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Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
See also John Raby's blogs at www.rabylee.uk/linesidingindex.html


Monday, August 8, 2016

Kolkata 6-7 March

Plinthed in a small enclosure opposite Howrah station was 2ft 6in gauge Bagnall 0-6-4T AK 6 (2021 of  1916) ex Ahmadpur-Katwa Railway
Kolkata was hot, humid, busy, and a little smoggy.
Acclimatisation for the early arrivals included a visit to the famous Howrah station, across the Hooghly River from the CBD, and a ride back on the ferry.

The huge Howrah station from across the Hooghly River
We made acquaintance with some of the residents of Howrah Station, a very busy suburban terminus.
The Howrah bridge, similar in length to Brisbane's Story bridge, dominates the scene
Ablutions on the western bank

The next day the entire party rode a chartered tram from the central tram station in the heart of Kolkata. This is the last tram system left in India.
Articulated tram at Dalhouise Square
Goat herding at the central tram station

We also took a city walk. Kolkata is definitely a city of the Raj, with many fine Victorian buildings of which a good proportion are in a parlous state of repair.
The distinctive yellow Kolkata taxis in a gracious city street. The Hindustan Ambassador, based on the Morris Oxford, only went out of production in 2014.

Kolkata is a busy commercial hub.
Final port of call for the day was the Indian Railways East Regional Railway Museum just south of Howrah station, which was well worth a visit. There is a capacious display hall and a jolly pleasure railway, but the majority of exhibits are displayed in the open in railway sidings.

2ft 6in gauge Bagnall 2-6-2T BK-13 (3053 of  1953) ex Burdwan Katwa Railway

Broad gauge 20202 (Class WAM-1) was the first alternating current passenger locomotive in India. Manufactured by a European consortium in 1959, it is reportedly operational and its condition suggests that it has not been long on display.

First sighting in India of a Darjeeling B class locomotive. 798 (North British 23291 of 1898) is nicely displayed under cover with two carriages.
A metre gauge express engine, 2-8-2 3403 built by TELCO (a.k.a Tata) in 1961.

Two British tour members enjoying their ride on the 18 inch gauge 'Fairy Queen Express' train.

Indian Narrow Gauge Extravaganza

Mahanadi, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 11 March 2016
I was lucky enough to participate in the month-long Darjeeling Tours Narrow Gauge Extravaganza tour in March-April. Unfortunately, work commitments since them have delayed the posting of blog entries, but it is now time to begin.

Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh
I would strongly recommend Darjeeling Tours http://www.darjeelingtours.co.uk/under tour leader Fuzz Jordan to anyone contemplating a trip to India  The tour was well-organised and the arrangements were flexible enough to allow for individual detours. Some famous cultural sites were included, but not at the expense of rail interest, and some of the accommodation echoed the days of the Raj in charm and comfort.

Having said that, a tour of this length in India is hard going and a certain level of physical fitness and endurance is recommended. India can seem chaotic at times, but things generally work, and the Indian people are welcoming and proud of their country.

Kangra Station (2ft 6in gauge), Himachal Pradesh, 21 March 2016
Because India is such an interesting country, and that includes its main line (5ft 6in gauge) trains, I will be including a fair bit of local colour amongst the narrow gauge frocus.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mackay Sugar 11 February 2016

Just a quick visit to Mackay enabled me to find a few sugar industry off season maintenance tasks going on.

One task is putting all the bins from the three mills through routine greasing and checking at Pleystowe. Farleigh Mill's turn to participate in this process began today with Walkers B-B DH DULVERTON making the initial run from Pleystowe with 160 bins that had already been serviced. It would later return with a rake of bins from Farleigh. Up to 200 bins can be serviced in a day at Pleystowe, so it is quite a job to keep up the supply.

DULVERTON eases its load across Mandurana Road
The large radio-controlled bogie brake wagon makes up the rear off the rake.
The line from Pleystowe to Farleigh includes the steep Church Hill (1 in 25). This photo shows the gradient with the locomotive out of sight over the crest and the brake wagon yet to commence its ascent.
Meanwhile, Clyde 0-6-0DH DEVEREUX was out on Marian Mill's Mia Mia line with the track welding train. Just as on main line railways, many mills are eliminating fishplate joints to help reduce maintenance costs.

On the intensively-used main line south of Racecourse Mill, two Plasser track machines were in use.
Plasser Model KMX-12T TTAMP5 (built 1990) 
Plasser ballast regulator BREG1, built 1982
Eric Gibson's ex Farleigh Mill Avonside 0-4-0T is still stored under cover on Gibson's Road, behind Racecourse Mill.

Avonside 1909 of 1922. This type came to Queensland after two earlier ones ordered by South African sugar mills were commandeered by the British Government during World War I, ending up at Farleigh Mill after the war.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

New Zealand January 2016 - 7. Blenheim Riverside Railway

The Blenheim Riverside Railway is a superb new 2ft gauge line that has been developed over the last 30 years. It runs 5.5km from Brayshaw Heritage Park to the heart of Blenheim alongside the Taylor River. An 800m branch to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and Omaka Classic Cars was recently opened in 2015.

The railway makes Blenheim unique as a 2ft gauge railway centre worldwide. There is nothing quite like this anywhere else.

At Brayshaw Park Station, the main loco working currently is GEORGE, 4wDH A&G Price 166 of 1951, built in Thames, New Zealand for the Ohai State Coal Mine.

B-B DH ONAHAU - 1145 DH3443 - was donated to the railway. It was built in a Picton shipyard in the 1990s for service on a now defunct private railway in the Marlborough Sounds. Too slow for passenger work, it is the preferred locomotive for maintenance trains.

Maintenance vehicles coupled to ONAHAU in the spacious shed.

This rotary grass cutter built by the railway is reminiscent of larger versions once used on Queensland sugar cane railways.

WW 7443, a converted ex-NZR jigger

This is a Ruston & Hornsby 20DL 4wDM, believed to be 202969 of 1940. It had a varied history in the UK, receiving its steam outline for use at the Cotswold Wildlife Park. It came to New Zealand in 1984 and was purchased for the railway in 2011. It is currently being equipped for passenger use.

'Donald' was built as a 0-4-0T in 1901, almost certainly by the Glasgow Railway Engineering Co Ltd. It worked at the Puponga coal mines until 1930 and was then dumped. Rescued in 1989, it has been a long-term rebuilding project. Converted to an oil-burning 0-4-2T to make it suitable for passenger use, it should return to steam during 2016.

MURRAY is Ruston & Hornsby 170204 of 1934, converted from 2ft 6in gauge. It worked at Milburn Lime & Cement and is currently the backup passenger train loco.

RM1 is a B-B DH railcar built by the railway in 1992 and available to handle light services or operate shuttles on the Omaka branch on busy days.

The railway runs alongside the Taylor River through parkland. This is just past Eckford's Engineering Corner as the line approaches central Blenheim

The train passes below High Street at the Alfred Bridge and joins the River Board Walk at Leeds Quay

Beaver Station terminus alongside the river quay in central Blenheim

On returning to Brayshaw Park, GEORGE runs around its train in readiness for its run up the Omaka branch, opened in 2015

The Omaka branch crosses a bridge over the Taylor River constructed by the Marlborough District Council

Train at Omaka Station ready to return to Brayshaw Park

Climbing up from the river bridge on the return journey to Brayshaw Park

Friday, February 19, 2016

New Zealand January 2016. 6 - 2ft gauge lines: Ferrymead, Charleston, Denniston

2ft-gauge railways were never numerous in New Zealand, but there is plenty of interest in those that exist today.

There is a 2ft gauge railway at Ferrymead Heritage Park near Christchurch, with its track currently under reconstruction. It has two 'Planet' diesels (locked in the shed) and other rolling stock from Dominion Salt, Grasmere.

Galvanised salt wagons from Dominion Salt on display at the Ferrymead 2ft gauge railway.

The remains of a CSR steel cane truck from Fiji.
Parts of the Clyde Engineering first class carriage from the Fiji Free Train.
Other sections and the bogies from this car are stored nearby.

An interesting crane

At Charleston, on the west coast, Norwest Adventures run a cave rafting attraction on the Nile River. An adjunct to this is the Nile River Rainforest Train which runs along an attractive limestone gorge, a location for the BBC's 2001 "Lost World" TV movie.
The main locomotive is a steam outline diesel-hydraulic rebuilt from a Greenwood & Batley 4wBE loco (2280 of 1950).
Travelling through the Nile River Gorge

The second locomotive is CECIL, this time with a petrol engine.
It was also rebuilt from a battery loco, Wingrove & Rogers 795 of 1931.

Denniston is situated at the top of a high plateau near Westport. It was the home of a number of coal mines linked by rope-powered 2ft gauge wagonways to the top of the famous Denniston incline. This was actually two inclines, up which NZR coal wagons were hauled to be loaded with coal.

The 'Denniston Experience' is a tourist attraction featuring a 2ft gauge railway running along the side of a gorge on the trackbed of one of the old waggonways and into the Banbury Mine which first produced coal in 1880.

Old coal tubs half buried near the incline head.

The locomotive in use is heavily rebuilt Greenwood & Batley 2281 of 1950.

The train awaiting to depart from the station.

600 metres up, the Denniston Plateau was wreathed in mist.
The line snakes around the escarpment above a deep gorge.
The mine entrance. The train travels a short distance inside.