Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rusty Rails Revisited

During mid Feburary, members of the nz-rail-geography yahoo group travelled around Otago and Southland chasing trains on the operating lines and having a close look at the ghost branches of the past on their annual Rusty Rails expedition.
I wasn't able to get away for the week but I was able to spend a day with the boys as we chased a Taieri Gorge Railway cruise ship special.
Leaving Palmerston early Monday morning we headed south into Dunedin and then along the Main South Line to Port Chalmers. After some coffee and planning we ended up at Sawyers Bay, the junction for the Port Chalmers branch.
After a bit of a wait, the special passed through the 313m Blanket Bay tunnel and Sawyers Bay yard before leaving the MSL and heading down into Port Chalmers.

TGR DJ 3286 and DJ 3211 lead the cruise ship special through Sawyers Bay. 15/02/10.

After following the special into Port Chalmers and watching the it load up with a decent load of passengers. The sun wasn't playing the game and all the shots I got at the port weren't that flash. After the boys had a good look around we headed back south down the MSL to a favourite spot of mine, the Blanket Bay causeway. Always a great place to capture a train, today was no different.

With DJ 3211 on point, the Cruise Ship special heads south on the MSL. 15/02/10.

The road from Port Chalmers to Dunedin can get pretty congested in the morning and we had no hope of getting in front of the special before it got to Dunedin railway station.
After some more discussion, the decision was made to head to Wingatui, the junction between the MSL and the Otago Central Branch and then up the branch to Hindon.
Wingatui is one of my favourite places on the New Zealand rail network and I was looking forward to seeing another TGR train pass through and onto the OCB.
Here the sun played its tricks again and any shot of the southbound TGR train was a write off.
After the train had departed Wingatui, we began our drive to Hindon.
The road to Hindon isn't the greatest and some of the gravel parts are pretty hairy. I have to take my hat off to Steve Watts. Very good driving on a difficult road (must have been the great advice from the back seat drivers).
The TGR is world renowned for its scenery, tunnels and viaducts. Luckily my shot of the special exiting the 66m Ross Point tunnel and crossing the Taieri River viaduct captured all three features.

The cruise ship special crosses the Taieri River viaduct. 15/02/10.

After having a look around the Hindon yard we headed back to Wingatui. It was here that I farewelled the boys as they continued their expedition south.

DJ hauled trains, good photo spots and a great bunch of guys. What a way to spend a day off.

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