.... trying to suppress the constant feeling of impending doom for railways in this pro trucking country of ours..
As I sit in the cab of my loco, spitting distance from Whareroa road, completing a brake test and waiting for paper work, I cant help but despair at the constant stream of multi axle road monsters parading past my window, streaming in and out of the dairy plant like a string of busy ants toiling away to keep the colony stocked and alive.
Not only is the frequency of rigs increasing, but so is the average size of each truck and trailer, now longer, bigger and able to haul more than ever before.  
I know I have not been portraying a very positive image recently, but the way I see it, things are quite dire for railways in New Zealand as we know it.  
Company propaganda will have you believe "that its been a great year" but if look past the smoke and mirrors, there is more than meets the eye. This year has seen the closure and sale of the Hillside workshops and with it the loss of many dedicated and skilled employees. 
Never again will rolling stock be manufactured in New Zealand now that we can buy mass produced cheap products from China!
2012 also saw the closure of the Gisborne line, and the final shipment of timber from Wairoa. Guess what mode all that product is sent via now??
Let us not forget the official closure of the S.O.L, nor the many track gangers and infrastructure staff who we made unemployed this year. 
Such is the mentality that when we derailed in Eltham not long ago, the question was raised if we actually needed the siding we were servicing and if the set of points we had damaged could be removed!! 
Let us not forget that Kiwi Rails corporate structure will change quite dramatically at 0001 hours on the 1st of January 2013 as we are molded into a fair humdinger S.O.E while the New Zealand Railways Corporation is dissolved, its staff and assests (but not the land!) are passed onto the "Newco" books.
One then gets suspicious of the top level managers who are rapidly resigning like rats abandoning a sinking ship, and the massive book cooking  re-evaluation and write down of company assets and worth......

Its is touted that tonnage volumes hauled by rail have increased, but that is hard to quantify around here..... 
Not that many moons ago, it was not uncommon for Whareroa to produce 100 or more loaded wagons a day during the peak of the season, 60 odd from the powder bays, 21 or more from butter and at least 15 from cheese. These days you can almost halve all those numbers..... I wonder if that has any correlation to the increased number of trucks of site???? Nah surely not.
Now that trucks can carry just as much product as we can on our highest capacity wagons I cant help but think we are in for a slow and lingering death.

Nails in coffins? Hmmm - check out this bad boy in the picture below. Fonterra has at least three of these super tankers on the road here now, and we are told they plan to have the Paihiatua powder plant running for the 2014 - 2015 season, which will reduce our milk train services. By how much is unknown but current murmurs are at least one train will vanish.
Finally factor in the large number of contract truckies hauling milk in addition to Fonterra's own fleet, each with "High Productivity" mega tankers (some from as far away as Dunedin and Otago) filling in the blanks its a disturbing trend.


Its enough for one to question the viability of opening a truckstop lol!

Righto, enough of the doom and gloom.... some recent foamings are attached below.

Oooo shiney!
Got rocks!?
391 arriving in Palmy.
546 at Marton.
Crossing with 547 at Ruatangata.
521 at Stratford.
528 rolls into Whareroa.
544 at Wanganui.
An old warrior rests in the warm afternoon sun.
Some time ago there were whispers floating about that the big picture plan for the loco fleet did not include DC's, DBR's or DQ's. There were also murmers at the time that the common domestic DFT was being listed on the endangered species list, but I didnt really think they meant it..... well, that is until I was halfway through the latest edition of the weekly company propaganda sheet and found an article lauding the team at Hutt for the "within budget" mega buck rebuild of DFB 7158. 

While a very informative narrative ensued outlining how great they thought all the (still employed) workshop staff and the work that has gone into the rebirth of 7158, a quoted snippet from high brass pretty much confirms that the DFT's will be shown the door with the rest of the GM powered locos currently employed on the system.
“Overhauls were initially planned to start
in the 2009/2010 financial year but were
deferred pending the replacement of the
fleet with the new DL class locomotives.

“However, the continuing development
of KiwiRail’s plan to achieve financial
sustainability showed that 12 DFT
locomotives were still required for service
out to 2020."

“Retaining the DFB sub class with its Brightstar
control system was the logical choice.”

So there it is in black and white - they intend on keeping the weakest links in the fleet (Brightstar was NOT an improvement for this class IMHO) and hiff out the rest once the latest batch of DL's enter service  and are failing at an acceptable rate.

I guess in an effort to maintain a little focus and fairness, the super dooper rebuild of 7158 "restoring it to as near as possible to new condition" may well have turned the Brightstar bodge job into a fine tuned wagon pulling beast - but without a test drive I cant really comment I suppose.
That said, I am sorry to say, but for sheer sportscar-like performance in a loco nothing will ever match a Maxitrax equipped DFT - they were just superior in every way when compared to a castrated Brightstar version. Yes, Brightstar transformed the DX's into unstoppable hill slaying demons, but you would expect those results from a system designed by the loco's manufacturer specifically to be retrofitted into their machines..... putting a "lite" version into DFT's and expecting the same results would be like fitting an Samsung chip into an Iphone and expecting it to perform as good as it would were it at home in a 10.1..... aint gonna happen!!

So, the upshot of all this?? Time to put more effort into snapping piccys of DFT's "doin thar thang" while they are still around. Soon enough the Chinese borg collective will have turned the North Island into a mundane and boring place to railfan!

So they say....

Imagine my surprise when I found this gem on Trade Me today...

Along with the following text:
"The NZR DC class locomotive is the most common class of locomotive currently in operation on the New Zealand rail network. The locomotives started life as members of the since withdrawn DA class diesel-electric locomotives that were built by General Motors Canada. Between 1978 and 1983 the locomotives were rebuilt as the DC class, with a new cab and upgraded engines. Each DC locomotive has a General Motors 12-645C or 12-645E V12 diesel engine and four traction motors, with an authorised maximum speed of 100 km/h. 

The locomotive is 14 metres long and weighs 82 tonnes. DC4156 hit a landslide in the Manawatu Gorge on 25 September 2010. 

This Limited Edition print (based on a pencil drawing) is personally signed and numbered by the artist and is printed on A3 size silk finish 180gsm paper suitable for framing. The paper is archival quality (said to last for 200 years). 

Note: the A3 print is of a much higher quality - the accompanying image has been reduced to deter copying and does not do the art work justice. "

The "art" looks awfully familiar.....
No end to what "art" can be produced in photoshop these days huh!?

Wonder if I will get any royalties............