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The Final Journey

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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.

Footnote:

The carraiges 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 to Picton.

Both trains 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.

 


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