Monday, February 8, 2016

New South Wales - November 2015

Canberra Railway Station. 19/11/2015.

After finishing up some work in Canberra I was able to take a few days off before heading back to NZ. I started my rail fan holiday at the Canberra Railway Station. After checking in I was able to have a wander around the platform. 

Canberra station fueling point.

The Canberra station yard is pretty basic with only three tracks and a fueling point for he diesel multiple units that use this station. 

The Explorer DMU waiting for its 06:50 am departure to Sydney. 19/11/2015.

I also grabbed a few photos of the Explorer diesel multiple unit that was my ride to Goulburn. The unit was looking a little worn on the inside but was clean and comfortable and the staff were really helpful and friendly. 

The run from Canberra to Goulburn was a great trip with plenty to see. What really surprised me was how well the remaining stations on the line were maintained and the amount of old rail infrastructure remains. In NZ any old infrastructure seems to disappear pretty quickly but travelling through the ACT and into NSW there was a lot to keep a foamer interested.

It didn't seem to take too long before we arrived in Goulburn and I left the Explorer to continue its trip to Sydney. 

Sydney bound Pacific National intermodal freight with two NR locomotives at the business end. 19/11/2016.

Not long after the Explorer departed Goulburn a Pacific National intermodal freight made its way through the station. With time on my hands I was able to explore the Goulburn station and have a good look around.

Goulburn Railway Station

Goulburn railway station information board.

Goulburn is a well known railway town in Australia and you can really feel the history of the place. I would have loved to have visited this place in the 1970's and 80's to see class 422, 44 and 48 diesel locomotives at work.

With a communications fault at Moss Vale my ride to Melbourne was delayed an hour. The station staff at Goulburn were great and kept everybody waiting for the XPT updated. In fact I take my hat of the all the NSW trains staff. The stations looked great and the staff were friendly and helpful. Good work!

We were informed the XPT was not far away and I was able to set up on the pedestrian over bridge to grab a shot of the train as it approached Goulburn station.

The XPT arriving at Goulburn. 19/11/2015.

Racing down the over bridge I was able to clamber on and find my seat. Shortly the XPT was winding up, passing the workshop at Goulburn and the junction with the line to Canberra. 

As we headed south to Melbourne I was surprised by the Main South Line. I was expecting a fairly flat run but there were plenty of curves and grades. The XPT, a cousin of the British Rail HST seemed to take it in its stride. We passed through a number of stations. Gunning, Yass Junction, Harden, Cootamundra, Junee and Wagga Wagga, The Rock and Albury. All interesting in their own right.

Shortly after leaving Albury we crossed the border into Victoria. 

As we made our way through the outer suburbs of Melbourne there was a bang and we quickly ground to a halt. Train staff were walking up and down the train. We were soon informed that some young children had placed something on the tracks. Once the all clear was given we continued our run through the Melbourne suburbs. 

We were soon approaching Southern Cross station, the end of the XPT's run from Sydney to Melbourne. After hopping off and collecting my bag I was making my way through Southern Cross and seeing for the first time N class and P class diesels. Locomotives I've read about, seen pictures of and you tubed were here in the flesh. I wanted to stick around but I was absolutely knackered and it was time to find my hotel.

And that's about it. The Victoria part of my break away will be coming shortly.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Pacific National intermodal freight cruises through Goulburn. 19/11/15.

2016! Already! 

Hope everybody had a great Christmas and a good start to the new year.

I can't believe how fast the last year has passed by. Unfortunately rail fanning took a back seat to family and work in 2015. The rail fanning highlight for me last year was a trip from Canberra to Melbourne using a combination of an Explorer DMU and the XPT plus a few days exploring Melbourne's suburban network. A post on my travels through New South Wales and Victoria will be coming shortly.

Until then take care and enjoy the start of 2016.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Shot for the day

DXB 5080 leads 923 Middleton - Dunedin freight through Ravensbourne. 24/09/15.

With the bosses away this week I managed to sneak away from the office early today and grab this shot of 923 as it neared its destination of Dunedin.

And thats about it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Otautau's Grain Transfer Facility

Otautau grain transfer facility.

On a recent work trip to Southland I made a little detour through the small Southland town of Otautau. Otautau is a station on the Ohai branch line. The reason I wanted to go through this town was to get some shots of a structure I've been hoping to have a look at for a long time, the Otautau grain transfer facility.

I don't know why but I really like grain facilities. It could be from my youth in Marton that had a number of grain silos and the malting plant or my time in the midwest in the states where every town had an elevator and grain silos.

Either way I just think they look good and this one especially sticks out. While I don't have the space at the moment this is one grain facility that I will build a model of in the future.

So without further ado here are some shots of the Otautau grain facility.

The grain facility hasn't been used for awhile and is starting to look rundown. Looking at the siding leading to the silos it hasn't been used to transfer grain from truck to train for a very, very long time. Would love to see a photo of a wagon being loaded here. 
From a modeling point of view this would look really good with a few V/line VHGF wheat hoppers being loaded.

And thats about it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A visit to Dunedin railway station

Dunedin Station. 1/6/15

After tidying up a few jobs in town I decided to head down to the Historic Dunedin railway station to see if anything was happening. It was pretty quiet, not even a shunt heading out to the port or back.

This gave me a good chance to have a look at Dunedin Railways loco's and carriages. Dunedin Railways is the new name for the Taieri Gorge Railway, a tourist passenger train operator based in Dunedin that operates services to Pukerangi and Middlemarch on the former Central Otago railway and over the KiwiRail network to Palmerston and Oamaru.

If you're visiting the lower South Island a trip on a Dunedin Railways train up the Taieri Gorge is a must. Well after that unpaid advertisement for Dunedin Railways back to their locos and rolling stock.

Dunedin Railways DJ 1227 ready for another trip up the Taieri Gorge. 1/9/15

Dunedin Railways operate its trains using a fleet of five ex New Zealand Railways DJ class diesel - electric locomotives. The 64 members of the DJ class were built by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and came into service in 1968 and 1969. The light weight triple bogie locomotives were used exclusively in the South Island and completed the dieselisation of the New Zealand railway network. The last steam loco's being withdrawn in 1971.

 DJ 1227's brass number plate and Mitsubishi builders plate (sticker).

Alongside the DJ's, Dunedin Railways has a fleet of ex New Zealand Railways and KiwiRail carriages.

The fleet is made up of wooden and steel carriages. Me, I prefer the wooden carriages because you can still lift the window and lean out (but not to far) to enjoy the passing scenery. Heres a few images of the older wooden type carriages still in service.

And some of the steel carriages....

In the last year Dunedin Railways has started to repaint and rebrand their steel carriages in the new Dunedin Railways livery. There has been a lot of different liveries on passenger carriages in New Zealand over the last few decades but the new livery is, in my opinion, one of the best I've seen.

Operating alongside the carriages is an open observation carriage that has been rebuilt from an ex FM guards van. This type of observation carriage is also used on the Tranz Alpine and Coastal Pacific passenger trains operated by KiwiRail Scenic. 

AG class open observation carriage.

With the weather closing in I quickly grabbed a few shots from the stations pedestrian over bridge. Dunedin Railways passenger services depart and arrive from the main line and the famed south dock.

 Dunedin Railways carriages resting in the South Dock at Dunedin Railway Station. 1/9/2015.

Another train ready to depart for a trip up the Taieri Gorge. 1/9/2015.

Having a good look at the locomotives and rolling stock, I was really impressed by the condition and up keep of the equipment. Good work Dunedin Railways! 

If you're visiting the lower south, make the time to travel on one of Dunedin Railways services or at least pay the station a visit.

And thats about it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Recent travels

Double DC's leading 922 Palmerston - Middleton freight along the East Otago coastline at Katiki. 10/7/15.

Hi everyone

After my last past I took a break from railfanning and put the camera away. Heading out the door the other week I saw the camera sitting there on the shelf and on a whim thought I'd take it along with me. 

Heading through town I saw 922 Palmerston - Middleton freight getting ready to depart the Palmerston yard with a rack of empty 'goldies'. I had some spare time so I decided to follow 922 for a little while. 

I grabbed my first shot at my tried and true spot near Katiki. With only a light load, the DC's at the front had 922 flying. I managed to make the south end of the Hillgrove loop and grab a second shot just as 922 arrived to cross 923. 

922 Palmerston - Middleton freight slows as it approaches the Hillgrove loop to cross 923 Middleton - Dunedin freight. 10/7/15.

Once again I was heading through Palmerston and spotted 922 sitting in the yard. The weather was nice and I had the camera in the car so I grabbed a shot. 

DC4755 and DXB 5137 sitt in the yard at Palmerston with empty 'goldies'. 12/8/2015.

Not much effort for this one but I might not get many more chances. Oceania Gold has announced the closure of their Reefton operations in October which will result in the 'goldies' being no more. So if you can get trackside between Reefton, Christchurch and Palmerston get out there and get your 'goldie' photos while you can.

Heading through Oamaru the other day I decided to pass by Oamaru station to see what was up in this neck of the woods. In the yard I found a blast from the past. A bitumen tanker on the back of a container flat. Now these tankers used to roam throughout the country during the 1990's. For whatever reason this didn't continue into the 2000's. Seeing this in the yard is a good sign. It means Kiwirail is winning back some the traffic it lost in the past.

The tankers are actually ex UC tar tankers that have had their bogies removed. Like I said earlier good to see these on the network again.

Its good to be back.

And thats about it.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


I’ve been a rail fan as long as I can remember. 

When I was a young boy I used to stay at my nana’s house that backed onto the railway yard in Marton. Back in the 1980’s Marton station was a very busy place. As it was a junction, there was always something going on.
Holidays spent in the Hawkes Bay would have me swimming in the Esk River, reading my grandfathers New Zealand Railway Observers cover to cover, over and over and watching trains working their way through the Esk Valley.

As I got older I would cover hundreds of kilometres on my trusty Morrison Sidewinder push bike following the North Island Main Trunk and the Marton – New Plymouth Line. When I got my first car, hundreds of kilometres became thousands as I chased trains across the North Island.

Study, work, family. All these things put rail fanning on the back burner but when I got the chance I would still head out the door to chase New Zealand’s aging GE and EMD locomotives across the countryside. I loved it.

I had some great times and being a rail fan was good fun. But something’s changed...

I don’t know if it’s an age thing but chasing trains just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I would spend hours following local lines looking for a train but now, I don’t even bother looking. Even if I see a train on my daily travels, its ‘oh look’, but the fun has gone.

I’ve thought about how I’ve reached this point. I can tell you now, it’s not because I’m bored of the locomotives, the wagons or carriages. I’m not sick of looking at stations, yards, loops, sidings, bridges, tunnels or crossings. Nor is it the railway staff. I can’t remember ever having a bad experience with the men and women that run our railway.

The answer is politics. Politics have ruined it for me.

Two recent news stories were what did it for me. The first was Kiwirail announcing that they are seriously looking at retiring the EF class electric locomotives and removing the overhead between Palmerston North and Hamilton. Being a North Island lad I’ve grown up with the EF’s and seeing them retire would be like losing a little bit of my childhood.
The Minister of Transport gave the same cop out answer that all government ministers seem to use today - “It’s an operational matter for the organisation” and “No final decision has been made”. What a load of crap!

It’s obvious that the Government is telling the Kiwirail board which is made up of National Party appointees what they want and the board in turn gives the orders to Kiwirail.
As a state owned enterprise, it is in the Governments best interests to support Kiwirail but instead they work against New Zealand’s rail transport provider. As an example look at the introduction of High Productivity Motor Vehicles (HPMV’s) to our roading network. This is a direct attack on the main selling point for rail – the ability to haul a large amount of freight long distances cheaply. Also, I’m no accountant but I’m pretty sure that the road user charges the owners of these vehicles pay wouldn’t cover the additional damage they do to our roads.

The National government responds that they support rail and have invested $4.6 billion in the rail network. I’m sorry; who flogged it off to their mates in the early 1990’s who then stripped it to the bare bones and left a broken system. Yes the New Zealand taxpayer has had to pay $4.6 billion to fix a rail network your mates deliberately wrecked to get rich off.
At the end of the day, the current government has given Kiwirail unrealistic goals to achieve, actively works to help the competition and then expresses its ‘disappointment’ when Kiwirail doesn’t get there. At least give them a chance.

The second news story was of the Chinese workers brought to New Zealand to remove asbestos from the DL locomotives that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
Turns out these poor guys are working for $3 an hour. Kiwirail staff are even bringing them food. Now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has investigated and found no issues. Even the Minister of Employment Relations has come out and said he was “very happy with the circumstances” and that the “allegations had been disproved”. He was happy to say this even though MBIE has admitted that the Chinese locomotive company CNR and the Chinese workers would not provide wage information to them. Remember also that it was this government that introduced legislation that allowed zero hour contracts and the removal of tea breaks.

And that’s why I’m disillusioned. Politics have wrecked rail fanning for me.