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The evening railcars lasted a few years longer, but the age of the Vulcan railcars was becoming increasingly obvious and the service was canceled in April 1976 without replacement.After 1979, the Southerner was the only long-distance passenger service on the Main South Line.
For this reason, when locomotive drivers hit the relatively flat, straight track of the Canterbury Plains approaching Christchurch, they would seek to run as fast as possible and try to make up as much lost time as they could.In the mid 20th century these expresses were augmented by evening railcars between Christchurch and Dunedin.In the days of steam-hauled expresses, one particular part of the Main South Line gained an element of fame.In the 1980s NZR Addington Workshops designed a new seat and these had proved successful in Picton/Greymouth cars, so the Southerner cars received these seats also, increasing seating capacity from 29 or 33 to 45 or 50 per car.Once new seats were installed, one 45-seat car with staff compartment and one 50-seat car without were sent to the North Island for use on the two Gisborne Expresses.A pressure-ventilated former composite first class (14 seats) and second class (28 seats) car and the only 56-ft car to serve in a Vice Regal capacity for a Governor-General as a kitchen carriage for the 1934-built North Island Vice Regal car (hence the unique design) were rebuilt as full buffet cars, incorporating full length counters and 20 stools.
In 1973, a former double-toilet (later designated a North Island Main Trunk Railway first class car) was rebuilt as a third buffet car.
The Southerner was a passenger express train in New Zealand's South Island between Christchurch and Invercargill via Dunedin along the Main South Line that ran from Tuesday, 1 December 1970 to Sunday, 10 February 2002.
It was one of the premier passenger trains in New Zealand and its existence made Invercargill the southernmost passenger station in the world.
In their place on the Southerner were two 32-seat Endeavour cars.
With delays in the overhaul and refurbishment of all the Inter City Rail stock, the Southerner suffered most.
Two cars retained their "coupe" compartment for train staff, one car for each train, and one car in each train retained their compartments for hostesses.