More of Ev's Excellent Adventures!
With Drews impending departure from the ranks of KiwiRail, I decided I had better try and make the most of my chances to go for a ride with him before he was given the Golden Handshake and the Silver Kick up the Bum. The roster that showed the most promise with the milkies winding down was train 535, due to leave Whareroa at 1330 aiming in the general direction of Palmy. Discussions then revolved around how to get there and whether it would be possible to catch a service up in the morning.
Well, yes it was, came the answer....but the only one that was even close to being helpful was train 526 to New Plymouth. Departure time from Palmy? 0330. <GULP>
So to cut a long story short, Friday the 4th found me stealing out of the house in Lower Hutt at 0100 (!) to be at Palmy by 0300. Somebody seriously needs to consult their clinical psycologist on this one....After checking in with Palmerston Nth operations at Milson, I retired to the picnic table outside to watch the action.
For those who have seen Palmerston Nth yard during the day and thought it was quiet, you really have to see it in the early hours of the morning. The place was ALIVE. Trains were arriving and departing to all points of the compass. In fact, some outbound trains such as 622 (to Napier) are taken out to the next station to cross their inbound counterpart (in this case 629) so it relieves yard congestion.
I tracked down my driver Ken Jenkins who had just bought in 629. He informed me we were light engine to Marton where we would pickup tonnage left for us by 227. So without further ado, we grabbed 7239 and 4438 and headed north, crossing an inbound freight with two 30's on it at Rangitawa.
After picking up the tonnage with the help of Vic the Roving Shunter, we grabbed our first warrant for the morning from TCO Julie Dwyer and headed east on the MNPL.
Ken was pleasant company as we headed west, finally finding daylight around Waitotara in time for the crew change at Waverley. The new driver was Rod McGee, Drew's Team Leader. Again, lots of conversation about the job and the company and a long discussion over the recent earthquake. We pulled in to Whareroa around 0800 to find my taxi awaiting (Hilux Surf) for the trip back to Drews place and a sleep.
I had contemplated staying with 526, but it may have been good that I didnt....this was further down the line at Inglewood! Ironically its the only photo I have of the train....and it was from a news website!
Highlight of the trip (sorry Drew!) was meeting Ken and Rod and talking shop with them. I'm always intrigued by the passion that everyone shows for the company and how much they care for its future!
Was it worth it? Stupid question...