I have spent the last week on early shift, running 520 through to New Plymouth, returning to Stratford by car and then running 52 shunt when required.
Its been a quiet week operationally and the weather has been rubbish but Friday pleasantly dawned a blue dome day, and also turned out to be the one and only day during the week we would head out on the Kapuni branch. We took an IA wagon with a single  GSM container out to Balance for loading with palletised bags of urea.

Arriving at the Balance siding on the west side of Palmer Road, we found a truck sitting on the scales and we had to wait patiently for it to move before we could enter the siding. Leaving the IA wagon on the scales we ran around it via the track next door and then pushed it up to the loading dock, where it was promptly loaded via two forklifts.
This siding used to be extremely busy "back in the day". Not only were the CAU wagons and top loading urea containers loaded here, but also many ZG, ZH, ZA and ZP could be done in a day too, sometimes necessitating 3 or 4 runs back to Stratford to cope with all the tonnage.

Sadly these days we are lucky to see one wagon a week out here, Balance bitten hard and treated badly by former dictatorships of previous railway management and now very shy of using rail services. Trucks rule the roost here, and its not uncommon to see 10 lined up waiting to be weighed and loaded....

Below are some photos from years past showing life on the branch as it used to be, and the potential for future growth out here. I believe with the right attitudes and the right person leading the way, customers such as Ballance could return to rail and we could grow once again....
52 shunt heading to Palmer Rd with some GSX containers.
Fert container at Stratford.
New ZG at Palmer Road. Note the PetroChem branding - pre Balance.
New ZG's at Stratford.
CAU wagon at Stratford.
I have got some more photos somewhere, but as usual, I cant find them when I want them...... I will add them to this post when I get a chance to dig them out.

Below are a couple of snaps taken over the week. 

There is now only 7 days until the new milk season roster kicks in, and I am told we will be hauling milk again before the end of the month. Add in some roster alterations and changes to our runs and there should well be some far better photos opportunities this season.

Power for 537 sitting at Whareroa.
Smart Road. The DC will rrun 521 and the DFT will go 529. Both locos came in on 520.
The weather has turned to poos again today, so I might get some more piccys online this arvo.

8/11/2012 08:26:05 pm

Nice to see you back, and more great shots!

". . . and its not uncommon to see 10 lined up waiting to be weighed and loaded....". A couple of IAs worth? Says it all don't it.

8/12/2012 03:57:10 pm

. . . was also meant to say don't those new ZGs look flash!

8/12/2012 06:59:45 pm

Welcome back AH

8/15/2012 07:03:05 am

Good call Steve, those branded ZG's always looked the part....So no news on the Chinese invasion? I can only guess its been put off until the second batch arrive?

8/21/2012 09:26:47 pm

You certainly know how to make your blog more than just a rant about an issue. You've made it possible for people to connect. Good for you, because not that many people know what they're doing.


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