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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1 (May 1, 1930)

The “Rotorua Limited” — Fast “Limited” Service Instituted Between Auckland and Rotorua

page 9

The “Rotorua Limited”
Fast “Limited” Service Instituted Between Auckland and Rotorua.

Two entirely new trains of cars and vans which incorporate the most modern luxury features, were completed at the Otahuhu Railway Workshops last month for the Auckland-Rotorua services, and put into commission on 5th May. It is anticipated that the introduction of these trains (which are timed to do the 171 mile run in about six hours) will do much to popularise rail travel between Auckland and New Zealand's thermal wonderland.

Two New Luxurious Trains

In reference to the new Auckland-Rotorua services, the Hon. W. B. Taverner, Minister of Railways, made an important statement indicating that special efforts have been made to popularise the train service between Auckland and Rotorua, by providing an exceptionally attractive through train service, running on a fast schedule and equipped with the most modern arrangements, including lounge cars with observation ends.

“This matter has been thoroughly investigated by the General Manager of Railways and his executive officers,” said Mr. Taverner, “and I had no hesitation in concluding from the information available that a ‘Limited’ express service was essential on the Auckland-Rotorua run.

“In order to provide this it has been found necessary to eliminate certain of the stops now made by the Rotorua expresses. By doing so we are able to introduce a ‘Limited’ train in both directions which will leave each terminal at 10.10 a.m., arriving at Auckland at 4 p.m., and at Rotorua at 4.15 p.m.—approximately six hours on the run in either direction.

Fewer Stops on Journey.

“As the passenger business by the Rotorua express trains is essentially a long distance traffic, catering largely for tourists travelling between Auckland and Rotorua—the latter admittedly the principal tourist centre of the Dominion—it has been decided to stop the train on the outward journey only at Newmarket (which is practically a city stop), Pukekohe, Frankton Junction, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Matamata and Putaruru. The stops that are being cut out under the foregoing are Mercer, Tirau, Mamakau, Ngongotaha; the conditional stops at Walton, Waharoa, Hinuera, Okoroire, Ngatira and Tarukenga are also being eliminated. Thus the maximum number of stops will be seven instead of seventeen.

“Owing to the run from Auckland to Frankton Junction now requiring only 2 hours 29 minutes, the Mercer stop, which was previously made for refreshments, is considered to be no longer necessary. The stations eliminated from the new Auckland-Rotorua Limited service are served by other trains, particularly by the 9 a.m. Bay of Plenty express from Auckland and the Frankton to Rotorua local train, the latter being timed to leave Frankton for Rotorua only 26 minutes after the departure of the Rotorua Limited express from Frankton. The local train will act as a ‘set-down’ train following the ‘Limited.’

“The ‘Limited’ from Rotorua for Auckland will leave Rotorua at 10.10 a.m. instead of the present time of 9 a.m., thus giving passengers more time after breakfast to catch the train: and it will arrive in Auckland at 4 p.m.

“One the run in both directions provision is made for a mid-day meal at the Frankton Junction railway refreshment rooms.

“The ‘Rotorua-Auckland Limited’ will stop at the same stations as the ‘Auckland-Rotorua Limited,’ namely, at Putaruru, Matamata, Morrinsville, Hamilton, Frankton Junction, Pukekohe, and Newmarket. A local train, which will run ahead of this ‘Limited’ to Frankton, will pick up passengers and deal with the local traffic much as under the arrangement now operating, except that it is timed to leave Rotorua much later than at present, and its running time is being substantially shortened. Thus it will leave Rotorua at 7.15 a.m. instead of 6 a.m., and arrive at Frankton as at present, namely, 12.10 p.m.

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“From Frankton to Auckland, stops previously made by the Rotorua-Auckland express, which the ‘Rotorua Limited’ will omit, are Ngaruawahia, Huntly, Mercer, Tuakau and Papakura. All these stations will be reasonably served by the Bay of Plenty express from Taneatua, which will leave Frankton Junction at 3.24 p.m., and reach Auckland at 6.30 p.m., as at present.

The Classic Train of the Dominion.

“I think that the public,” concluded Mr. Taverner, “will appreciate the fact that the time has arrived when the institution of ‘Limited’ expresses on the Rotorua line is fully warranted. A de luxe train, giving rapid transport, is justified by the fact that Rotorua is world-renowned, and consequently the train which serves it should be the classic train of the Dominion. Moreover, with the rising standard of demand as regards passenger services, it is no longer possible to make the same trains cater both for through long distance traffic and local traffic, as has hitherto been attempted by the Rotorua expresses—especially between Frankton and Rotorua.

Replete With Every Comfort for the Traveller. (Rly. Publicity photo.) The exterior of the Observation Car on the new “Auckland-Rotorua Limited Express.”

Replete With Every Comfort for the Traveller.
(Rly. Publicity photo.)
The exterior of the Observation Car on the new “Auckland-Rotorua Limited Express.”

“Steps have been taken to make the Rotorua services worthy of the Dominion, and I think that the new ‘Rotorua Limiteds,’ with their thoroughly modern cars, equipped with observation compartments and the other modern improvements, and timed on a fast schedule, will do much to advertise the Dominion and create a favourable impression amongst visitors from overseas as well as among our own people, regarding the quality of service the railways of this country can supply. We have endeavoured to do this, not by sacrificing the local traffic, but by speeding up the through train and putting on trains for the local traffic acting by way of feeder trains to the ‘Limited’ expresses that will give the local residents quite a reasonable service.

“It is in order to provide a train service equal to the most exacting modern demands that the ‘Rotorua Limiteds' are being inaugurated, and that so much care and attention has been devoted to the building of suitable vehicles and the provision of other train requirements.

“A great deal of attention has been paid to the time at which these trains should leave and arrive, and I think that the arrangements now made are in every sense suitable, and consequently I have no hesitation in commending them to the people of the Dominion. The present intention is to commence running these ‘Limited’ expresses as from the 5th May, 1930.”

Description of Trains.

In the new trains are incorporated the very latest practice in railway carriage construction. page 11 Many of the old features of New Zealand carriages have completely disappeared. The windows are of plate glass and are of the balance type, opening from the top to the bottom, like those in a motor car, and they are frameless. Vestibules have been fitted to all cars, thus securing, by an enclosed space, a more complete connection between the carriages, and eliminating the familiar open platform at the ends of the cars.

Seating Accommodation.

Each first-class car has been fitted with a coupé to accommodate six passengers. Special attention has been given to the seating, which will be considerably more comfortable than the existing type. Being reversible, these seats have three positions, namely, day, semi-lounge, and total recline. They have all been so arranged in the car as to give, from the seat, a clear view through the related window. All the cars have been fitted with atmospheric steam heaters, and generous facilities for electric light and fans. The whole of the water—160 gallons—is carried below the underframe, and is raised by air pressure.

Sheathed with Enamel Plates.

Each car is sheathed with enamel plates, so that no painting is required, and surfaces can be easily cleaned by a sponge and hose. The colour of both trains is Midland Lake red. For the first time in New Zealand automatic couplers will be used.

At the end of each train is a specially constructed and generously equipped observation car. This has windows 3ft. 6in. in width, and a rounded glass end. It is furnished with lounge chairs.

Many improvements are also being embodied in the second-class cars.

An Attractive and Restful Drawing Room on Wheels. The interior of the Observation Car on the new “Auckland-Rotorua Limited Express.”

An Attractive and Restful Drawing Room on Wheels.
The interior of the Observation Car on the new “Auckland-Rotorua Limited Express.”

(Rly. Publicity photo.)

“A Social Atmosphere.”

Speaking of the institution of the new Rotorua service when it was decided to build the trains, the General Manager, Mr. H. H. Sterling, said that it would “help the Department to compete successfully with road services that had come into the field recently over routes served by rail. We will be able to make the trip more interesting and convenient to through passengers than it could be by road. Where the density of traffic warrants it,” he said, “observation and coupé cars certainly can supply opportunities for either work or entertainment, that road services cannot provide. Music, reading, private business, discussions, or secretarial work are among the things that the new daylight passenger train rolling stock will make possible to travellers. With this we hope to build up a social atmosphere on our trains that better equipment, increased facilities for recreation, and higher standards of comfort will encourage.”