Monday, November 22, 2010

A day at Marton Junction

The mid and late 1990's was a good time to be a young railfan in Marton.
During the summer holidays, I would cycle down to the junction on my trusty morrison sidewinder for a day of railfanning. Most of the day was spent waiting for trains, watching the CTC signals hoping they would come up indicating a train was on its way. But then there was the times of high excitement when a train would pass through or the TR would do some shunting. Good times.

DX 5448 in its new Tranz Rail paint waits at Marton with the northbound Overlander while the last few passengers hop aboard.

I'd try and arrive at the junction around 11am to catch the northbound Wellington - Auckland Overlander passenger train. I would position myself at the southern end of the platform. This spot gave me a clear view of the main trunk down to Greatford. Seeing the headlights of the approaching train I would make my way up the platform to catch its arrival in Marton, hoping to see a diesel on the front.
Sometimes my luck was in and a DX would be allocated to the Overlander for the day. Always a good catch when every main trunk train I used to see would be EF hauled.
After the passengers were aboard, a short blast of the horn and the DX would wind up as it continued its trip north.

Marton Railway Station with trusty morrison bike.

With the Overlander away, it was time to explore the yard and its buildings. I'd normally have a look around the station and try and imagine what the station was like when it was fully manned and busy instead of being boarded up

Marton locomotive shed

I'd then head down to the disused locomotive shed. I've always had a soft spot for this building but I don't really know why. Like the station it would have been good to see it in its heyday.

Hautuma Lime 'screwdozer'.

During the spring, Hautuma lime was one of the biggest rail users in Marton. Its sidings would be full of LPF 4 wheel highside fertiliser wagons. It was pretty rare that you could get a clear shot of the innovative 'screwdozer' fertilser unloader without a bunch of LPF's in front of it. Must of been a weekend when I got the photo above.

Weigh station with container gantry in the background.

I always tried to get shots of the different buildings around the Marton yard. Even as a teenager, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before most of these buildings would be demolished. Lookling back I'm glad I did. The weigh station and locomotive shed have been demolished and 'screwdozers' also gone after Tranz Rail stopped using LPF's for fertiliser traffic.

LPF 281

By now it was mid afternoon. After finishing poking around the yard, I'd have a look at any rolling stock in the yard. Normally the only thing in the yard would be the TR and empty LPF's. The LPF's were used solely on the lime run between Hautuma in Central Hawkes Bay and Marton.

Hillside TR 966

Hillside TR 966

Around 3pm, 966 would head down the long siding to the Canterbury Malting Comapny to pick up UK's with grain containers. It was always good to see 966 struggle up the steep piece of track leading up the east yard with a decent load.
Sorting out the UK's, 966 would head up to Hautuma and come back with a long rack of empty LPF's. 966 would then put the racks together ready for the shunt service from Palmerston North.

DA 1471

During the mid 1990's, the normal shunt locomotive from Palmerston North was heritage DA 1471. Arriving light engine, the shunter would open up the loop / yard points and slowly enter the east yard. After coupling up to the rack of UK's and LPF's, the crew would do some paperwork before slowly leaving the yard. after a short wait at the eastern loop departure signal, the shunt would get a green light and begin its trip back to Palmerston North.

EF 30163 and a southbound Overlander

The ringing of level crossing bells and an urgent blast on the horn would announce the arrival of the southbound Overlander. Coming to a smooth stop, the train manager would complete the station work before giving the driver a wave and radio call. With another blast of the horn, the driver would notch up for a quick departure. A wave from the driver and the southbound Overlander would be gone and with that my day at the junction would be at an end.

Looking back it wasn't a bad way to spend my school holidays. Good times.

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