(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.

12/25/2010 08:33:18 am

Sweet post Ev!
Those piccys are great. Timaru is a neat spot for railfanning, especially with the footbridge over the yard.


12/26/2010 09:55:49 am

Hi Drew, great blog, good read.

And nice guest piece from Batchelor the Younger. For any passers by, this was Studholme in the 80s:



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