Saturday, 24 July 2010

Early Years of the Weka Pass Railway – Part 12 : 1989 (A)

Please note that this blog is a personal journal and does not purport to be officially representative of the Weka Pass Railway in any way. Many photos in this article are undated, partly because the negatives in some cases were not developed for 10 or more years.
1989 offered most railway societies a chance to get back to their own thing after the hectic pace of the Ferrymead 125 event, or to consolidate on the opportunities that the inter-society cooperation of the festival offered. This was certainly true of the Weka Pass Railway. During the year they continued to make progress in key areas of projects that had been underway in prior years. 1989 was also the first year since 1983 when a steam locomotive from the Ferrymead Railway visited the WPR. C 864 was used to run trains on the line in conjunction with the National Federation of Rail Societies' annual conference at Waipara. In November, Mainline Steam Trust's J 1211 also operated trains on the Railway. However the Society did not run its annual excursion to Arthur's Pass as in previous years, citing declining profitability in the face of increased NZR charges for these trains. Public trains ran at Easter on the Railway as they had in previous years.
On the track front, recovery work continued throughout the year between Waikari and Medbury. Work camps were held during the year to help in this effort. The level crossings at Princess Street, Waikari, and Hawarden station, were removed by the Hurunui District Council. This was not a major obstacle as there had never been any real prospect of recovering the line by rail based means. Track rehabilitation on the main line achieved the opening of the Railway to the 6.5 km peg by the year's end.
As noted the Railway was visited during the year by two steam locomotives, C 864 and J 1211. The boiler of A 428 was also taken to Belfast for sandblasting, and transported to Scotts Engineering of Christchurch for inspection and restoration. During the year the Railway purchased a 10 ton diesel crane from NZR and brought it into service. 1989 also saw the public debut of the Plasser 04 tamper which worked on several sections of the main line. This was actually the highlight of the tamper’s short WPR career.
Other events during 1989 included the purchase of semaphore signals from Amberley and Waipara, work begun on the toilet block at Glenmark station, purchase of a URT wagon and overhaul of the works EA 65 wagon for trackwork, a telephone exchange installed for train control use, the purchase of the Rotherham Station building, installation of the dock road at Glenmark, purchase of a turntable, hosting of the NFRS conference, and completion of various facilities in Glenmark station.
1989. The works wagon at Glenmark as the train is prepared for another day’s work. One half of the wagon stores equipment and fittings while the other half is a lunchroom complete with pot belly stove. Its purchase marked a major step forward in providing for crew comfort during workdays on the line.
1989. The Glenmark station development is progressing well with the annex built onto the station (which houses the train control equipment). The platform has been filled with gravel – sealing would come at a later date.
1989. TR 275 was towed up from Christchurch and used for a time before being taken by road to Nelson for use by the Nelson Railway Society (then called the Grand Tapawera Railroad Co).
1989. C 864 operates a passenger train approaching No.1 Gate during the Federation conference.
1989. A rake of old guards vans are seen in the Waipara public siding. I believe these vans went to the Waipara Sleepers holiday park nearby although their website states theirs arrived in 1993.
1989. Track removal works north of Hawarden with rails waiting to be recovered. The gangers shed to the right was also removed and is now in use somewhere in the Weka Pass.
1989. Ballasting up the line in one of the many cuttings after track repairs.
1989. The same cutting showing the Plasser 04 tamper at work. The tamper did some great work when it was running but its operation was very sporadic due to numerous breakdowns. On this occasion or another when I was present the radiator hoses burst resulting in a “dead” gravity-assisted trip back to Glenmark.
1989. The tamper at work. The tines are in the lowered position tamping under the track. Gary Kelly is profiling ballast on the far side. Operating the machine (when it worked) was as simple as positioning directly over a sleeper and pushing a button to initiate the automatic tamping cycle in which the built in jacks lifted the track a predetermined amount and the ballast was then tamped under the sleepers. The trolley on the long arm in front (see previous picture) was used to
measure the level of the track (and thus the amount of lift needed).
1989. Looking north from the Hawarden station yard, we can see the level crossing that was removed by the Hurunui District Council. Most of the yard sidings were still in place and the site was being used as a collection point for the lifted track.

1989. Track removal work in progress just north of Hawarden, looking south.
1989. At the north of the Hawarden yard, one of the tracks that formerly crossed the road is still in place under a stack of rail.
1989. The main line and most of the siding track is still in place at the south end of the Hawarden yard (except for the backshunt, which was removed in 1985).