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International Railroad Discussion > From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 Weka Pass Railway Edition


Date: 03/15/21 13:26
From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 Weka Pass Railway Edition
Author: NMlurker

After my time in Wellington, I took the Interislander ferry from the North Island to the South Island at Picton. At Picton I boarded one of the last Coastal Pacific trains of the season to travel to Christchurch. There was no real opportunity for photography of this train or of train-related photography from the train en route. Quite surprising to me, there was a heritage steam train operating from Picton to Blenheim that day, the Marlborough Flyer. The Coastal Pacific passes through the area devastated by the November 2016 earthquake and had only recently begun operating again. There was still work going on to repair damage to both the railway and the parallel highway.

I planned my itinerary such that I was in Christchurch on Easter Monday which was a special operating day for the Weka Pass Railway out of Waipara and the nearby ‘Glenmark’ station. There was also a convenient bus service that got me to Waipara with time to spare in the morning and returned back to Christchurch at the end of the day. I also negotiated an exception to the ‘holiday rule’ of one train, round trip only tickets, so I rode up on the first train of the day and back on the second train of the day. This allowed for extra photography of the departing and arriving trains and for a much needed warming lunch of soup in the small town of Waikari.

The Weka Pass Railway operates on a scenic 12.8 km segment of saved trackage from the otherwise abandoned Waiau branch. It rosters both a coal-burning steam locomotive, A 428, built in 1909, and several diesels. On Easter Monday they ran the Cottontail Express behind steam and almost purely for families with children. I was generally a photo line of one although there were chasers along the line. The weather was also not the best, ranging from heavy overcast to light mist, never quite making it to rain.

With my early arrival and having traveled the farthest by far to be there, I was given a much appreciated tour of the facilities and storage buildings.

1. When not using their steam locomotive, Weka Pass uses this beautifully restored English-built Dg-class #791. They also have a second one, #770.

2. Not in service at the time was this Dsa-class #276 (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan).

3. Steam locomotive A 428 and the Cottontail Express alongside the Weka Pass shops prior to moving up to the Glenmark Station.








Date: 03/15/21 13:28
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 Weka Pass Railway Edi
Author: NMlurker

4. Another view of the A 428 and open passenger car.

5. For a fairly small locomotive, the A 428 could put on quite the show. From my photo line of one, the train rounds the corner approaching the Glenmark station.

6. Now running with a considerably cleaner stack, we can see more of the attractive train.








Date: 03/15/21 13:29
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 Weka Pass Railway Edi
Author: NMlurker

7. A vintage scene at the Glenmark station except for the high-tension power lines. There is a distinctive metal water tank and, in the distance, lower-quadrant semaphore signals (not in use).

8. The train board at the station.

9. One of the scenic highlights of the trip is Frog Rock. The maximum grade is 2%.








Date: 03/15/21 13:31
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 Weka Pass Railway Edi
Author: NMlurker

10. The modest station at Waikari. There is a manually-operated turntable here that I somehow did not photograph even though I did observe its operation.

11. The locomotive has been turned and the first train of the day prepares to return to Glenmark (Waipara).

12. Again, from my one-man photo line, trying to stay clear of the electrified fence in the wet grass, the first train of the day departs Waikara in a cloud of steam.








Date: 03/15/21 13:33
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 Weka Pass Railway Edi
Author: NMlurker

13. And one lunch later, the second train of the day arrives at Waikari. You can see just a bit of the turntable at the lower, left. I did appreciate the fall colors.

14. Now onboard the train for the return trip to Glenmark station in the open car at the rear of the train. To save time, they opted to return with the locomotive running tender first.

15. Leaving the siding at Waikari.








Date: 03/15/21 13:34
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 Weka Pass Railway Edi
Author: NMlurker

16. Almost hard to believe I am actually on the train in this photograph. The locomotive had an easy time drifting downgrade.

17. Back at Glenmark station, the locomotive has run around the train in preparation of backing down to the shop area.

18. A final view of the train looking nominally southeastward down the mainline.








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