(Working Title: "Sleep Deprivation as a form of torture")

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!
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After a good sleep and fried lunch (sorry for conspiring to ruin the diet, Drew!) we headed back to work to find what would be on 535.  Rod was still assembling the train when we arrived with 5448/5068 on point with 4231 along for the ride.  After Drew attended to some paperwork, we grabbed a warrant and headed for the hills with 10 UK's and 22 empty OM's trailing behind us.
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We had a quick stop at Easttown (Wanganui) to get a new warrant through to Marton, and I took the chance to get out and get some photos of the "old chook" on the back.  With the future being a bit uncertain for the DC's, you have to wonder how much longer 4231 has....mind you, she looks like she may have earned a rest...
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The rest of the trip went swimmingly, despite running yellows for a while around Rangitawa following 201 (The Overlander).  After parking up in Pamy yard at 1700 it was time to grab the car and head south again, finally arriving home at 1930.
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So!  The end of a long day.  I worked out I had gotten 3 hours sleep in the last 40 by the time I got home that evening, and there was still a few hours to go before I could finally turn in.

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...

stuart mcmurray
3/5/2011 04:03:12 pm

Very interesting.Gives us a good insight to what goes on.Great stuff.
Re:4x4,that would have to ruin everybodys day!!!Hope everyone was ok.

Cheers

Stu

Reply
Ev
3/5/2011 07:54:50 pm

I could have written a lot more, but then It would have been novel length....and probably difficult to wade through! Not having any pics of 526 makes it difficult to write about as well.

Reply
steve
3/5/2011 10:29:45 pm

Hey Drew, Where are you heading off to?
Steve

Reply
Mike
3/6/2011 09:26:28 pm

What a great blog entry.
I've got a few questions...
Is Waverley used as a crossing place or do the crews change over using a car?
And which part of Marton's yard is tonnage left from Taranaki trains heading north on the NIMT and vice versa?

Cheers

Mike

Reply
Drew
3/7/2011 01:08:58 am

Mike,
Waverly loop has officially been closed since 2000, but track machines can get in from the south end when needed to stable overnight.
We often use it as a crew change point though when car running is involved.

The tonnage for 526, which comes down on 227 is left on the west loop at Marton.
Any northbound tonnage from Whareroa is taken into Palmerston North.

Hope this helps.
Drew

Reply
Drew
3/7/2011 01:09:37 am

And I must thank Ev for A, his company and B, this awsome blog post.
Drew

Reply
Ev
3/7/2011 03:29:47 am

Sorry, just a quick edit: The Napier train turnaround was 622 for 629, and it was Ken who did that job before taking us west on 526. He literally only had time to throw his gear bag on 7239 before I was handing him his manifest for the Stratford pickups, he started 4438 and we were gone...no mucking about!

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