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Plans To Mark 50th Anniversiary Tangiwai Disaster


Plans To Mark 50th Anniversiary Tangiwai Disaster

At approximately 10.21pm on Christmas Eve 1953 the Wellington to Auckland night express train with 285 people on board plunged into the flooded Whangeahu River, 151 people were killed.

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy and a number of organisations and groups have got together to organise a major event to mark the occasion.

On Sunday 21 December at 2 pm this year over a 1000 people are expected to gather at the memorial site for a remembrance service at Tangiwai, which is 8 kilometres west of Waiouru.

A special steam train with up to 460 people on board will travel from Palmerston North to Tangiwai for the occasion and then a railcar with around 170 passengers will travel down from Auckland to Tangiwai.

As the steam trains travels through Taihape on the way it will stop for a 20-minute service and blessing on the Taihape railway station platform. This is where Ka 949 and the lost enginecrew joined the ill-fated train 626.

It is expected that a number of survivors and those involved with their rescue will attend on the day as well as the relatives of those who died.

The organisations that are involved in putting the event on include Ruapehu Lions, The Rail and Maritime Trade Union, NZ Army, Ministry of Civil Defence, Ngati Rangi Iwi, Maungarongo Marae, Tranz Scenic and Tranz Rail.

Ian Strachan from Ruapehu Lions chairs the committee.

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