The Southerner ran for the final time
on Sunday February 10th 2002. This day was a sad day for many, and a day for
many people to bring back memories of their trips on the Southerner Express.
Invercargill Railway Station was the
busiest it had been for a long time on the morning of February 10th, with people
from all over the city coming to see the Southerner leave for the last time.
There was a trumpet player people looking over the train and the locomotive and
of course the line of photographers.
At 8:30am, to the sound of a lone piper
and 5 minutes late the Southerner departed for the last time, running over
detonators placed on the track by Invercargill's Tranz Rail staff. On this, the
last day of operation the train would be stopping at every stop on the line
between Invercargill and Dunedin including Edendale, Mataura, Gore, Balclutha,
Milton and Mosgiel.
When the train was approaching Dunedin,
Train Attendent Bev led the passengers in a Rendition of Now is the Hour, while
on the return journey Passengers were led by Bev and Invercargill Mayor Tim
Shadbolt in Auld Lang Syne and Morningtown Ride. The atmosphere on the train
throughout the Journey was a real Party atmosphere. All passengers who travelled
on the day received a piece of fruit cake and chocolates.
The train once again stopped at every
station south of Dunedin, and at every station the Platforms were crowded with
people. Children were allowed to look in the locomotive cab and photographers
chased the train for the final time.
At 6:20pm, only 1 hour late train 0902,
the Southerner Express pulled into Invercargill for the final time to the sound
of a lone bagpiper. The passengers on the train, and those chasing the train by
road had a fantastic day. Long may the Southerner live in the hearts and minds
of those work worked, rode and played onboard.
that ran to Invercargill returned to Christchurch on a freight train the
following day and now run on the Tranz Alpine to Greymouth and the Tranz Coastal
for the final day comprised of two carriages and a guards van due to carriage
availbility and were booked solid. When the Southerner pulled into Christchuch
some passengers were even standing as there were no seats left.