( The weather is crap and I am home alone this morning so what better excuse do I need eh? )
SO where to start.....
I guess the biggest recent event in my little world of trains has been the derailment at Maewa last week.
A wagon derailed on the curves to the north of Maewa, rattled along the sleepers for a while and then went postal on the north end set of points at the Maewa loop, destroying them and taking 5 other wagons with it.
The subsequent damage caused to the track, saw the NIMT closed for almost 2 days while the debris was cleared and repairs to the track could be made. Around 600m of track was almost totaled and the time needed to repair the damage to get trains running was clear by the time it took to reopen the mainline.
The derailment happened on a Tuesday night and before long trains were stacked up everywhere and security companys in the upper Manawatu were rubbing their hands with glee at all the extra work they had just picked up guarding abandoned trains up and down the trunk.
Trains 521, 529 and 523 ended up parked beside each other at Marton. Tonnage in the Naki had built up over the following day, so the call was made to send a pair of locos (4191 and 5114) from Marton back to New Plymouth light to run another service south into the parking lot. I was called out to run the locos from Whareroa to New Plymouth, and then return to Whareroa running as 529.
When the locos finally showed up at Whareroa, the south facing loco (dxb5114) had flat batteries so we had to bust out the jumper leads and jumpstart the old girl from the DC. Now I have to admit, jump starting a loco is a nervous process at best of times, let alone at dusk with a stone cold dx. Several attempts were made before we got 5114 running on its own, but another 40 minutes had passed, and darkness was apon us.
I ran the locos straight through to New Plymouth, and straight into the fuel bay to refill the locos, and then onto the tonnage for my train. A quick brake test later, and I was on my south. Shunting Stratford and Eltham on the way down, 529 had grown to a full load for DX+DC combo by the time it had got to Whareroa.
It occured to me that may well be a mess down the line, and a quick glance at the big brother screen earlier had shown several trains in Marton / Palmy area. In no rush, and with 545 in front of me, I just puddled my way down to Wanganui. During the whole journey the train cotnrol radio had been alive with chatter as the poor TCO on duty tried valiantly to keep trains running.
With Maewa loop out of action and a lengthy 10km/h speed restriction over the derailment damaged section, trains were at a standstill everywhere. When I arrived at Marton I found a super huge 225 sitting on the East Main (with two DL's on the front) waiting for its turn to head south. Also at Marton in the east sidings was a lot of trunk tonnage that had been abandond there some time in the last two days.
One station down at Greatford, 545 was waiting in the loop, and had been for some time. And further along at the next crossing loop, the Wanganui shunt was stabled in the loop there waiting to return to Palmerston North. Train 220 was trying its hardest to come north through all of that, but was massive, and having issues with the its electric locos.
Once 220 finally arrived at Marton, 225 was given the go, and everybody shuffled down one stop. 561 (wanganui shunt) was sent into the Rangitawa - Maewa section, 545 headed for Rangitawa and 225 puddled down to Greatford. After an apparent eon, I finally got green lights and got bumped one stop down to the now vacant Greatford main line to wait for a northbound 546 loaded milk train, which had been crossed 545 at Feilding.
To add to the chaos, the reliefe driver for 225 was not DL certified and went back to Palmy in the car, one of the other trunk trains was too big to fit into the loop at Feilding, and some shuffling had to be done, and train 528 (was behind 220) had loco issues, was put into Bunnythorpe loop behind 546, crapped out and was sent back to Palmy where it was promptly cancelled!!
So I after another 40 odd minutes at Greatford, 546 comes and goes, and I get down to Rangitawa for a wee while and then through to Feilding over the derailment site... and what a mess! There is a big hole in the ground where the north end of the Maewa loop used to be!!!
At Feilding I am put in the hole to wait for 210, which is stopped down by Bunnythorpe after reports of sparks coming from one of its wagons. More delays. 220's driver walks his train but finds no defects, returns to the cab and the train rolled past me no worries either. By this time 521 had come down from Marton and was tucked into the loop behind my 547.
Finally away from Feilding I cross a pair of light locos at Bunnythorpe on their way to Marton to retrieve the tonnage in the sidings there.
Rolling down the arrival at Palmy I have to wait for the yard shunt to clear a spot for me to come into the yard (which is chokka block!) and it takes a further 30 minutes to pick my way through the yard and get into loco.
In total it took 7 hours and 20 minutes to run from Whareroa to Palmy - a run that usually takes just under 4.
914 is replacing Tr 908 at Eltham, which is in turn headed to Wellington for a rebuild and repaint.
Milk train 540 still continues to run every day, bolstered by the extra milk as a result of the closed Manawatu Gorge road, and milk plant shut down at Longburn.
I have had a few runs to New Plymouth and few more down to Palmy and back (547 down for 548 home) which has seen me cover a fair few rail miles in a short time....
Untill next time.