Lost deep in dream land in an alternative universe I was rather abruptly bought back to the real world by a shrill chirping noise....
I lay there for a moment lying in limbo between the real and sureal.....
"chirp chirp" 
"hmm..." I thought to myself "there it is again..."
"chirp chirp"
"Oh, I know that noise".... "its the phone.... the phone is ringing...."


Through one blurry eye I try and read the time on my clock..... 4:45am....


I fall out of bed and shuffle in my best zombie fashion out to the lounge and pick up the phone..
"bro, your late for work!"
"no im not... its my day off"

"yes you are, ops just rang looking for you....."
"whatever!?? (im getting a bit grumpy and puzzled)
"Nah... just joking!"

(laughter from down the phone)
Its my charming mate in rosters......

"What do you want??"
"Come to work please bro, starting at 6(am)???"
(the cheek of it!! lol)

"doin what?"
"work train"

Hmmmm christmas is coming... bills to pay....

"Uhhh ok..."
"Awesome, thank you bro.... taxi is on its way - go to stratford and take Rob with you to New Plymouth...."

And that is how my day started today!
After a very relaxing trip to New Plymouth in the local taxi company's 2 week old Ford Teritory (good times for taxis eh?) we arrived at Smart Road to find our train already together and ready to go courtesy of the driver off 520.
DC4507 will be our companion for the next 10 hours or so.

The track gang were milling about sorting out the welded rail wagons, preparing the machines and unchaining the rail.
Following a brief chat with the head ganger, a brake test and a long conversation with train control (we had to speak slowly so she could understand our intentions) we got lights out of the yard and trundled round the corner to our first discharge point.
For the uninitiated, unloading and picking up welded rail is a time consuming task. Each EWR wagon has a small crane fitted to the center of the wagon, powered by a small Honda engine, which does the lifting and lowering.
Each crane needs its own operator, and as a standard rake of EWR consists of 6 wagons, 6 lackeys are required to operate all the cranes to get one length of welded rail off the wagon.
This procedure is conducted in operatic fashion by the head ganger, as each man needs to liift, luff and drop at the same time. 
Once the rail is on the ground, the grabs are undone off the rail and the process repeats. 
So in orderly fashion, two lengths of rail would be off loaded, we would move forward one train length, and another two more lengths would be dropped off.... and so on and so forth. Once we reached Henwood Road, the gang bailed off, tied down the remaining rails and told us to meet them at Manutahi, where we would be dropping off some more.........

Manutahi!!!! Good grief - this was going to be a long day!

After checking the gang was clear, we got the ok and headed out to Lepperton, where we would have to wait for 526.
7049 and 4185 blow past on 526.
And wait we did... a good 45 minutes in fact. Not too bad though as we were kept amused by the goings on over on the back road...
Turns out that this tamper machine had packed a real sad and had decided it was not going to turn another wheel... quite literally in fact!
We watched with amusement as a big crane lifted the ungainly looking machine onto a truck for transport back to Palmerston North for repairs.
(again, apparently)

The bloke who travels around the country with this particular machine was quite eager to give it away, putting on the hard sell, saying it really would make a fantastic mooring or boat anchor.....

We watched the disgraced tamper drive off into the sunrise before we too headed south after the arrival of 526 - next stop, Manutahi.
(via stratford and whareroa).
After successfully dodging 545 and 542, we are greeted at Manutahi by the same cartel of gangers that did the unloading in New Plymouth.
We rolled through Manutahi and discharged the last of the new rail around the curves before setting back to the north side of Manutahi where the gang wanted to pick up all the extra lengths of rail lying there.

Once the train was positioned we had nothing to do but sit back and watch and wait as the symphony of the cranes was conducted many times over.
A perfect chance to take a walk, grab a couple of shots and have a nosey at the surroundings.
New loop at Manutahi waiting for the official opening ceremony.
All loading and unloading completed we waved farewell to the gang and trundled on south to Patea where we would run around our train and head back to Whareroa.
Looking back on our train tiptoing across the somewhat unhealthy Manawapo viaduct.
Back at Whareroa we tied our train down and headed for home. It was a busy day in ways, and slow in others, but all of a sudden, 10 1/2 hours had gone past and we were boardering on busting our hours.
They wanted us to run the train back to Stratford, but due to all the delays today, that just wasnt gonna happen.
We will leave todays broadcast with a quick snap of 547's power gleaming in the late afternoon light. 5080 was sent to the South Island not long ago, but promptly blew up and was sent back for repairs. It has since found its way onto the milk circuit, but for how long, who knows.....

11/14/2011 05:26:08 pm

Another great post....I'm really loving these "slice of life" stories.

11/14/2011 06:44:30 pm

You evil person you, picking on JD like that :-)
The stuffed tamper would turn its wheels quite happily if you wanted it freewheeling, but under its own power, not a hope.

11/15/2011 03:13:20 pm

Again, it's great to see and hear about that behind-the-scenes stuff. And again, nice photos Andrew! Especially liked the long-nose view of 4507. It shows off her origins very nicely.


Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply.