South Island Limited

South Island Limited

South Island Limited

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The South Island Limited was a passenger express train operated by the New Zealand Railways Department between 1949 and 1970. It operated between Christchurch and Invercargill via Dunedin, and in its heyday, it was New Zealand's premier express.

Previous expresses

Expresses between Christchurch and Dunedin began operating as soon as the Main South Line was opened. These services, the precursor to the South Island Limited, were the flagship of New Zealand's railways in the nineteenth century, and accordingly had the most modern motive power and rolling stock available. They were initially hauled by members of the first J class and limited to a speed of 60km/h, resulting in a journey time of eleven hours, but they were sped up with the introduction of the Rogers K class. The K locomotives could achieve speeds of up to 90km/h and they helped to quicken the schedule, with the T class handling the train on the hilly section between Oamaru and Dunedin. Upon their introduction in 1885, the N class took on the express duties, followed by the U and U<sup>B</sup> classes, and then the Q and A class Pacifics cut the journey's time to eight hours in the early years of the twentieth century.

In 1904, it became possible to operate an express all the way from Christchurch to Invercargill in a single day. The Dunedin-Invercargill run was treated as an extension of the Christchurch-Dunedin express, and the train was sometimes called the Invercargill Express. In March...
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