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.
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.
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.