News: Final stop for Kiwi trains

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The Independent Travel

Low-cost aviation has claimed another victim: the overnight train service between the two main cities on New Zealand's North Island. A railway era was due to end this morning, with the last journey of The Northerner between Auckland and the capital, Wellington. The closure has happened at short notice; the operator, Trans Scenic (00 64 495 077; www.tranzscenic.co.nz), says: "All passengers currently booked on this service are currently being contacted and offered alternative arrangements."

Low-cost aviation has claimed another victim: the overnight train service between the two main cities on New Zealand's North Island. A railway era was due to end this morning, with the last journey of The Northerner between Auckland and the capital, Wellington. The closure has happened at short notice; the operator, Trans Scenic (00 64 495 077; www.tranzscenic.co.nz), says: "All passengers currently booked on this service are currently being contacted and offered alternative arrangements."

In the past three years, aviation has been transformed within and between New Zealand and Australia. The national carrier, Air New Zealand, faces intense competition from Qantas and Pacific Blue. As in Britain in the 1990s, air fares have fallen dramatically; a typical one-way trip between Auckland and Wellington typically costs NZ$90 (£34).

The line between Auckland and Wellington will stay open for passengers, with The Overlander daytime service continuing - though with a journey time of nearly 12 hours, its days may be numbered. Commuter services for Auckland will remain in place, as will the Capital Connection, a once-a-day weekday service between Palmerston North and Wellington.

This is the latest in blow for rail services on New Zealand's North Island. Peter Bass, editor of the Thomas Cook Overseas Timetable, says: "Five years ago you could have caught trains to Napier, Rotorua and Tauranga."

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