annually. However, flooding damage to the line between Lumsden and Garston meant that the last Invercargill to Kingston flyer ran on 17 April 1979 and the damaged section of track in question was formally closed in November of that year. For the next three years, the Kingston Flyer operated to other destinations, albeit less successfully.
In 1982, the Kingston Flyer returned to Kingston. The initial intention was to utilize the remaining 20 kilometers of track between Garston and Kingston, but the decision was made to end the line in Fairlight and the additional six kilometers to Garston were closed. Although the original Flyers had typically been operated by locomotives of the Rogers K and V classes, two AB class locomotives were used for the restored service that commenced in 1971, and they were both transferred to Kingston in 1982. They are 4-6-2 "Pacifics" built in New Zealand: * AB 778 (entered service in 1925)
* AB 795 (entered service in 1927 and once pulled the New Zealand Royal Train)
From 2000 until 2003, K 92, a preserved member of the Rogers K class that headed the original Flyers, was based in Kingston and operated services both by itself and together with the AB engines. The rolling stock used on the line consists of seven wooden passenger carriages that date as far back as 1898.
In November 2008 the operation was offered for sale at $3 million as a going concern.
The Kingston Flyer operates seven months of the year, from 1 October to 30 April. Two trains run daily, excluding Christmas Day. It is arguably New Zealand's most famous preserved train.
Text from Wikipedia
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