The sleepy slumber of the winter roster and pint sized trains has given way as the new milk season swings into action once again.
Our little yard has gone from woah to go in a week, with three milk trains running already!
I have added some random bits and pieces from this weeks adventures.
First up is a piccy of the freshly painted Patea river bridge (bridge 41) which was blasted and repainted over the winter....
Next we have progress (!?) at Manutahi. After all the effort expended installing the loop at manutahi, writing out new rules proceedures, site visits and staff training, the points have now been ripped out and work has begun on the extension, which will include installation of ctc here to turn the loop into a remote crossing loop operated by train control. There is also a large amount of earthworks going on to the west of the mainline too, which has me wondering if its all related or if thats where the overburden is being dumped from the formation works....
What I have found really sad is although KiwiRail's cost cutting job reductions for gangers have been touted as not being filled by contractors, there is not one Kiwi Rail ganger or vehicle to be found at Manutahi for this project..... they are all contractors.... hmmmm
In other news, milk has started flowing in great volumes, and two full milk trains are already running!
A massive dairy plant with a massive consumption can be likened to the human digestive system.... what goes in must come out at the other end, and true to form, an instant increase in container loads has occurred.
540 unloading this morning.
544 rolling into Patea for changeover.
TEU's as far as the eye can see...
Hire containers used to transporting "domestic" products to other warehouses.
Remember the new coolstore being built?
Now it looks like this.....
The scene at Whareroa this morning.
Of course no post could be complete without some cheesy roster shots! Featuring this week are a couple of grotty two stroke war horses that are surely in need of some love (and a little dulux!?).
( thats 7173 in case you cant see the numbers! )
And to round out this installment is a couple more of my 537 sitting in the loop at Patea yesterday waiting for 544 to arrive.
Untill next time..
Oh, and some goss I got told today - the big cheese is currently offshore buying more Chinese locos and wagons...... yay.
I had a few minutes to kill at East Town this morning waiting for the wheels of progress....
526 at East Town this morning.
One from this side......
...and one from this side.....
.... and one of thelog wagons....
The golden arches... :-)
Below are a few shots from the shoe box taken around the port in the early 90's, most taken while I was living in NP at boarding school.
Overview of the port yard, early 90's.
Former UC tank wagon converted into a bitumen container to ride on IA type wagons.
More converted old UC tank wagons.
TBB and TCC containers, and VRB's full of butter and cheese from Whareroa getting unloaded on the wharf.
More of the former UC tank wagons in the siding where they were loaded.
A UBC cement wagon stored at the port. The blue paint around its number means its written off and waiting for scrapping.
Straight from Whareroa this train ran directly to the port, seen here passing Moturoa coolstores. April 1993
Down in the port yard about to run around its train.
and then push the wagons onto the wharf!
Then brand new the DXR was specially arranged to be part of a shuttle train to convey passengers from New Plymouth to the port for their open day. 1993 or 1994.
The Westgate port open day train seen just west of the site of the old station platform down town.
DC4133 was on the other end of the train operating push pull type. DC 4853 was there at the start of the day, but was incorrectly set up and dragged all the way down to the port, and had to be towed back to Smart Road with extreme wheel flats. Oops! Seen here near Belt Road.
The port open day was a grand affair with many displays and demonstrations. New Zealand Rail sent several of the latest and greatest of their wagons for display, including VRB, VS, and this ZBV.
7239 running as 528 (light loco) sitting at the Stratford platform while waiting for 521 to arrive from New Plymouth. DC 4012 was used on 52 shunt during the day and will catch a ride back to Palmy on 521.
I went digging through my photos and found a bunch of old gems, both of the fert works in New Plymouth, the port and the ones below showing some of tonnages we used to move out of Palmer Road, to supplement the ones in my Sunday Waffles
52 shunt pulling away from Te Roti junction on the Kapuni branch with a long rake of empty urea containers bound for Petrochem at Palmer Road.
Standing on Palmer Road looking east as the shunt approaches. The siding on the right is the loop for the LPG siding (behind the fence extreme right).
At the end of the branch, the shunt will run around the containers in the Kapuni yard and take them back to Palmer road to push them into the sidings. This move was necessary when the "loop" in the Petrochem siding was full and there was no room to work the sidings with the loco on the west end of the rake. The P+O containers behind the loco have been pushed out of the Lactose siding by their little Price.
The little Price built chain driven shunter of the Lactose company pushes a UK wagon out of their siding and onto the shunt.
The Price had no buffer in the back end as their siding was a single dead end track, and they would pull the empty wagon into their siding and load it, then push it out and get the next one. This loco is now at Paihiatua.
Some days the Petrochem tonnage was so great two DC's were needed to get it all back to Stratford.
And another shot of those fine looking ZG's at Palmer Road.
I have got a bunch more photos of the port, and of the various locos that have worked at the fert siding in New Plymouth over the years sitting in the draw, which I hope to scan soon..... best to strike while the irons hot, on a roll and all that :-)
WHAT!!!?? Three posts in one week... unheard of!! Carefull son, you may burst something!
528 was cancelled again yesterday and I duly arrived at Smart Road in good time, so rather than sit in the office twiddling my thumbs waiting for my train to be made up, I jumped on the shunt and went for a ride with them down to the port. The wagons they were retrieving were for my train so why not eh?
I must admit I was a bit like a kid in a candy store! I have not been down to the port in a very long time and it was a real thrill to see it all again. Pre 911 one could wander willy nilly through most of the port, around most of the wharf area and "round the back" on the seaward side of the power station. The place was chocka full of interesting things to see, including large numbers of seals. There was also some very very old parts and you could see old railway tracks beside an old rubbish furnace on what looked like an equally old former jetty / wharf thing.
We used to camp regularly at Belt Road motor camp, and if I wasnt wandering around the Morely street loco depot, I could be found wandering around the port. Heavy industry has always fascinated me, and to see so much of it in the form of trains, ships, cranes, trucks, power station and all the other things found at a port was just heaven for a young lad. During my time at boarding school in New Plymouth I would bike down to the port after school to escape the rigors of calculus, geometry and shakespear. There was nothing like sitting on the breakwater ackmons absorbing the sounds and smells of the ocean pounding the land, the industrial noise of a busy port and if I were lucky, a train shunting the yard.
Sadly in these high security terrorist times, the port is now ringed by a big arse security fence, with all areas off limits to the public, just in case someone slips a bomb into a container that may end up in the USA....
So back to my ride.. we ran down to the siding at Moturoa coolstores light engine, pulled some wagons out, and down into the port yard to run around them, before heading back to Smart Road. Like I said, I was quite excited about the excursion which is off the normal beaten path for me, so my OCD kicked in and I snapped a bunch of photos...
The second man watches the line intently as we head to the port.
The weather was crap - Lord knows why I didnt do this on monday when it was sunny...
Looking back to the wagons we will pick up.
Having entered the siding from the port end we wander back to get the wagons.
The containers are loaded on the ground by the coolstores and then lifted up onto the wagons here via swing lifter.
The rake is checked and inspected before pulling...
And then we head out to the port. The old sidings at the coolstores can be seen, left over from the days when they used to load the containers on wagons here.
We drop down into the port yard. There is a big automated gate that crosses the line here, opened by port security staff. The power station chimney rises into the clouds in the distance.
Down in the port yard. The track curving away to the right leads to Blyde Wharf where they load and unload containers. The rest of the yard is just used for storage / running around.
Concrete silos in the background were once served by UBC wagons here. The black tanks in foreground are old UC tank wagons converted into inter-modal bitumen containers. We used to rail these to Greymouth and Penrose...
DSC 2530 in the early 90's shunting Blyde Wharf.
The track leading off into the distance once lead to the urea unloading facility. CAU wagons full of urea were pushed up into the building and discharged into a big hopper that would feed conveyors to load ships. The area is now all log storage (none by rail!!) and I believe the old urea store has been flattened to make way for coal storage bought up the coast by barge.
DSC 2257 pulling wagons out of the urea store in the early 90's. The green and black crane looking thing in the background was used to load ships.
Did I mention it had been raining??
having bought the wagons into the yard, we run around the rake, our RCO trying to stay anonymous! :)
Another test of the brakes and we are off...
Crawling up the hill searching for a good spot to find radio coverage to get a light....
"Clear proceed" (or "green up" in the old money) and we head back to smart road.
Coursing along the coast downtown New Plymouth. The pole center frame is the "wind wand". I really shoulda done this on a sunny day.
Back at smart road, my power for 529 on the right.
All in all a sweet wee trip and a neat blat down memory lane...
My up train was cancelled on monday afternoon, so I got to take the Rolls through to Smart Road instead. As I was super early and had a couple of hours to kill, I went for a wander around the yard to see what I could find. Turns out the place was crawling with DSC's, so a few shots were taken for posterity.
2556 was towed up on 526, and will replace 2338 at the fert siding.
Whareroa's regular DSC 2624 has spent the winter hiding in New Plymouth on gantry duty.
Poor old 2257, owned by Ravensdown, went pop at least 6 or more years ago, and has not turned a wheel since.
VRB's in storage, unlikely to see active service again.
Two gas tanks sit on an IAB under the water sluice in the new transfer siding.
Another view of the sluice, the cage on the right being where the trucks park while transferring LPG to wagons.
DSC 2338 catches the late afternoon sun at the fert works.
Ex 520 that morning, 7241 and 5108 will be the power for my 529.
528 has been cancelled again today, so there will be another drive to New Plymouth today.
I have spent the last week on early shift, running 520 through to New Plymouth, returning to Stratford by car and then running 52 shunt when required.
Its been a quiet week operationally and the weather has been rubbish but Friday pleasantly dawned a blue dome day, and also turned out to be the one and only day during the week we would head out on the Kapuni branch. We took an IA wagon with a single GSM container out to Balance for loading with palletised bags of urea.
Arriving at the Balance siding on the west side of Palmer Road, we found a truck sitting on the scales and we had to wait patiently for it to move before we could enter the siding. Leaving the IA wagon on the scales we ran around it via the track next door and then pushed it up to the loading dock, where it was promptly loaded via two forklifts.
This siding used to be extremely busy "back in the day". Not only were the CAU wagons and top loading urea containers loaded here, but also many ZG, ZH, ZA and ZP could be done in a day too, sometimes necessitating 3 or 4 runs back to Stratford to cope with all the tonnage.
Sadly these days we are lucky to see one wagon a week out here, Balance bitten hard and treated badly by former dictatorships of previous railway management and now very shy of using rail services. Trucks rule the roost here, and its not uncommon to see 10 lined up waiting to be weighed and loaded....
Below are some photos from years past showing life on the branch as it used to be, and the potential for future growth out here. I believe with the right attitudes and the right person leading the way, customers such as Ballance could return to rail and we could grow once again....
52 shunt heading to Palmer Rd with some GSX containers.
Fert container at Stratford.
New ZG at Palmer Road. Note the PetroChem branding - pre Balance.
New ZG's at Stratford.
CAU wagon at Stratford.
I have got some more photos somewhere, but as usual, I cant find them when I want them...... I will add them to this post when I get a chance to dig them out.
Below are a couple of snaps taken over the week.
There is now only 7 days until the new milk season roster kicks in, and I am told we will be hauling milk again before the end of the month. Add in some roster alterations and changes to our runs and there should well be some far better photos opportunities this season.
Power for 537 sitting at Whareroa.
Smart Road. The DC will rrun 521 and the DFT will go 529. Both locos came in on 520.
The weather has turned to poos again today, so I might get some more piccys online this arvo.