(Ev is back home, and feels the inclination to waffle...)
Summer is in full swing in the Capital, and that can only mean one thing:  Blocks of Line to complete important work.  As well as the commissioning of the double track to Waikanae, the big job this Xmas season is the lowering of the tunnels on the Pukerua Bank.  And while this is going on, it means all freight is being diverted through the Wairarapa to the tune of roughly 6 trains a day.

Now, for a Hutt Valley-ite like me that is pure heaven....just a quick wander down to my local station to capture some heavy duty freight action, although trying to take pictures is an exercise in frustration;  The Photographers Mantra of "Height, Height and still more Height!" doesn't work here, as all you end up with is lots of overhead wire and posts in the photos.  The train in Question is F16 which for the previous 3 days has been triple headed.  In fact, Amicus still has it with 5074/5114/7064 at the front....but as the pics below show, that wasn't quite what I got....
Seems like I wasnt the only Nutter about....signalling enthusiast and website owner David Castle lining up his shot.
7267 and 7239 north on F16 through Epuni station.
A friendly wave for the gathered foamers....
....and gone.
Finally, heres my own personal "oops!" for the day.  I was hoping to get B29Y at Ava, but my camera had one of those "You want me to do WHAT???" moments......a bit of noticeable shutter lag, methinks! 5097 and 5108 BTW.

Still, a good chance to go gooning in my own backyard (better than being in the office!)  Plus its a stinking hot day out there, the heat alarms at Woburn have gone off, for Gawds sake...

I dug out some more Hawera photos and scanned them last night.... 
Hawera is my railfan Mecca.... its my hometown and also where I first discovered trains and the heady world of being a railfan in NZ, with all the constant changes within the system, back in the days when I knew very little about our nations railways, and often got lost in the excitment of visitng a different station not knowing what locos or wagons would be there, or seeing a loco for the first time...

Now I have to warn you that a lot of the photos in the upcoming blogs are scanned from poorly stored negatives on a cheap negative scanner, and are not the best in quality. I have most of the original prints in albums but all the "good" photos I used to swap with mates and its been a real blast from the past looking back at the negatives...

The next part of Ev's Excellent Adventure was to catch the midday trains, 923 and 920D.  They are timetabled to cross at St Andrews (15 minutes drive south of Timaru) at midday, but more often than not they cross in Timaru as 923 is usually held shunting while 920D gets a smoother run from the south.  Amicus showed 5245 would be coming south on 923 while 5520 would be providing the power on 920D....DXC's in both directions!  Superb!

As I had a meeting with my old music teacher in Waimate timetabled for 1000, my plan was to get to Studholme at around 1100 and catch both trains as they headed through....with a wee bit of time in between to fossick about my old stamping ground.

However!  My perfect plan was scuppered even before it had a chance to be put into action.  I was driving south around Otaio (find a map if you are unsure) when I spied some headlights through the trees....ARRGGHHHH!   Hoping beyond hope that what I had seen was an unscheduled movement (not a reference to all the fruit I had been eating while on holiday, BTW), I rang Train Control from Studholme at around 1115, only to be told by Lena the TCO that 920D was "Long gone" and was now shunting Temuka!  Poo, I said! (Well, it was slightly worse, but what can you do in a public blog?)
Studholme (my old haunt!) from the north.
Studholme is now a shadow of how I knew it in the late 80's;  All of the infrastructure, such as extra loops, the station building, goods shed and loading banks are now all gone to be replaced by trees.  I was hoping to find the old High Level bank in the trees on the left to take a photo from, but no luck....oddly enough, the good shed (built after the Waimate branch closed in 1966 for the potato traffic) now survives as part of Mainline Steams operation at Sockburn.
Traffic through the station now is all for the new diary factory built just outside the station precincts to the west by a complex conglomerate of local farmers and russians (somehow) but I think it is up for sale or reinvestment after the locals got the pip and are now trying to establish their own factory around Morven.  All traffic (such as the HLC's with coal shown here) are lifted from the UK's and taken into the factory to be emptied.  Empty containers are handled the same way, but there is work underway to lay a siding directly into the factory once a second milk drier comes on line.
I spent a pleasant 20 minutes talking to the roving shunter from Oamaru who comes north to help 920D and 923 shunt.....apparently he's now been given a swipe card for the factory smoko room, so life is definitely more bearable when caught short!  I always enjoy catching up with the guys at the coal face.  A light in the distance heralded the approach of 923 and after some less-than-standard radio procedure ("Good Evening!" "Yeah, it is a bit dark!") 923 slowed to a halt to begin its shunt.  The clouds that had arrived from the south made photography a bit problematic, but with a Snot Bonnet DXC on the point I wasnt going to pass up a chance to get some snaps.  Interest was added by 4847 tagged on behind which was picked up as a banker from Timaru
After discussions between the shunter and the LE,  the locos cut off their train and pulled across Foley's Rd into the old ratty backshunt to begin the shunt.  Nothing quite like standing right beside a DX when it spools up!

To get ready for departure, I walked through the gate and into the paddock shown here in front of the locos to hopefully get a decent pic of 923 leaving the loop and heading south.

I'd only been there maybe 3 minutes when a ute pulls in through the gate and stops beside me.  Thinking I was about to get pinged for trespassing by an angry cockie with a loaded shotgun under the seat, I was a tad apprehensive.  "Are you from KiwiRail?"  he asked....to which I replied in the affirmative.  "Are you here to look at that f*&*$%#@#$%ing crossing?"  Umm...no?  He then proceeded to tell me (in quite colourful language that would have my mothers knitting circle blushing) about how shunting trains are making his life a misery, especially around harvest time when time is everything.  Apparently he has complained, but nothing etc etc...

Still, we had a good chat about it, and I managed to get him off onto a story about how he got his leg caught in the potato harvester so I think we parted on amicable terms.  I think it bought home to me how at KiwiRail we need to work hard at being good neighbours, especially with the locals in out of the way places like Studholme.

While this was going on 923 departed, followed by a cheery wave from the fleeing shunter (who was probably quite thrilled someone else was getting it in the neck for a change!).  Its all part and parcel of being out on the track with the company name on your Hi-Vis I suppose.

So that was the day!  Family duties precluded me chasing the evening trains, but a quick look in Amicus confirmed it was just 7199 and 7295 returning home, so I dont think I missed much.  But I'm glad I took the chance to get out and get the DXC photos at least, especially as there is a Ferry Sailing tomorrow that we're supposed to be on to return my to the world of work and commuter trains....
Gotta love those Snot-Bonnets!!!
(A guest post from Ev.)

Drew seems to be a bit worried that he is saturating the blog with too many pictures and stories of his South Taranaki exploits...which is fair enough I suppose, seeing as it is his blog.  However, I thought I would chime in (invited, of course) with a wee write up of this mornings excursion taken while on holiday in South Canterbury

The rail traffic on offer today is far removed from the railway operations that I knew growing up.  The low point was in the 1990's where fast express freights seem to frequent the hours of darkness, and so the chances of engaging in the noble art of train chasing was all but impossible. Fast forward 20 years and a new player is evident in the commercial marketplace:  Dairying.  The boom in the South Island have made many farmers veritable millionaires overnight and provided KiwiRail with some of its most lucrative traffic....and to stand trackside at Timaru will net you 10 freight trains over a 24 hour period.....and each one of these trains will shunt Ashburton, Temuka, Timaru, Studholme and Palmerston, a scenario virtually unheard of even ten years ago when Studholme and Temuka were virtually abandoned.

So, knowing that the Christmas timetable was about to come into effect, I chose Xmas eve to do a spot of "gooning" over the course of a morning.

First targets were trains 937 and 934D.  Amicus showed DFT 7295 was in charge of 937 while 7199 was on the point of 934D.  So, trooper that I was, I was out of the house at 0600 to meet 937 which was scheduled into Timaru 20 minutes before 934D.
Having heard 937 call from Washdyke, I set up on the overbridge at the north end of Timaru yard...and waited...and waited....To fill in time, I took a few pics of other things (as you do) only to get the dreaded "low battery" warning!  And then I felt a few spots of rain!  So it was touch and go as to what was going to arrive first:  The train, the rain or the temper tantrum caused by flat batteries.  Luckily 937 won the race (Phew!).  After waiting at the home signal for a few more minutes, 7295 slowly eased past into the loop.

The reason for the wait soon became clear; 934D had made up time and was signalled clear into the station limits first.  As 934D had no work to do at Timaru (unlike 937) it was just a case of waiting for the line to clear before heading north.  937 can be seen in the left background having left its containers behind me on the loop and pulled forward to drop off some empty IC's.  As an aside, 7199 seems to be a popular loco in these parts as it turns up time and time again on the early morning and evening trains between Middleton and Dunedin...I'm almost getting sick of the sight of it!

It was then down to 3018 (Timaru's resident DSG which is often used for shunts to Pareora and Washdyke) to back down onto 937's empty containers on the loop and pull them forward into the yard.  As with most yards these days, the shunters rely heavily on the Quad Bikes to get them from A to B....and I'm sure Drew has a few stories about there use (or misuse) as seen from the drivers cab!

So there was now nothing else to do except hook back up to the remaining containers and get outta town.....

I'm always interested to see the Gold Hoppers ("Goldies") mounted on the IA wagons.  This traffic from Reefton on the West Coast comes south each morning on 937 to Palmerston where it is turned around in time to be attached to the opposite service (922) in the afternoon...which (co-incidentally) usually uses the same loco off 937.  So had I have been of a mind, I could have gone to the yard at around 1800 that evening and seen 7295 heading north with the same goldies, this time empty.

Once 937 has cleared the loop and departed to the south, its time for 934D and 7199 to head north as well, seen here taking the light before the climb up the grade through Caroline Bay.

Well!  An action packed hour with the weather thankfully playing its part, although that was all to change when I went looking for 923 at midday...but thats the next part of the story.

uhhh cheeeese...
Hehe... Yours truely posed with my favourite V8 of all time at the Westland Dairy Company sidings in Hokitika. Taken 6 years ago! (OMG!)
Though I spent a short time based on the coast (long story tho) I became very fond of the Hokitika branch and all its glorious old school trimmings, like something straight out of a NZRLS booklet of olde..
Running x6 shunt was a real highlight for me, and I tried to get on it as much as I could.....

@ Waitotara around 6:30am.
Pulled up on the mainline at Waitotara today with 543 and there to greet me was another South Island border raider, in the form of DFT 7008.

Was a nice change from the normal wobbly old DFT's, and I think the Phase 1 KR paint scheme suits the DFT rather well, much better than the current KR paint scheme.

...down in the valley, where the wind blows....
Getting a decent photo of northbound trains in the morning on the MNPL is a bloody mission as the line travels west or north for 90% of its length, and the sun is almost always behind the train. 
There are, however a couple of sweet spots in the valleys where the line does some 90 degree turns, and in some cases near 120 degree curves towards the light and as I had to stop at one such spot (CSB'S just out of frame) it would be rude not to eh?? :-)

pre dawn delights....
And just in case you have not yet had enough Kiwi Rail today, here is my 543 at Patea at 6am after crossing 540...
DXB's 5022 and 5108 plus DC 4605.

For the next post I will find something in the archives from somewhere other than the Naki eh?? 

Any requests?

I found it amusing that I got kinda excited, not just to see 5241 in something other than rain, but that its mate for the day was also a slimy shade of snot too, in the form of 7186, which I am told is slated to be the first of "The Chosen 6" to get an extreme makeover at Hutt in the new year. (move that bus...)
In fact, I found the green goblins quite a refreshing change from all the shiney KR bling that the lower North Island is blessed with these days.....

But per chance we dial the clock back a mere three years ago,  almost to the day that the above photo was taken, we can see that we were overrun with a virtual field of green...

In what I believe to be a first in milk train history, a milk train (544) rolled in yesterday powered by 2 (!) DXC South Island coal motors -  recent rebuild 5304 and hard core coal route veteran 5241.
I believe they are "loaners" to help out the lower NI due to the clever (!??) decision to release to ARTA some DFT/B's before the DL's arrive.
Sorry there are no pretty sun-over-my-shoulder 3/4 wedges - it was raining and getting late in the day.

5304, which I missed seeing after its rebuild before it went to the South Island...

And scungy black snot rocket 5241 showing all the hallmarks of a hard life on the coal route.

I think its fair to say that the South Island DX fleet work a fair bit harder than their North Island brethren.

Two bumblebees... 4185 and 4398.
Well, not really. 
Every 6 weeks on our roster we get to take a rental to Palmy and bring 548 home.

I really enjoy it, as it allows a good run over the line between Palmy and Whareroa, and it usually allows a good spot of foaming in a "big" depot bagging some stuff that is not normally seen in our patch.

At right is a uber crusty British bulldog posing as EF 30007, with bretheren 30249 looking much tidier behind it.

not leaving the depot anytime soon...
And at right is my power for 548 last night, DXB's 5097 and 5051.

There is usually several locos around on a sunday, but this day the cupboard was bare =(