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More tender loving care is in store for two English Electric trains, bought and fully refurbished by Greater Wellington Regional Council several years ago, when they move into the hands of their rail heritage owners.
The bright red Phoenix train was rescued from the scrap yard and together with the Cyclops was fully restored about five years ago to help meet increasing demand from Wellington commuters until the new Matangi trains arrived. The two trains were used largely on the Hutt Valley line.
Wellington’s fleet of 37 English Electric cars was retired last June, 74 years after the first English Electrics began running in the region. One of the trains was sold via Trade Me and is now at its new home in Nelson. Another was sold to a private individual and two cars have been donated to the NZ Fire Service and the NZ Defence Force.
Peter Glensor, Chair of the Regional Council’s Economic Wellbeing Committee, which is responsible for public transport, says most of the remaining fleet has been sold for scrap. “But we wanted these two celebrity red trains that were so lovingly restored to go to good homes.”
The Phoenix is bound for the National Railway Museum Project alongside the Ferrymead Railway at the Ferrymead Historic Park in Christchurch.
The Cyclops train has been secured by the Wellington Heritage Multiple Unit Preservation Trust (WHMUPT) and will be based at the Rimutaka Incline Railway Heritage Trust site at Maymorn, north of Upper Hutt.
Bryce Pender, spokesperson for the Preservation Trust, says the trust does not plan for the Cyclops to remain idle. “We really want it to be up and running but that will cost, so we’re keen to start fundraising as soon as possible to make this happen.”
Peter Glensor says he’s pleased one of the trains will remain in the Wellington region. “Wellington has a rich rail heritage. Keeping one of these marvellous old trains in the region helps that heritage remain visible and tangible. I’m really pleased that we could help the Multiple Unit Preservation Trust achieve this.”