Though the Glenbrook Vintage Railway (GVR) was founded in 1970, our story starts in 1914 with the construction of the Waiuku Branch Railway.
The Glenbrook Vintage Railway Charitable Trust Board was established by railway enthusiasts (many of which were working for New Zealand Railways at the time) to preserve, rebuild, and operate the old Waiuku Branch Railway between Glenbrook and Waiuku. Over the years, this bunch of passionate volunteers fundraised to acquire locomotives and carriages from around the country, as well as cutting back the gorse that had overgrown the railway line using machetes. The fully working railway that is the Glenbrook Vintage Railway you see today is a testament to the vision, dedication, and hard work of these founding members. The mission of the Glenbrook Vintage Railway is not only to maintain and operate our heritage trains over our historic railway line and beyond, but to keep alive and share the skills, stories, and history of the railways that built New Zealand.
|1922||The Waiuku Branch Railway officially opened between Paerata and Waiuku.|
|1948||New Zealand Railways withdraw passenger services on the Waiuku Branch Railway.|
|1967||The Waiuku Branch Railway is closed between Glenbrook and Waiuku.|
|1970||The Glenbrook Vintage Railway Charitable Trust Board is formed.|
|1970s||Restoration of GVR’s inaugural fleet of steam locomotives and carriages begins.|
Reclaiming the railway corridor from nature begins.
Creation of the Glenbrook Station heritage precinct begins.
|1977||The Glenbrook Vintage Railway is officially opened for the 4.5km of track between Glenbrook and Pukeoware.|
|1985||GVR restored steam locomotive Ja1250 (along with Ka945) haul the first steam train on the national network since steam trains were banned by NZR.|
|1986||A track extension of 1.5km is opened by the then Prime Minister Rt. Hon. David Lange between Pukeoware and Fernleigh.|
|1995||A track extension of 2km to Tamakae Reserve - the heart of Waiuku is announced.|
The inaugural Thomas the Tank Engine weekend is held at Glenbrook.
|1999||Earthworks begin on the first stage of the track extension towards Waiuku.|
|2000||The Pukeoware Rail Depot North Yard is fully commissioned including a two track carriage workshop, undercover storage for 15 carriages and 7 new sidings.|
|2002||GVR celebrates its Silver Jubilee with a Festival of Steam featuring many visiting steam powered and other heritage vehicles.|
|2007||GVR celebrates carriage of its one millionth passenger.|
|2010||A track extension of 1.5km between Fernleigh and Victoria Ave (walking distance from and on the doorstep of Waiuku) is opened.|
|2017||GVR appoints a part-time employee to assist in steam locomotive restoration.|
NZTA grants GVR a license to operate trains on the national rail network after a significant refresh of key safety documentation and systems.
GVR purchases two DBR class diesel-electric locomotives from KiwiRail.
GVR appoints the first full-time employed General Manager.
GVR wins the 2019 NZTA Tourist and Heritage Rail Safety Award.
|2020||GVR begins work on restoring DC 4818 and continues restoration work on steam locomotive Ww 644, power van AG 49, carriages A1897 and A1918 and exploratory work on restoring steam locomotive Ja 1250.|
Our Railway runs over 7.5km between Glenbrook (our connection with the national rail network) and Victoria Ave (Waiuku). There are three level crossings, at Morley Road, Pukeoware Road, and Cornwall Road. The total trackage including sidings, crossing loops, and yards is 10.2km. Intermediate stations include Pukeoware (our main workshop and storage facility) and Fernleigh. There is also a platform at Morley Road.
Significant railway infrastructure includes the turntable at Glenbrook, which is capable of turning a Ja class locomotive. The station at Glenbrook is signalled by lower-quadrant semaphore signals, controlled from the restored Auckland ‘B’ signal box at the end of the Glenbrook Platform. Water towers for steam locomotives are provided at Glenbrook, Waitangi Stream, and Pukeoware.
At Pukeoware there is a mechanical workshop and amenities building, a carriage and wagon workshop, and three carriage storage sheds. The mechanical workshop includes a wheel-drop pit and large wheel lathe, which allows the Glenbrook Vintage Railway to ‘turn’ or reshape wheel treads both for our own vehicles, and for other heritage groups.
The Glenbrook Vintage Railway Fleet includes 87 rail vehicles, with 22 externally owned vehicles being cared for. This fleet includes seven steam locomotives, eight diesel locomotives and 32 carriages. Currently, one steam locomotive is in operation, with four diesel locomotives and 17 carriages also in operation. Our oldest vehicle is a six-wheel hand crane from 1878, with our newest vehicle a guard’s van from 1981.
One of our diesel locomotives and seven of our carriages are currently certified to operate on the New Zealand national rail network with our own onboard crew.
Over 80 passionate people, of all ages, and from all different background volunteer at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. This includes train operating crew, special event helpers, cafe and giftshop crew and the workshop and track volunteers. These volunteers are given the opportunity at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway to volunteer alongside people with similar interests, working on and around beautifully restored locomotives and carriages and to pass on and learn valuable skills, knowledge, and history.
A core group of four paid staff support and coordinate these volunteers, working beside them and taking care of the more specialised and arduous tasks associated with running a full sized heritage railway in a modern regulatory environment. These four staff all started as volunteers at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway and bring both their passion for the railway and specialised trade, rail industry, and engineering skills and experience. The recent expansion of the Glenbrook Vintage Railway's operations including the launch of rail tours on the national rail network and the growth of events such as the popular Counties Power - Christmas Lights: Trains at Night have been enabled by this investment in essential staff.
Many of our steam locomotives are now approaching the point where they have spent longer in our ownership than their working life with the New Zealand Railways. Our first steam locomotive (built in 1910) was recently fitted with a brand new boiler designed and fabricated in New Zealand using modern standards and techniques, and this brand new boiler is expected to last for 60 years. This is the dedication of our team and railway to preserve and share heritage for many decades to come.
There is a global renaissance of traveling by rail. Whether it is to enjoy things at a slower pace, to see different sights, or to lower the environmental impact of travel, people are interested in rail tourism. Over the past three years, the Glenbrook Vintage Railway has grown its capability to operate tour trains on the national rail network and can now provide a locomotive, carriages and all of the onboard staff. With the coming drive to buy local and see local, we think there is no better time to offer tour trains on the national rail network. The operation of these tour trains is key to supporting the sustainable operation of the Glenbrook Vintage Railway as well as extending the community benefits of our operations.
A long term project has been to extend the Glenbrook Vintage Railway track from its current temporary terminus at Victoria Avenue (on the outskirts of Waiuku) a further 450 metres to its ultimate Waiuku Terminus on the Tamakae Reserve (at the southern tip of the Manukau Harbour). This will have the major advantages of bringing passengers right to the centre of historic Waiuku township and the designated “Heritage Area”, providing easy access for passengers of all ages and fitness to patronise Waiuku businesses, cafés and other attractions.
Interaction with maritime activities such as charter boats and historic vessels, and combined train and boat excursions will become possible. It is intended too to originate our rail tour trains to other parts of the country from Waiuku.
This extension is critical to realising the whole potential of the Glenbrook Vintage Railway to contribute to the Waiuku economy.