Canterbury Railscene

Canterbury is the centre of New Zealand’s South Island. It stretches from the Southern Alps to the eastern coast. The Canterbury Plains dominate the landscape, particularly in Mid Canterbury while in the North and South, rolling countryside connects the mountains and hills with the sea. The Midland Line to the West Coast has its own page, so here I will present the remaining Canterbury railway scene, particularly around Timaru.

The most numerous mainland diesel locomotive in New Zealand was the DC class. In the early 1980s the locos were rebuilt from DA class engines built in the 1960s. Originally the DC’s were painted in the “fruit salad” or “international orange” livery of New Zealand Rail. Shortly before privatisation New Zealand Rail introduced a blue livery. Engines with both liveries are seen together departing Timaru on a freight train south. [Oct 2007]

And here is the view of the two engines heading past the grain silo in Timaru. The TranzRail logo on the second engine is visible. TranzRail bought the railway from the government in 1993, but did not rename the operation to TranzRail until late 1994. [Oct 2007]

In 2001 TranzRail incorporated its long-distance passenger services as a stand-alone company called TranzScenic 2001 Ltd. The transfer incleded 10 DC locomotives, 2 EF locomotives and passenger carriages. It sold 50% of the shares to Australian interests. The DC locomotives were reclassified DCP. Here such a locomotive arrives with a special train in Timaru. [Oct 2007]

In 2004 TranzRail was wholly bought by Toll and TranzScenic was brought in-house again. Nevertheless, the locomotives continued to be classified Dcp and were preferably used to haul passenger trains. The special train stops in Timaru. No regular passenger trains use Timaru station any more. A freight train with track maintenance vehicles waits in Timaru for its departure towards the south. [Oct 2007]

The blue livery was initially retained by Tranz Rail until it introduced the black and yellow hi-viz livery. It was soon known as “bumble-bee” among railfans. A DFT class loco leads two DCs into Timaru. The one in the middle sports the old 'fruit-salad' livery, while the one at the back is painted in bumble-bee colours. [2005]
After the private owners had run down the national railway, the operation was largely purchased by the state again in 2008 and renamed KiwiRail. A DC in the KiwiRail livery leads a DX loco northward past an irrigated field near Hinds. [Nov 2013]
But before the state became involved, there was a change of private ownership. In 2003 the Australian transport company Toll bought a majority shareholding in Tranz Rail and renamed it Toll NZ in 2004, with the railway operation known as Toll Rail. It introduced a distinctly green and yellow Australian livery, known by railfans as “corn cob”. Here a DX class loco in the new livery has arrived in the Timaru yard with a DC class assisting [Feb 2005].
The DX class was New Zealand’s most powerful main line diesel locomotive for many decades. The class was introduced in the early 1970s particularly for working the North Island Main Trunk. Since electrification of the main trunk, the engines are seen throughout New Zealand.
This train is about to depart Timaru for Christchurch one autumn night. [Mar 2007]
A Dx arriving in Timaru from the north derailed as it entered the station area. Crews are busy preparing to place the locomotive on the rails again. [Apr 2006]
DX5483 hauls train 923 out of Timaru one day in spring 2007. In the background on the right is the large milk powder store, while the old wheat mill and silo is visible to the left. The buildings reflect the change in farming in South Canterbury, with more emphasis on dairy production and less on arable farming.
A Dx hauls a freight train with track maintenance vehicles in Timaru, together with a Dft class locomotive. In the background the smokestack of a Tasman Orient Line ship can be seen. [Oct 2007]
Together with DC4277, another DX is about to depart Timaru towards the south. An Ontrack hi-rail vehicle stands on the adjacent line, ready to follow once the train has left. [Nov 2007]
A DX leads a freight train south across the Canterbury Plains near Hinds. [May 2008]
Two DX locomotives with a northbound freight train in St. Andrews. The leading engine still has the Toll Rail colour scheme, even though small KiwiRail logos have been applied. Both have been modified for use on the coal route across the Midland Line. [Feb 2013]
A DX engine heads its train along Otipua Beach just south of Timaru. Photo by Hermann Frank. [Oct 2013]
Two DX locomotives in KiwiRail livery haul their train past the old goods shed at Rangitata. [Oct 2013]
Two DX locos with a freight train near Hinds. [Oct 2013]
And this is the view as the train heads away to the north. The air intake ducts on the side are quite noticeable. They allow fresh air to be used when the locomotives haul coal trains through the Otira Tunnel. [Oct 2013]
A DX heads a freight train through Timaru along Caroline Bay. It has just passed underneath the piazza, which connects Main Street with Caroline Bay. [Nov 2013]
This photo was taken in Papanui, the northern suburbs of Christchuch. Two DX locomotives head the Coastal Pacific train to Picton out of Christchurch. [Nov 2013]
By now the KiwiRail livery has become the standard locomotive livery in New Zealand. A DX stands in Timaru, ready to take a train northwards. Timaru station and the old flour mill are in the background. [Dec 2017].
The DF class was introduced in the late 70s and all engines were turbocharged in the 1990s to become the DFT class. Here, a DFT heads a train out of Timaru. [Nov 2004]
The Southerner passenger train ran between Christchurch and Invercargill from December 1970 to February 2002. I travelled on the train regularly between Dunedin and Timaru. DFT7008 hauls the Southerner along the coast at Scarborough, south of Timaru. [Jul 1996].
A DFT lcomotive leads a DC class engine through Timaru. Both are in the bumble-bee livery of the TranzRail era. [Dec 2004]
DFT 7199 hauls a train south of Timaru over the bridge at Pig Hunting Creek. A DC loco gives additional power. Both sport the blue NZ Rail livery with Tranz Rail signage. [Jan 2006]
The same locomotive is about to leave Timaru with a freight train one night. [Mar 2007]
The driver of DFT 7023 talks with the shunter before leaving Timaru. The little four-wheeler used by the shunter can be seen beside the engine. The DFT loco is in the then current TollRail livery. [Sep 2007]
Just over ten years later, another DFT stands at just about the same point at the head of a south-bound train. DFT 7036 is in KiwiRail livery, just as the DSG 3236 on the adjacent track. The helping DC locomotive, however, is still in the old international orange livery from New Zealand Rail days. [Dec 2017].
A DFT loco hauls a freight train past Caroline Bay northwards on a summer afternoon. The popular recreation spot in Timaru was in full swing for the Caroline Bay Carnival at this time of the year. [Jan 2018].
Occassionaly a Silver Fern railcar made its way into Canterbury. These railcars were introduced in 1972 for service on the North Island Main Trunk between Auckland and Wellington. A railcar leased to Dunedin Railways was used for the 150th anniversary celebrations in Christchurch and arrives at Ferrymead. [Oct 2013].
The inside of the railcar. It was modernised in 2010. [Oct 2013].
For local shunting services shunting engines with good visibility, but lower speed and power output are used. They bring wagons to and from sidings and work in the rail yard to make up trains. DSC locomotives were common shunting engines in New Zealand. The first models were built from 1958 in England. Subsequent batches were built by New Zealand Rail from 1962 onwards. One of these engines propels container wagons from the Timaru yards to the port siding. [Apr 2005]
The shunting locomotives were remotely controlled with the controller riding on one of the wagons in the middle of the train. Another shunter guided the train at the front using a four-wheel motorbike. Here, the train is propelled on the port siding at Timaru. [May 2005]
And here's the DSC engine on the other end of the train pushing the waggons with containers to the port. [May 2005]
A DSC shunting engine sits in the yard at Timaru. [Oct 2005]
A DSC locomotive has just collected some empty log wagons from the export log yard in Timaru. It now runs through the streets of the industrial area round the port. Some surreptitious advertising in the background: My then employer’s sign is discretely displayed on the building. [May 2007]
TranzRail had some DSC engines painted in the colours of the provincial rugby teams. The engine in the Canterbury colours red and black has coupled onto waggons loaded with containers at the port of Timaru. [May 2007]
The same DSC locomotive is shunting some refrigerated waggons in the Timaru railway yards. The roof over the rail siding is part of the loading area of Canterbury Woolscours. [Oct 2007]
A DSC shunting engine sits in the yard at Ashburton. [Oct 2013]
The DSC shunting engine sits on the main line in Timaru as part of a shunting move. Large flood lights have been fitted to the hoods of shunting locomotives, presumably for better visibility at night. [Dec 2017].
DSC 2406 trundles past DX 5080 in the Timaru yards. [Dec 2017].
DSG shunting locomotives were built in New Zealand during the 1980s out of Japanese kitsets. They are considerably more powerful than their DSC counterparts. This engine pulls a rake of loaded container wagons from the Pareora freezing works to Timaru. [1996]
A DSG shunting engine sits in the yard at Timaru [Mar 2005]
This DSG engine pulls a rake of loaded container wagons from the port in Timaru to the railway yards. On the sidings and in the yard shunting locomotives are generally remotely controlled. Here the operator stands on the front steps of the engine as it negotiates the tracks around the wharf. [Sep 2005]
The shunting engines at Timaru were regularly switched. Here a DSG 3018 sits in Timaru. [Oct 2005]
On another fine morning the same Dsg locomotive shunts some empty container wagons to the port of Timaru. [Jan 2007]
This DSG engine has just collected some loaded containers from one of the sidings in the port and industrial area of Timaru. [Nov 2007]
The same DSG locomotive with a train of reefer containers on its way from Pareora to Timaru is seen at Scarborough. Photo by Hermann Frank [Mar 2008]
A DSG locomotive in KiwiRail colours shunts freight waggons in Timaru. [Jun 2016].
The Hornby Industrial Branch goes past the Hornby shopping centre and through the centre of Hornby, a suburb of Christchurch. Here a DSG locomotive hauls a train across the busy intersection in Hornby. [May 2016].
When Toll Rail took over rail operations in 2004, it brokered a deal with the government, so that the government took over the network infrastructure and maintained it. The government entity maintaining and administering the railway network was called Ontrack. Here, several Ontrack ballast waggons are seen in Timaru. [Jan 2007]
It was only after several years of dispute between TollRail and Ontrack about track access charges, that the government decided to buy the whole rail operation back in 2008. It was now an integrated railway again and named KiwiRail. Here a KiwiRail hi-rail track maintenance vehicle is seen near Otaio south of Timaru. [Feb 2013]
After stopping and speaking to the photographer, the maintenance crew continued on their way south. The equipment on the back of the vehicle can be seen here. [Feb 2013]