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International Railroad Discussion > From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition


Date: 03/17/21 12:53
From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: NMlurker

Often listed as one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world, the TranzAlpine runs daily between Christchurch and Greymouth and return on the South Island. Between these two cities are the Southern Alps with the summit at Arthur’s Pass and the 5.3 mile long Otira tunnel which is built with a 3% grade downhill to the west. During the steam era the tunnel was electrified and electrification lasted until the 1990s! In the current era it is a helper district, pushers on the uphill and whatever the opposite of pushers are on the downhill. Transit time through the Otira tunnel was 17 minutes downhill, 14 minutes uphill. There are a total of fourteen tunnels and many bridges.

Freight traffic on this line consists of export coal, timber, and container traffic. The coal loads at Stillwater. An older mine north of Greymouth is not currently active.

All images are from April 23rd and 24th, 2019.

1. The westbound TranzAlpine loads passengers at the Addington Station in Christchurch. This modern station is located on one leg of the wye where the coastal line from Picton meets the east-west line between Christchurch and Greymouth.

2. The day’s train is powered by two rebuilt GE U26Cs both in the current Kiwi Rail scheme. Here is DXC-class #5287.

3. And here is the lead DXC-class #5483.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/17/21 14:37 by NMlurker.








Date: 03/17/21 12:54
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: NMlurker

At Arthur’s Pass we were allowed (required?) to leave the train while four locomotives were added to the rear of the train to provide [I assume] dynamic braking assistance for the train down the 3% grade through the Otira tunnel. I cannot say that I have ever seen the use of the opposite of pushers on a downhill grade.

4. After the TranzAlpine stopped in Arthur’s Pass and passengers were allowed to detrain, the not-pushers approach the rear of the train on the mainline.

5. The four U26Cs prepare to couple to the TranzAlpine at Arthur’s Pass. DXC-class #5264 will be seen again the following day as the single helper uphill through the tunnel.

6. The sign marking Arthur’s Pass, named for explorer Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson.








Date: 03/17/21 12:56
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: NMlurker

7. The eastbound TranzAlpine is at the station in Greymouth preparing for the return trip to Christchurch. DXC-class #5287 is now the lead unit.

8. The train is seen making an on-time departure from Greymouth and crossing one of the main roads into town.

9. A going away shot of the power on a perfect day in Greymouth.








Date: 03/17/21 12:57
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: NMlurker

10. And a going away shot of the train as a whole. Unfortunately, the open air cars were not accessible at the time (this train had two of them).

11. The following day the TranzAlpine makes an early arrival in Greymouth led by DXB-class #5293 in an older, and based on my experience (I only saw one DXB-class), rare Kiwi Rail scheme. The second locomotive is DXC-class #5517. The track at the left crosses the Grey River on a now-concrete curved bridge that was for the longest time a famous S-shaped wooden bridge, one section of which was preserved nearby. That line served a coal mine that I do not believe is active.

12. Back at Arthur’s Pass, our train had a single U26C, DXC-class #5264, as a pusher up through the Otira tunnel.








Date: 03/17/21 13:58
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: jmhemmer

Thank you for posting these excellent and colorful photographs.  Better than mine. 

When I rode the TranzAlpine in November 2019, the train was not running west of Arthur's Pass due to a substantial landslide near Greymouth.  A bus substitute was provided, but hiking in Arthur's Pass seemed more rewarding.  We had access to the open-air cars throughout the rail trip.  A train crew member said they were normally closed through the tunnel due to diesel fumes.  



Date: 03/17/21 17:56
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: NDHolmes

Very much enjoying the KiwiRail stuff.  Please all you NZ fans, keep posting away.

Once the world gets back to semi-normal travel, going back to NZ for a month is probably #1 on my list.  Assuming that won't be until at least 2022, it'll be 30 years since I set foot on either island.  Here's the TranzAlpine lead by DC class 4496 getting ready to leave Greymouth in July 1992. 

Is there a good KiwiRail equipment roster out there, either online or as a book?  I haven't really found much.  Much has changed with those DLs running around now and much of the older power I saw in the 1992s scrapped or sold.  At least I see the EFs on the NIMT have gotten some reprieve and I might actually get to see one in action.

 




Date: 03/17/21 18:16
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: NMlurker

NDHolmes Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Is there a good KiwiRail equipment roster out
> there, either online or as a book?  I haven't
> really found much.  Much has changed with those
> DLs running around now and much of the older power
> I saw in the 1992s scrapped or sold.  At least I
> see the EFs on the NIMT have gotten some reprieve
> and I might actually get to see one in action.
>
>
I heartily endorse the second edition of New Zealand Railway Motive Power by David Parsons published in 2018 (84 pages). It is quite thorough. It cost me NZ$49 and I bought it in person at the offices of the New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society in Petone, Lower Hutt, near Wellington. Shipping would have been rather expensive. Contact info:  nzrls@actrix.co.nz   https://railsoc.org.nz




Date: 03/17/21 21:34
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: SP4360

Pushers and feet draggers


"Often listed as one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world, the TranzAlpine runs daily between Christchurch and Greymouth and return on the South Island. Between these two cities are the Southern Alps with the summit at Arthur’s Pass and the 5.3 mile long Otira tunnel which is built with a 3% grade downhill to the west. During the steam era the tunnel was electrified and electrification lasted until the 1990s! In the current era it is a helper district, pushers on the uphill and whatever the opposite of pushers are on the downhill. Transit time through the Otira tunnel was 17 minutes downhill, 14 minutes uphill. There are a total of fourteen tunnels and many bridges".

Nice coverage, gotta get down there some year soon.



Date: 03/18/21 15:13
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: kurtarmbruster

That paint scheme makes me grimmace. The lands down under just--well, never mind!



Date: 03/19/21 12:58
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: Train29

I rode the train in 2010. The open air car was a real bonus. Amtrak please note as related to PV open platforms. 



Date: 03/22/21 06:26
Re: From the Before Time: New Zealand 2019 TranzAlpine Edition
Author: thebluecomet

I would hazard a guess and say the "helpers" on the downhill would be placed there to reduce brake shoe smoke and hazardous fumes through the tunnel.  Excellent story and photos.  Thank you.



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