(CAUTION! This post has more wedge than an wood chopping competition at the A+P show)
Been a busy ol week for sure!
Every day this week I ran 545 down to Wanganui, came back on 528 to Whareroa, then went straight back out again on 547 coming back with 544.
The weather has been superb all week and its been a pleasure to get out in the countryside for some daylight running, even more so that out of the 20 trains I personally drove this week I did not have any problems on any of them, and they have all been good sizes which makes you feel like your achieving something.
Its also been a bit of an exercise in documenting the current rail scene, as I am quite sure this time next year things will be different once the DL's are in service in the region.
I also found it interesting that I had a DXB on 528 every day this week - perhaps as the result of an adjustment to the circuits that locos end up in?
Naturally, as always, there are photos to share....
545 at Wanganui after changing over onto 528.
528 on the mainline waiting for ganger to clear his heat run.
544 pulling into Waitotara.
528 at Wanganui.
545 at Wanganui, waiting for 528.
More wedge than you can poke a stick at....
Friday saw a trainee doing a certification run with his minder driver so I got to sit back and relax for the ride down to Wanganui in the back cab of 545..
I am slowly putting together a post in homage of The Peoples DC - 4444, which has been helped along by some fabulous photos from a few very generous photographers. When I get off my chuff and dig through my boxes of photos to find my photos of 4444 I will be able to finish the post....
Also determined to get some non Taranaki photos up too.... perhaps some of my early Auckland efforts...
Hope you have a good Sunday...
Some random Christchurch and MNL snaps for your cold Wednseday - circa 2006.
5356 All boxed up ready for shipment to Hutt for rebuilding, seen parked the oil siding at Middleton depot having its fluids drained. As per S.O.P many reusable parts were removed from it before it went north.
That sweet late afternoon Canterbury sun lights up 5229 at Middleton. (Still the best paint scheme ever!!)
4847 has come in off the local shunt for servicing as a fresh set of bankers bound for Otira head out with two more Dx's for a coal train.
Sunbathing in front of the depot.
Southbound at Sockburn.
The naughty locos usually ended up as power for the coal dump shuttles....
Classic GM power!
Having just been serviced after a tour of duty as the middle banker loco, 5385 is seen outside just after having 10 days worth of exhaust, oil and coal dust washed off the windows, lights and number boards. They come in so bad sometimes that they are unrecognizable until washed.
A northbound freight service at Kaikoura.
Underway just north of Kaikoura.
The Coastal Pacific as it used to be.
Wharenui with the spot resleepering goup tucked away in the service siding.
Southbound at Rolleston.
Saturday - banker change day, and a this set has just rolled in after ten days working the Otira tunnel. Each loco usually required a full set of brake blocks, a serious amount of oil, water and a damn good clean after each banker tour.
One of the pampered DCP's has the day off from hauling the Coastal Pacific or the "Tranz" as one of its freight hauling brethren waits next door. At that time there were a small number of DCP's based at Middleton exclusively used for passenger trains.
A short freight passes through Sockburn.
The Green Machine! Snot Rockets rest in the afternoon sun gleaming from their recent bath.
This week it was confirmed that poor old 4507 has run its last mile under its own power.
I believe it was involved in a crash of some sort and has since been parted out at Hutt, giving up bits of its running gear to keep others at the workshops going.
I know its not the fist DC to be retired and scrapped, but I see this one as the first of the new order, the executioner sharpening its axe, so to speak.
To be honest I am not really surprised, and it makes me think back to the movie DA Days and that class's twilight years where even the smallest of mechanical failures or incident would result in the loco being retired for scrap, and I imagine the DC's will slowly vanish through attrition as each one fails in service.
I also am led to believe the next batch of DL's will be here in June and as they enter service the older DL's will head to the lower North Island and begin running the majority of freight services in the region. This I assume will see the master plan finally achieved and we will wave goodbye to the DXB's as they head south to the coal fields and the DC's as they retire.
There is plenty of talk among the troops that DL's will be running milk trains next season and our training on the beasts will begin in earnest soon.
The rail scene in the lower North Island is set to change dramatically in short period of time as the Borg like DL invasion takes over. Soon enough there will only be DL's and DFB's as normally aspirated 645's will only be found in museums.
My advice: Get 'em while you can - you'll miss them when they are gone....
521 on Wednesday afternoon.
528 at Stratford, 30 Jan 2013.
Like a hole in the head I bet.... LOL :-)
Happy New Year everyone.
Where have I been I hear you ask? Well, its a bit of epic saga but the main reason for my absence was that I had a month off for the holiday season and we fled to South Island to enjoy the festive season with family and friends. We also managed to go fishing, hunting, 4 wheel driving, kayaking geocaching etc etc etc etc.
I wont bore you with the family snaps.....
I am sorry to say but I had NO motivation to chase trains while we were down there. With temps averaging in the mid 30's the whole vaction, there were far better things to be doing!!
My eldest son raced in the South Island BMX champs at Rangiora, and from the track I could peek through the trees and see trains on the MNL, but thats about as foamy as it got.
That said, we did find a red TR at Spring Creek while returning from a most triumphant Kawhai fishing session at the mouth of the Wairau river...
I am not sure of its purpose but it seem seems to be gainfully employed on a daily basis, which is kinda cool as Tr's at country stations are pretty much a thing of the past these days.
Sadly the holidays had to come to end, and all too soon I was cruising on the Interislander back to the North Island (the rotten fish as my inlaws call it) having to be front and center for work a 4am start on monday morning...
Boy was that a shock to the system hahahaha..
Slotting back into the routine of work, it quickly felt like I had never left as nothing had changed, which I guess is a good thing, and it was system normal.
Predictably it wasnt long until the inner foamer returned, and below are a few piccys from the weeks adventure on the high iron.
5074 on the yard shunt after we broke 5051 and had to park it up.
Running late with 543 after having to wait for 520 to get into Whareroa and relinquish one if its DC's to be returned to Palmy at the request of fleet command, it was a 50 / 50 call whether I went to Kai Iwi or into the loop at Waitotara to cross 526. As it happened I ended up in the loop at Waitotara with about 20 minutes to kill.
The sun was shining and recently rebuilt 7158 was on the point, so it would've been rude not to really....
A little bit of artistic mojo kicked in...
The office. Its got that new loco smell..
One for the rivet counters - new intake grills on the LE side of the machine. The panel where the ladder rungs are was previously blank.
526 at Kai Iwi on Monday.
An Auckland rattler out for a prowl in the province. 528 At Wanganui.
I hope you all have had a great holiday with family and friends, and are ready to put your best foot forward for 2013!!
Take care out there.
Until next time.
.... 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.
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............
Not a lot to report just now. I have spent the week running 545 down to Wanganui and returning to Stratford on 528 before heading home on 521.
I have included a few snaps below taken over the last month around the usual traps....
Big green coal motor 5264 passed through briefly.
Went nutting one morning to get a photo of 526, and thought I had the location pretty sweet but as the train swung round the curve I ended up on the dark side of the train (doh!) so I spent some time mucking around in photo shop...
528 shunts inside Fonterra. Doesnt happen very often so....
Power for 521 sitting in the yard at Stratford. A bit later on we derailed while shunting in Eltham and ended up having to leave the two blues ones behind....
I thought this old chook was doomed! They wheeled her into Hutt for some rust work and by all accounts they all nearly suffered heart failure when they saw the amount of rust deep in her chassis. Obviously though it wasnt terminal and she was spotted at Whareroa one recent rainy sunday sporting a fresh coat of paint on the nose and cab.
A pair of UCG's at the head of the tonnage on 521.
Freshly inspected and repainted UCG 38 now sports its new owners colours. I believe the tanks are owned by Nova, but the chassis they sit on are railways ......... (hence the new paint on the tank only!)
528 in the loop at Waitotara.
528 and 545 crossing at Waitotara.
Peek-a-boo I see you....
528 at Whareroa with an Aucklander on the front.
528 comes into Patea with Auckland regular 7064 on the front.
Last weekend I had the chance to tag along on a mighty foaming mission chasing trains on the N.I.M.T around the Mangaweka - Taihape areas.
We were tread to some fabulous weather and I am pretty stoked at the photos we managed to get and the places we managed to visit. The scnerey is just stunning in the upper Manawatu and there are a bunch of locations just waiting to be further explored!
I previously knew nothing of the area, nor did I have many photos of trains on the trunk but I have come away with a greater appreciation of the area and the size of the trains that traverse it..... I will defiantly be going back for more!!
(you'll have to forgive me, I have forgotten all the train numbers... lol!!)
Southbound freight in the loop at Horopito, late Friday evening.
Northbound freight arrives at Horoptio as the last of the days light slips away.
Northbound through Mataroa.
Southbound freight crossing the South Rangitiki viaduct.
Northbound on the North Rangitiki viaduct.
Just south of the Kawhatau viaduct.
Southbound Dora near the Kawhatau viaduct.
And a bit further south a southbound swings into the sweet afternoon light.
Late afternoon cloud cover steals the sunlight as a northbound freight passes through Mangaweka.
Stopped at Taihape.
390 just north of Mangaweka.
Northbound Explorer near Manganoho.
About to head round the Rangariri curve (horseshoe curve).
4605 working hard up the grade.
7335 heading for home rails.
Heading for home I find this train at Marton in the rain....
Teeming with rain my last shot from a awesome weekend out!
I have been given permission to share some recent photos sent to me by other like minded individuals...
First is a bit of a showcase of passenger trains.
Coastal Pacific near Belfast.
And the North Island version, southbound near Pukekohe.
Dora at Paremata.
Near National Park.
Dora passing along the Wellington coast.
And some black hissy things on the GVR...
Next up is a basic lesson in physics.
This is what happens when you use an empty container wagon as a runner whilst conveying a shunt loco, then swing 900t behind it and expect it all to be able to stop at the same time when something goes wrong....
The resulting momentum shoved the poor IA so hard the buffers broke and launched it into the schnoz of the DSG it was coupled to... bugger..
And the photos below have come from various points on the compass..
Two purple's on 125, 06 Nov 2012.
Southbound at Drury.
224 at Pukerua Bay, Wellington.
DC 4260 let loose on SA duty, Auckland somewhere...
And crossing the iconic Parnell bridge.
And lastly, a couple from yours truly...
528 arriving at Whareroa, 06 Nov 2012.
521 pulling in on the main line at Whareroa with DC's 4191, 4507, 4352 and 4041.