Michael Shearer - New Zealand Trains

ALL ABOARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The 3 o'clock Express for Train Knowledge is leaving from Platform 1

Trains first ran in New Zealand on the 18th November 1863 on a short line between Christchurch and the town of Ferrymead. It was New Zealand's first public railway. The first steam engine to be used in New Zealand was called "Lady Barkley", and the engine that ran on New Zealands first railway was called Pilgrim.

Over the years New Zealand started getting from overseas and in New Zealand, more bigger and powerful steam locomotives.

Some of New ZealandsOpa,_Me_and_Ja_1250.JPG well known steam locomotive classes are:-


The K class locomotives mainly worked on the steep section of the North Island Main Trunk Railway between Taihape and Taumranui.
In 1953 one engine Ka 949 was hauling the Night Express from Wellington to Auckland and at the Tangiwai Rail bridge, a lahar that had a few minutes before, sweeped away a pier on the bridge, the bridge gave way underneath the weight of the train and the engine and the first 6 carriages fell into the river and 151 were killed. The Kb locomotives were used in the south island and operated between Springfield and Arthurs Pass on the Midland Line. These locomotives had a special booster in them that abled them to travel faster at low speeds. Only one survives to the present day. They operated successfully from 1939 to the late 60's.

The Tangiwai Disaster was and still is New Zealand's worst rail disaster and at the time it was among the 8 worst rail disasters in the world and was New Zealand's 5th worst recorded disaster. The lahar that hit the Tangiwai bridge came from Mt Ruapehu, which was released at 8 pm on Christmas Eve 1953 and hit the Tangiwai Bridge at 10:15 pm, and at 10:21 pm the train approached the bridge and the driver saw the lahar beside him and braked the train but couldn't stop in time. When it was investigated, the Board of Inqury said that it was caused by and "Act of God" but it was actually and "Act of Neglance" cause there was so much evidence that showed that it was a disaster waiting to happen. Since the disaster, as a sign of respect, any train that travels across the Tangiwai bridge on Christmas Eve slows down to cross the bridge to remember the 151 people who died in New Zealand's worst rail disaster. Below is a drawing of where the engine and carriages, that fell into the river ended up.

Map of Tangiwai disaster site
Map of Tangiwai disaster site

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The J class locomotives were used in both the North and South Islands and were romoured to have done 70 miles an hour across the Cantebury Plains between Christchurch and Dunedin. The last J class engine (and the last steam locomotive ever in New Zealand) to be built was Ja 1274 and is on static display in Dunedin at the Otago's Settlers Museum.

One rail preservation group called the Glenbrook Vintage Railway has been operating successfully since 1977 and has about 8 steam locomotives either, stored, operational, or awaiting restoration. These include Ja 1250 named "Diana" after the belated owner's wife, Ww 480 which on the 18th of October turned 100 years old, Ww 644 simillar in design to 480, a unique locomotive called a Mallet (where steam is pumped to the first set of coupling rods and then reheated and sent to the second set of coupling rods), F 223 this engine is named Ada after the first steam locomotive to run on the Onehunga branch when it first opened. Some engines awaiting restoration are A 423 one of two survivors of its class, Ab 832 arrived at Glenbrook in 1996 from MOTAT, Wab 800 is a tank engine version of the Ab and is also one of two surviving of its class, and Fa 250 which is in pieces awaiting restoration, this locomotive is also the only one of its class left in New Zealand. I am a volunteer worker at this railway currently on the station ,but early next year i will be doing station duties as well as train duties such as cleaner (also trainee fireman) and trainee guard.

The photo above is of me in my Glenbrook station uniform, which consists of a black cap, black waistcoat, white long sleve shirt, black longs, black shoes and black socks.

Out of the 638 steam locomotives built in New Zealand only 81 survive to the present day

some preserved railway websites are

www.railfan.org.nz :- Glenbrook Vintage Railway and Railway Enthuisasts Society website

www.mainlinesteam.co.nz :- Mainline Steam Trusts website

www.steaminc.org.nz :- Steam Incorporated Wellington's website

www.obr.org.nz :- Ocean Beach Railway, Dunedin's website

Here are some movie clips with trains

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klmO2R7NMak this one is the official members train to go down the new extension to Waiuku on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk6SXZseMPk this is a video of the former Eo electric's ,that use to run between Otira and Arthurs Pass hauling trains trhough the 1 in 33 gradient Otira tunnel, being brought out of storage and put bak into service by KiwiRail

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrQJfYdoccs this video is of a motorist failing to stop at a railway crossing at Glenbrook before ploughing into the side of Ja 1250

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaKo8zL7fa4&feature=related this is a brief video on the cause of the 1953 Tangiwai Rail Disaster that claimed 151 lives

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBAjibBV4Q0&feature=related this is a video of the world famous Tranz Alpine Express that travels on the Midland Line between Christchurch and Arthurs Pass.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3laBRBPfQ4 this is a video of the old Cadbury Crunchie Bar commercial that stopped showing on the televison in the 2000. The train it was filmed on no longer operates.