KiwiRail is slashing the number of trips its Overlander train service takes between Auckland and Wellington.

The Overlander service currently runs daily services during summer and three days a week during winter.

A revamped tourism-focused service will cut the number of weekly trips between the cities from 14 to six, KiwiRail announced today.

The new six-day-a-week service will feature three trips departing from Auckland and three from Wellington, it said.


Passenger services general manager Deborah Hume said the changes were needed to modernise the Overlander service and keep it financially viable.

It would now be targeted at tourists rather than commuters, she said.

"The current Overlander service does not have a big tourist appeal and it's no longer being effectively used as a domestic point-to-point service between Wellington and Auckland. The future for long distance passenger train travel in New Zealand is now about creating an international-standard travel experience rather than simply getting people from one place to another."

Ms Hume said the new service would feature new scenic carriages, a viewing carriage, a new menu, new uniforms and a faster journey time.

It would highlight tourist attractions along the route between the two cities.

The Overlander train service has been running since 1991.

Former operators Toll tried to cut the service in 2006, but backed down in the face of strong public opposition.