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Wellington’s old trains may be destined for Africa

Jun 29th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

A FLEET of 35 English Electric trains retired by the Greater Wellington Regional Council on Monday could soon be shipped to Africa.

A mystery buyer from South Africa was in the city last week, saying he would be making an offer for as many of the trains as he could get to ship them back for on-sale to Ghana.

The man, who gave his first name as Geoff, said if the sale went ahead he would strip the electrics and heaters out of the trains and sell them as rolling stock to be pulled by diesel locomotives.

The train owners, Greater Wellington Regional Council, have declined to confirm or deny such a deal is in the offing, saying it is commercially sensitive.

The English Electrics were retired on Monday, after 74 years of service in the Wellington area.

It is believed that negotiations had begun with two private firms, individuals and heritage societies looking to buy about 20 of the 35-strong fleet.

One of the 35 English Electrics is for sale for $29,999 on Trade Me.

Geoff said some of the trains were covered down one side by graffiti after someone had tagged on them where they are kept in Lower Hutt, however the council told him they would not be cleaning them up before sale.

“They told me they were selling them for the scrap value, so the council spending any more money on them was out of the question.”

He would arrange for the graffiti to be cleaned off by a crew in South Africa.

Geoff said if the deal came off he was interested in buying more of the Wellington train fleet, including the Ganz Mavag electric trains still in service, and the KiwiRail-owned Capital Connection if that service was scrapped.

Prue Lamason, Greater Wellington Regional Councillor and chair of Greater Wellington Rail Limited, the council-owned company that owns the trains has previously expressed their willingness to hear to all offers.  

“In Russia, for example, trains have been converted into Orthodox Christian churches, so the possibilities are limited only by people’s imagination – and how much land and cash they’ve got.”

The Greater Wellington Regional Council spent $235 million on a replacement fleet of 48 Korean-made, two-car electric trains, the first of which began service in Wellington in March of last year.

There are now only six trains yet to arrive in New Zealand, with the entire fleet expected to be in service by the end of this year.

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