Friday 8th November 2013.
We have added photos to our Gallery page covering the October trip to the 150 Celebrations in Christchurch. Over the next week we will be adding more photos so check back from time to time to see whats new.
Saturday 12th October.The KiwiRail 150 celebrations move to Wellington today with a display at Wellington Railway Station. Mainline Steam is contributing Ab663, Ew1805 and Aa1013. They will be joining equipment from KiwiRail, Silverstream Railway and Steam Incorporated. f you are in the Wellington area it would be great to see you at the exhibition.
Sunday 29th September Ja1275 will be on display at the Strand Station in Auckland as part of the KiwiRail 150 Display. There will also be a DL and the AK cars as well as various other displays. Starts at 10am and closes at 4pm.
September 4th 2013.
The Story of Mainline Steam. NOW AVAILABLE.
This is the history of Mainline Steam from its inception by Ian Welch, through to today. Its 90 pages traces the history of the locomotives currently operated by Mainline Steam, and those waiting to be restored. Ian Welch openly discusses his reasons for starting the organisation, his highs and lows and his love of rail and hopes for the future. This is the most comprehensive history ever written of one of New Zealand’s leading preservation organisations.
Don’t miss your chance to obtain a copy of this entertaining and fascinating read. An order form is available here.
July 25th 2013.
Ja1275 will be running a special train to celebrate the launch of Rail Safety Week on the 12th of August. The train will run from the Strand via the waterfront to Otahuhu and then back through Newmarket to the Strand. Departure from the Strand is set down for 11:35am. You may also like to see this website.
July 7th 2013.
A very successful Main Trunk Trekker excursion yesterday. Thank you to all the Mainline Steam crew who worked on the train. Thank you also to KiwiRail crews who ran the locomotive. Ja1275 performed well throughout the day. Some photos of the excursion are available here.
June 27th 2013.
Ka942 has been transferred to the South Island and by tonight should be in the shed at our Christchurch Depot. It will be operating our Arthurs Pass and Greymouth trips this year.
May 30th 2013.
We have had an number of inquiries regarding J1211 and why aren't we running it. Well 1211 is currently in Auckland because during one of our inspections last year we discovered some thin spots in the crown sheet. Closer physical inspection has now shown the entire crown sheet need replacing. Unfortunately this means we have to remove the boiler from the locomotive frame and take out the fire box. Once that is done we can completely cut out the crown sheet and have a new one fabricated and welded back in. The photo to the left is taken between the crown sheet (bottom of picture) and the outer shell. A view you don't often get. You can see the stays, some have been cut off, that seperate the firebox from the outer boiler. When the locomotive is operating this space is full of water.
April 15th 2013.
Ja1240 returned to its home base at Parnell on Friday 12th. In tow on a wagon was our Bagnall locomotive which had been out at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway for several months and operated at a number of their Thomas weekends. Ja1240 will be operated on the Kaipara Cannonball on the 12th of May to Helensville. This will be the first time the loco will have been north of Auckland.
March 22nd 2013.
Ja1240 will be running at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway Steam Festival this weekend. On the 6th of April it will head an excursion to Te Kuiti. On the 12th of April it will return to our Depot in Parnell. Departing GVR at 11am and running via Newmarket to Parnell. It now looks likely that it will be used on our Kaipara Cannonball trip to Helensville on the 12th of May.
January 22nd 2013.
Mainline Steam is pleased to announce the appointment of Stuart Walker as a new Trustee and General Manager of the Mainline Steam Heritage Trust. Stuart will be taking up this role as of today. Full details of this appointment can be found here.
January 21st 2013.
Over Auckland Anniversary Weekend 26th, 27th, 28th January Ja1240 will be operating on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway double heading with Ja1250.
December 21st 2012.
Mainline Steam's Depots will be closed from the 21st December 2012 until the 14th January 2013. Watch the excursion page for 2013 excursions appearing in the New Year.
December 4th 2012.
Here are some videos you may enjoy watching over the holidays.
Ka942 out of Dunedin.
Ab663 Feilding to Taihape.
Tour Train scenes.
November 24th 2012.
By Bill Krippner
The Waikato Explorer went well with Ja1240 putting on a great show for its first mainline excursion. This was also a joint trip with the Railway Enthusiasts Society and we used their carriage fleet for the trip. The fact that this trip went so well probably means that we will do further trips together in the future. Thank you to all the volunteers and the KiwiRail staff that made this a great day out. Below is a short poem penned by one of our members.
Waikato Explorer 2012 - Tuakau Bank
Up the bank we went that night,
1240 running fine.
The problems with injectors,
seem long ago behind.
Dave Simo was the fire pro, His fire set so bright.
Keith checks from the drivers side, and get the nod - she's right.
Keith pulls on the lever, The loco starts to sing.
The speed ticking up the marks, Steam beats the grade does ping.
Up we charge into the night, The words cannot express.
The speed, the skill, the poetry, To see a team at test.
More coal Dave sets into the box, Cab flashes every swing.
Keith watches up ahead,
Check track, his mate, steam ring.
50 years of skill in charge, This crew put on the floor.
To see skill work, experience shown, Is concert shown and more.
Up the bank the loco pulled, The ears they started ringing.
Coal in the fire, steam out the stack, The loco she was singing.
Oh what a night, the train behind, It comes to an end.
Keith signal mate, he shuts it off,
Dave nods and sets and tends.
Into Puk so we glide,
Rails smooth, clear and shiny.
Keith said to me, how was that Bill, All I could say was “Blimey”!
To home they went Crew loco, passengers and team.
Our thanks we gave, so small it seemed, to the spectacle we had seen.
To see again I do not know, the face that says it all.
To watch the pro's hand hard at work, is a memory set recall.
Dedicated to Grant Hjorth and the Mainline team
October 29th 2012.
It is with deep sadness and a very heavy heart that we announce the passing of Grant Hjorth, aged 49. Grant was a mainstay of Mainline Steam and was not only a Trustee but also the Chief Mechanical Officer and General Manager.
Grant also served on the Heritage Technical Committee and his expertise and advice in all matters regarding the restoration and operation of steam locomotives was widely sought by many organisations. He was always willing to use his knowledge and expertise to assist any organisation involved in Heritage Rail preservation and has played a huge part in bringing rail preservation up to the high standard we all see and enjoy today.
Grant has been with Mainline Steam since he was a teenager and has worked tirelessly with Ian Welch to grow the organisation to the one we see and enjoy today. Grant was passionate in his belief that if we are going to spend time and money preserving rail heritage then it needs to be to a high standard and be operating, not dead in a museum, to show off the full glory of steam to generations which never had the opportunity to see steam in action. His legacy is seen in the faces of children, and adults, who look in awe at the locomotives as they thunder along the line in all their glory.
Grant’s passing will leave a huge hole, not only in Mainline Steam, but the heritage movement as a whole. But even though we find his passing incomprehensible and devastating it is many times more so for his wife and daughter, who he adored and who adored him. We all share in their grief and offer them our support through this terrible time.
October 2nd 2012.
We received the email today regarding the Napier - Gisborne line. It means that our excursion on the line on the 28th October could be the last steam hauled excursion on the line. There are still some seats left but you need to get your booking in. http://www.mainlinesteam.co.nz/documents/naplinefrm.pdf
From: Jim Quinn
Sent: Tuesday, 2 October 2012 12:01 p.m.
Subject: Napier Gisborne Line
You will be aware that we have been reviewing the commercial viability of the Napier-Gisborne line for some time and that the line has been closed since March after it was extensively damaged by a storm. Reinstatement of the storm damage was expected to cost around $4 million and would have taken several months to complete.
In addition, costs to maintain the rail track and structures along it, such as bridges, are likely to rise significantly in coming years. Currently we spend around $2 million a year to maintain the track in a fit for purpose condition. However this would need to increase to around $6 million a year to support any increased level of service. Additionally several bridges along the route are nearing the end of their expected life and would need replacing over the next 10 years.
Based on the information we gathered around future business opportunities and the work we carried out to determine the costs to repair the storm damage, we have decided the line will be mothballed, and all rail operations on the line, including the section from Napier to Wairoa, will cease. I expect Napier to Wairoa will cease operation within the next 6 weeks.
We acknowledge the support given by the local businesses and the wider community for retaining rail to the region and that there had been an upturn in volumes carried on the line in the months prior to March. However that growth fell well short of making the line financially sustainable.
As you all know with limited available funding we need to ensure we invest in areas of the network where we are able to grow business to a level it is commercially sustainable.
There will be some staff affected by this decision and we will now commence consultation with them alongside the union.
We recognise the strategic importance of maintaining the option to reinstate the line, should appropriate opportunities arise in the future. Mothballing the line, rather than closing it preserves that option.
We will continue to monitor business opportunities in the region so we can respond if anything changes.
September 29th 2012.
Ja1240 was moved to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway today. It was in steam and accompanied by Ja1275 which returned to Parnell. While at Glenbrook 1240 will undertake break in running before heading out on its first excursion which we expect will be at the end of November. Today's move with 1240 in steam was the first time Ja1240 has been in steam on the New Zealand Rail Network since it was retired in November 1971.
September 26th 2012.
Today Ja1240 passed another milestone in its return to service and has been registered to operate on the New Zealand Rail Network. Our next step is to take it out to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway for some break in running. This is scheduled to happen on Saturday the 29th of September when it will travel there in steam in the company of Ja1275. Scheduled departure from Parnell is 10:30am. The locomotives will run via the waterfront and Glen Innes.
September 20th 2012.
Check out the Dunedin Steam Festival.
September 10th 2012.
Footage from our Midland Mountaineer trip to Greymouth appeared on TV3 last night. You can see it here. The trip went extremely well despite the wet weather on the coast. thank you to those who wrote in to tell us what a great time they had. Thank you also goes to the MLS Christchurch team for their hard work and to the KiwiRail crew for their efforts in making the weekend a success.
August 30th 2012.
Ja1240 has passed it's steam boiler test this afternoon. This is a big step in seeing it back on the mainline. Tomorrow it will have its external mechanical inspection. Our plan is to keep 1240 in Auckland in the meantime, and then in 2013 do a delivery excursion from Auckland to Christchurch. Once we have completed the necessary inspections we will move Ja1240 to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway where it will undertake break in running and testing, as well as, operate some of their Sunday steam trips over their line. Watch this space.
August 22nd 2012.
We have been running a series of trips over the last couple of months from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass and return. These have proved popular so we have added an extra trip on Sunday 9th September. If you would like to see some photos from the trips already operated please see this album on our photo pages.
August 9th 2012.
The restoration of Ja1240 is making great progress. See how much in this video shot this evening.
July 20th 2012.
News from around the depots.
The winter excursion season has started in Christchurch with the transfer of Ka942 from Wellington. The first trip to Arthurs Pass was on the 8th of July and was a sell out as is the one on the 22nd of July. We have two more trips, one on the 5th of August and one on the 19th August. These are both filling fast. In September the Christchurch team will be involved in the popular 2 day trip to Greymouth and back.In other news the boiler of Ja1256 has been gifted to Mainline Steam by Brian and Ann Gargiulo. It will be placed in secure storage and kept in case we ever need to replace the boiler on one of our existing locomotives. There has also been a reasonable amount of infrastructure work around the depot with an extra track being laid and a window fitted to the lunch room.Thank you to KB Contracting and Morgan and Pollard Landscapes for their help.
The major job at the Wellington Depot is the reconstruction work on the BR carriages. However time has been found to fit a new pantograph to the Ew and to finally start one of the Dj's that has been undergoing overhaul. To of the Wellington reps also accompanied Ka942 on it's journey from Plimmerton to Christchurch.
The main focus has been on Ja1240. It is pleasing to report that on the 19th July 1240 was steamed and moved under it's own power for the first time since it was retired in 1971. The overhaul process has taken 5 years and there were many smiling faces when the throttle was opened and the locomotive rolled under its own power. There are some videos here and here. There is still work to be done but all the major components worked and it is now more weeks than months until it is fully operational.
July 2nd 2012.
Ka942 is going to be transferred to Christchurch for the winter excursion season. It is due to move from Wellington to Picton on July 4th and then on the 5th it will be towed in train 729 from Picton to Christchurch arriving about 1800. If you are going out to photograph the move please do so from public property.
May 14th 2012.
We have been working away on several projects whilst we don't have an operational mainline loco here, Ray and Chris, with assistance from others have been working on the raising and leveling of road 4, this has involved lifting the track sets and digging out the soil and clay that roads 4 and 5 are sitting on and back filling and compacting with base coarse, it is almost ready for the track sets to be re-laid, this job has been held up at times by the weather as water lies like you wouldn't believe on that side of the shed.
Another job that has been done in conjunction with this is the fitting of guttering on the Lunns Road side of our shed, this means less flooding and water lying around roads 4 and 5, we have been donated downpipes and the base coarse for these projects which reduced the costs enormously, a big thank you to our sponsors here.
Our lunchroom is coming along nicely, cupboard doors have been made and fitted by Ray Scott, Ray also constructed a shelf unit to house our library collection, the notice board is being improved and we hope to have the room painted in the near future.
A start has been made on assessing our coal tubs for use, two of these require the replacement of steel from the hinges down whilst all bar one require new bottoms fitted, also our Hiab is being checked over, a crack has been repaired in the telescopic arm socket and the motor awaits compression testing and a few minor jobs before refitting to the wagon, also on the subject of Urk 66 Michael Hobbs is replacing the longitudinal channels in the tank, most of these had corroded away to nothing.
We recently had a scrap drive and tidied up a lot of our site, 3 truckloads went away, our excavator has had some new pins and bushes fitted along with a new throttle assembly, it now operates at full throttle and the controls work as they should, other work around the shed has seen the fitting of a replacement security light at the east end and the steam cleaner now works as it should thanks to the assistance of Mike Wilcox.
Kb work has not been forgotten, the brake gear has been refitted to the tender as have the policemen, and rear draw gear, side chains etc, timber for the tank runners is on order and should be on hand shortly, the tender body work continues with oversize holes being welded and reamed to the correct size for riveting, Mike Tobin's skills are proving very handy for this type of project, under Paul Markholm’s guidance Mike won't run out of jobs for some time to come, I would like to welcome Alister Hyde to our team, Alister is a fan of 968 and being a painter by trade has taken on the job of removing the paint on the tender with assistance of Dick Clayton and anybody else who may be around at the time.
We now have a stand to hang our coupling hooks/bull hooks and kidney links, this has been placed between roads 1 and 2 at the south end of the shed, please use this as it keeps our work areas free of hooks lying in odd places, it is painted yellow so you won't miss it!
Although it seems as if little progress has been made on the transforming ex-Virgin/British Railway carriages we can report that Matt has completed wiring up the first class car and is now working through the other three second class cars to ensure that such functions as door closing and step indicating circuits all operate in the same way. This will eliminate the need to check each carriage that all doors are secured and the steps tucked away as warning lights on the sides of the carriages will indicate if both doors and steps are not secure so that the guard can remedy the situation before giving the “right away.” This may seem a simple task but the circuits need to take into account that the steps need to be tucked away where there is a platform so that the carriages do not foul the loading gauge while the doors operate as normal. There has been a change to the order of restoration with the fourth second class carriage being sidelined in favour of an additional first class car BR 3209. While like all the other carriages the interior is in reasonable condition the exterior has suffered from the UK conditions and Zac is starting on the task of repairing the ends and doors which in parts are badly corroded.
One problem that has continued to dog the restoration has been two attacks by graffiti ‘artists’ the first over Christmas and the second in February. The first attack was more a tagging episode and fortunately the perpetrator left enough clues that the police were later able to apprehend the tagger. The second was more serious as it involved two of the carriages. Despite being stored close to the shed and on the far side from the Plimmerton Railway Station the carriages can be seen from the garden centre and for the vandals that is sufficient for them to indulge their pastime. Once again Graham and Blake had to tackle the painstaking time consuming task to clean off the graffiti. Fortunately this time the paint work itself was not damaged although parts of the white vinyl stripe still has an orange tinge where the remover could not complete the task.
Our wooden carriage AA1013 was woken from its slumber in February where with KA942 it was displayed at the Hutt Workshop’s open day. As usual it was openly admired by many people who took time to walk through it, especially those of a more mature age who could remember travelling in similar carriages to school or on holiday. All remarked that they wished they had experienced such travel in the comfort of AA1013 as most could remember just the hard seats and wore torn carriages of yesteryear.
Ka942 was twice woken from its slumber this year, the first for its annual boiler inspection and then the second for the trip to the Hutt Workshops. Some maintenance work was required to maintain it in tip top condition, the first being the refurbishment of an injector valve and the second the refurbishment of the front end throttle valves. Ab663 was also woken from its slumber for the annual boiler inspection and stands ready for any assignment that may come up in the future.
The ten year re-certification of Jb1236 has started with the opening up of the smoke box and the removal of the tubes by Mike and Vic.
Track work and Grounds.
With space being at a premium work has commenced on laying a track at the south end of the yard where it is planned to store excess rolling stock. The first step has been to erect a new fence with shade cloth to partially hide the rolling stock from view. This has been completed and track sets are now being laid. Stage two will be to consolidate the balance of the area and construct a three-way point so that more of the rolling stock can be stored to free up space in the main yard.
Apart from pressing on with the BR carriages and the extension of the track at the south of the depot, work will continue on the overhaul of Jb1236.
May 11th 2012.
John Kelly, one of our Auckland members, has supplied us with some video taken during and Open Weekend at our Parnell Depot in early 1997. It is an interesting of our history and shows the GMAM Garrett in steam. I have posted it to You Tube here.
March 26th 2012.
The Kaipara Cannonball excursion to Helensville yesterday went very well. The heavy morning rain had cleared by the time the first passenger pick up was done at Ellerslie and the sun shone for the rest of the day. At Helensville there was an excellent variety of stalls at the Market Day around the station and the local takeaways and bakeries did a roaring trade. A large line of children and adults formed to look through the cab of Ja1275. Many people also took the opportunity to have a photo taken in front of the locomotive. On the homeward journey a photo run was done at Huapai.
If you missed out on this trip our next one is the Sunday Lunch on the 29th April. See the excursion page for details.
The photo to the left shows Ja1275 leading the train down through the curves towards Waitakere on the way to Helensville. Some photos from the day are available here.
March 13th 2012.
It has been a while since the last news update and we apologise for that. So what has been happening?
At the end of the November tour Jb1236 was moved from Christchurch to Wellington for its 10 year boiler survey. It is currently having a number of tubes replaced. In Auckland Ja1240 is proving more difficult than expected to overhaul. The replacement of one of the cylinder liners is proving troublesome and unfortunately the pressure of outside work, which helps pay the bills, is delaying work on 1240.
The New Zealand Steam Tour in November went well and there are a lot of great photos here. We are well under way with the October 2012 Steam Tour with bookings already coming in. This year we are returning to Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill. A full Itinerary is available here along with pricing.
In February we operated our Northlander excursion over the scenic North Auckland Line to Whangarei. All went well on the way north but on the return journey our speed was restricted due to concerns over the possibility of track buckles due to the heat. Then at Wellsford the KiwiRail power generator shut down just as it was getting dark. Attempts to restart it proved unsuccessful and closer inspection discovered a split fuel line which couldn't be repaired. Fortunately the emergency lights in the carriages cut in and we, at least, had light back to Auckland with the last batteries failing just as we pushed the carriages into storage at the Tranz Scenic Depot at Otahuhu after dropping the last of the passengers at Ellerslie. Overall it was a good day out with a couple of photo runs on the way north giving the passengers a chance to see Ja1275 in action. There are some photos here.
Over the Christmas period major track work took place on the line adjacent our Auckland Depot. The gradient was altered in preparation for the placement of the new station. The work also involved moving out mainline connection further down the hill.
The team in Wellington have been working on the new carriages and progress is being made with them. Unfortunately the Wellington Depot suffered a couple of major graffiti attacks earlier in the year. We are pleased to report that the Police did manage to identify and apprehend the offender.
In Christchurch they are busy rebuilding the tender of the Kb. It is starting to show signs of real progress. Once it is completed work will begin in earnest on the locomotive.