J1211 Drawing

Stack Talk Archive


December 21st 2012.
Mainline Steam's Depots will be closed from the 21st December 2012 until the 14th January 2013. Watch the excursion page for 2013 excursions appearing in the New Year.

December 4th 2012.
Here are some videos you may enjoy watching over the holidays.
Ka942 out of Dunedin.

Ab663 Feilding to Taihape.

Tour Train scenes


November 24th 2012.
The Waikato Explorer went well with Ja1240 putting on a great show for its first mainline excursion. This was also a joint trip with the Railway Enthusiasts Society and we used their carriage fleet for the trip. The fact that this trip went so well probably means that we will do further trips together in the future. Thank you to all the volunteers and the KiwiRail staff that made this a great day out. Below is a short poem penned by one of our members.

Waikato Explorer 2012 - Tuakau Bank

By Bill Krippner

Up the bank we went that night,
1240 running fine.
The problems with injectors,
seem long ago behind.

Dave Simo was the fire pro, His fire set so bright.
Keith checks from the drivers side, and get the nod - she's right.

Keith pulls on the lever, The loco starts to sing.
The speed ticking up the marks, Steam beats the grade does ping.

Up we charge into the night, The words cannot express.
The speed, the skill, the poetry, To see a team at test.

More coal Dave sets into the box, Cab flashes every swing.
Keith watches up ahead,
Check track, his mate, steam ring.

50 years of skill in charge, This crew put on the floor.
To see skill work, experience shown, Is concert shown and more.

Up the bank the loco pulled, The ears they started ringing.
Coal in the fire, steam out the stack, The loco she was singing.

Oh what a night, the train behind, It comes to an end.
Keith signal mate, he shuts it off,
Dave nods and sets and tends.

Into Puk so we glide,
Rails smooth, clear and shiny.
Keith said to me, how was that Bill, All I could say was “Blimey”!

To home they went Crew loco, passengers and team.
Our thanks we gave, so small it seemed, to the spectacle we had seen.

To see again I do not know, the face that says it all.
To watch the pro's hand hard at work, is a memory set recall.

Dedicated to Grant Hjorth and the Mainline team


October 29th 2012.
Grant Hjorth.

It is with deep sadness and a very heavy heart that we announce the passing of Grant Hjorth, aged 49. Grant was a mainstay of Mainline Steam and was not only a Trustee but also the Chief Mechanical Officer and General Manager.

Grant also served on the Heritage Technical Committee and his expertise and advice in all matters regarding the restoration and operation of steam locomotives was widely sought by many organisations. He was always willing to use his knowledge and expertise to assist any organisation involved in Heritage Rail preservation and has played a huge part in bringing rail preservation up to the high standard we all see and enjoy today.

Grant has been with Mainline Steam since he was a teenager and has worked tirelessly with Ian Welch to grow the organisation to the one we see and enjoy today. Grant was passionate in his belief that if we are going to spend time and money preserving rail heritage then it needs to be to a high standard and be operating, not dead in a museum, to show off the full glory of steam to generations which never had the opportunity to see steam in action. His legacy is seen in the faces of children, and adults, who look in awe at the locomotives as they thunder along the line in all their glory.

Grant’s passing will leave a huge hole, not only in Mainline Steam, but the heritage movement as a whole. But even though we find his passing incomprehensible and devastating it is many times more so for his wife and daughter, who he adored and who adored him. We all share in their grief and offer them our support through this terrible time.


October 2nd 2012.
We received the email today regarding the Napier - Gisborne line. It means that our excursion on the line on the 28th October could be the last steam hauled excursion on the line. There are still some seats left but you need to get your booking in. http://www.mainlinesteam.co.nz/documents/naplinefrm.pdf

From: Jim Quinn
Sent: Tuesday, 2 October 2012 12:01 p.m.
Subject: Napier Gisborne Line

You will be aware that we have been reviewing the commercial viability of the Napier-Gisborne line for some time and that the line has been closed since March after it was extensively damaged by a storm. Reinstatement of the storm damage was expected to cost around $4 million and would have taken several months to complete.

In addition, costs to maintain the rail track and structures along it, such as bridges, are likely to rise significantly in coming years.  Currently we spend around $2 million a year to maintain the track in a fit for purpose condition. However this would need to increase to around $6 million a year to support any increased level of service.   Additionally several bridges along the route are nearing the end of their expected life and would need replacing over the next 10 years.

Based on the information we gathered around future business opportunities and the work we carried out to determine the costs to repair the storm damage, we have decided the line will be mothballed, and all rail operations on the line, including the section from Napier to Wairoa, will cease. I expect Napier to Wairoa will cease operation within the next 6 weeks.

We acknowledge the support given by the local businesses and the wider community for retaining rail to the region and that there had been an upturn in volumes carried on the line in the months prior to March.  However that growth fell well short of making the line financially sustainable.

As you all know with limited available funding we need to ensure we invest in areas of the network where we are able to grow business to a level it is commercially sustainable.

There will be some staff affected by this decision and we will now commence consultation with them alongside the union. 

We recognise the strategic importance of maintaining the option to reinstate the line, should appropriate opportunities arise in the future. Mothballing the line, rather than closing it preserves that option.

We will continue to monitor business opportunities in the region so we can respond if anything changes.

Jim Quinn
CEO KiwiRail

September 29th 2012.
Ja1240 was moved to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway today. It was in steam and accompanied by Ja1275 which returned to Parnell. While at Glenbrook 1240 will undertake break in running before heading out on its first excursion which we expect will be at the end of November. Today's move with 1240 in steam was the first time Ja1240 has been in steam on the New Zealand Rail Network since it was retired in November 1971.

September 26th 2012.
Today Ja1240 passed another milestone in its return to service and has been registered to operate on the New Zealand Rail Network. Our next step is to take it out to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway for some break in running. This is scheduled to happen on Saturday the 29th of September when it will travel there in steam in the company of Ja1275. Scheduled departure from Parnell is 10:30am. The locomotives will run via the waterfront and Glen Innes.

September 20th 2012.
Check out the Dunedin Steam Festival.

September 10th 2012.
Footage from our Midland Mountaineer trip to Greymouth appeared on TV3 last night. You can see it here. The trip went extremely well despite the wet weather on the coast. thank you to those who wrote in to tell us what a great time they had. Thank you also goes to the MLS Christchurch team for their hard work and to the KiwiRail crew for their efforts in making the weekend a success.

August 30th 2012.
has passed it's steam boiler test this afternoon. This is a big step in seeing it back on the mainline. Tomorrow it will have its external mechanical inspection. Our plan is to keep 1240 in Auckland in the meantime, and then in 2013 do a delivery excursion from Auckland to Christchurch. Once we have completed the necessary inspections we will move Ja1240 to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway where it will undertake break in running and testing, as well as, operate some of their Sunday steam trips over their line. Watch this space.

August 22nd 2012.
We have been running a series of trips over the last couple of months from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass and return. These have proved popular so we have added an extra trip on Sunday 9th September. If you would like to see some photos from the trips already operated please see this album on our photo pages.

August 9th 2012.
The restoration of Ja1240 is making great progress. See how much in this video shot this evening.

July 20th 2012.
News from around the depots.

The winter excursion season has started in Christchurch with the transfer of Ka942 from Wellington. The first trip to Arthurs Pass was on the 8th of July and was a sell out as is the one on the 22nd of July. We have two more trips, one on the 5th of August and one on the 19th August. These are both filling fast. In September the Christchurch team will be involved in the popular 2 day trip to Greymouth and back.In other news the boiler of Ja1256 has been gifted to Mainline Steam by Brian and Ann Gargiulo. It will be placed in secure storage and kept in case we ever need to replace the boiler on one of our existing locomotives. There has also been a reasonable amount of infrastructure work around the depot with an extra track being laid and a window fitted to the lunch room.Thank you to KB Contracting and Morgan and Pollard Landscapes for their help.

The major job at the Wellington Depot is the reconstruction work on the BR carriages. However time has been found to fit a new pantograph to the Ew and to finally start one of the Dj's that has been undergoing overhaul. To of the Wellington reps also accompanied Ka942 on it's journey from Plimmerton to Christchurch.

The main focus has been on Ja1240. It is pleasing to report that on the 19th July 1240 was steamed and moved under it's own power for the first time since it was retired in 1971. The overhaul process has taken 5 years and there were many smiling faces when the throttle was opened and the locomotive rolled under its own power. There are some videos here and here. There is still work to be done but all the major components worked and it is now more weeks than months until it is fully operational.

July 2nd 2012.
Ka942 is going to be transferred to Christchurch for the winter excursion season. It is due to move from Wellington to Picton on July 4th and then on the 5th it will be towed in train 729 from Picton to Christchurch arriving about 1800. If you are going out to photograph the move please do so from public property.

May 14th 2012.
Christchurch Depot.

We have been working away on several projects whilst we don't have an operational mainline loco here, Ray and Chris, with assistance from others have been working on the raising and leveling of road 4, this has involved lifting the track sets and digging out the soil and clay that roads 4 and 5 are sitting on and back filling and compacting with base coarse, it is almost ready for the track sets to be re-laid, this job has been held up at times by the weather as water lies like you wouldn't believe on that side of the shed.

Another job that has been done in conjunction with this is the fitting of guttering on the Lunns Road side of our shed, this means less flooding and water lying around roads 4 and 5, we have been donated downpipes and the base coarse for these projects which reduced the costs enormously, a big thank you to our sponsors here.

Our lunchroom is coming along nicely, cupboard doors have been made and fitted by Ray Scott, Ray also constructed a shelf unit to house our library collection, the notice board is being improved and we hope to have the room painted in the near future.

A start has been made on assessing our coal tubs for use, two of these require the replacement of steel from the hinges down whilst all bar one require new bottoms fitted, also our Hiab is being checked over, a crack has been repaired in the telescopic arm socket and the motor awaits compression testing and a few minor jobs before refitting to the wagon, also on the subject of Urk 66 Michael Hobbs is replacing the longitudinal channels in the tank, most of these had corroded away to nothing.

We recently had a scrap drive and tidied up a lot of our site, 3 truckloads went away, our excavator has had some new pins and bushes fitted along with a new throttle assembly, it now operates at full throttle and the controls work as they should, other work around the shed has seen the fitting of a replacement security light at the east end and the steam cleaner now works as it should thanks to the assistance of Mike Wilcox.

Kb work has not been forgotten, the brake gear has been refitted to the tender as have the policemen, and rear draw gear, side chains etc, timber for the tank runners is on order and should be on hand shortly, the tender body work continues with oversize holes being welded and reamed to the correct size for riveting, Mike Tobin's skills are proving very handy for this type of project, under Paul Markholm’s guidance Mike won't run out of jobs for some time to come, I would like to welcome Alister Hyde to our team, Alister is a fan of 968 and being a painter by trade has taken on the job of removing the paint on the tender with assistance of Dick Clayton and anybody else who may be around at the time.

We now have a stand to hang our coupling hooks/bull hooks and kidney links, this has been placed between roads 1 and 2 at the south end of the shed, please use this as it keeps our work areas free of hooks lying in odd places, it is painted yellow so you won't miss it!
Lindsay Challis

Wellington Depot
Rolling Stock
Although it seems as if little progress has been made on the transforming ex-Virgin/British Railway carriages we can report that Matt has completed wiring up the first class car and is now working through the other three second class cars to ensure that such functions as door closing and step indicating circuits all operate in the same way.  This will eliminate the need to check each carriage that all doors are secured and the steps tucked away as warning lights on the sides of the carriages will indicate if both doors and steps are not secure so that the guard can remedy the situation before giving the “right away.” This may seem a simple task but the circuits need to take into account that the steps need to be tucked away where there is a platform so that the carriages do not foul the loading gauge while the doors operate as normal. There has been a change to the order of restoration with the fourth second class carriage being sidelined in favour of an additional first class car BR 3209.  While like all the other carriages the interior is in reasonable condition the exterior has suffered from the UK conditions and Zac is starting on the task of repairing the ends and doors which in parts are badly corroded.

One problem that has continued to dog the restoration has been two attacks by graffiti ‘artists’ the first over Christmas and the second in February.  The first attack was more a tagging episode and fortunately the perpetrator left enough clues that the police were later able to apprehend the tagger.  The second was more serious as it involved two of the carriages.  Despite being stored close to the shed and on the far side from the Plimmerton Railway Station the carriages can be seen from the garden centre and for the vandals that is sufficient for them to indulge their pastime. Once again Graham and Blake had to tackle the painstaking time consuming task to clean off the graffiti.  Fortunately this time the paint work itself was not damaged although parts of the white vinyl stripe still has an orange tinge where the remover could not complete the task.

Our wooden carriage AA1013 was woken from its slumber in February where with KA942 it was displayed at the Hutt Workshop’s open day.  As usual it was openly admired by many people who took time to walk through it, especially those of a more mature age who could remember travelling in similar carriages to school or on holiday.  All remarked that they wished they had experienced such travel in the comfort of AA1013 as most could remember just the hard seats and wore torn carriages of yesteryear.

Ka942 was twice woken from its slumber this year, the first for its annual boiler inspection and then the second for the trip to the Hutt Workshops.  Some maintenance work was required to maintain it in tip top condition, the first being the refurbishment of an injector valve and the second the refurbishment of the front end throttle valves. Ab663 was also woken from its slumber for the annual boiler inspection and stands ready for any assignment that may come up in the future.

The ten year re-certification of Jb1236 has started with the opening up of the smoke box and the removal of the tubes by Mike and Vic. 

Track work and Grounds.
With space being at a premium work has commenced on laying a track at the south end of the yard where it is planned to store excess rolling stock.  The first step has been to erect a new fence with shade cloth to partially hide the rolling stock from view. This has been completed and track sets are now being laid.  Stage two will be to consolidate the balance of the area and construct a three-way point so that more of the rolling stock can be stored to free up space in the main yard.

Future Plans.
Apart from pressing on with the BR carriages and the extension of the track at the south of the depot, work will continue on the overhaul of Jb1236.
Rob Martin.

May 11th 2012.
John Kelly, one of our Auckland members, has supplied us with some video taken during and Open Weekend at our Parnell Depot in early 1997. It is an interesting of our history and shows the GMAM Garrett in steam. I have posted it to You Tube here.

March 26th 2012.
The Kaipara Cannonball excursion to Helensville yesterday went very well. The heavy morning rain had cleared by the time the first passenger pick up was done at Ellerslie and the sun shone for the rest of the day. At Helensville there was an excellent
variety of stalls at the Market Day around the station and the local takeaways and bakeries did a roaring trade. A large line of children and adults formed to look through the cab of Ja1275. Many people also took the opportunity to have a photo taken in front of the locomotive. On the homeward journey a photo run was  done at Huapai.
If you missed out on this trip our next one is the Sunday Lunch on the 29th April. See the excursion page for details.

The photo to the left shows Ja1275 leading the train down through the curves towards Waitakere on the way to Helensville. Some photos from the day are available here.

March 13th 2012.
It has been a while since the last news update and we apologise for that. So what has been happening?

At the end of the November tour Jb1236 was moved from Christchurch to Wellington for its 10 year boiler survey. It is currently having a number of tubes replaced. In Auckland Ja1240 is proving more difficult than expected to overhaul. The replacement of one of the cylinder liners is proving troublesome and unfortunately the pressure of outside work, which helps pay the bills, is delaying work on 1240.

The New Zealand Steam Tour in November went well and there are a lot of great photos here. We are well under way with the October 2012 Steam Tour with bookings already coming in. This year we are returning to Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill. A full Itinerary is available here along with pricing.

In February we operated our Northlander excursion over the scenic North Auckland Line to Whangarei. All went well on the way north but on the return journey our speed was restricted due to concerns over the possibility of track buckles due to the heat. Then at Wellsford the KiwiRail power generator shut down just as it was getting dark. Attempts to restart it proved unsuccessful and closer inspection discovered a split fuel line which couldn't be repaired.  Fortunately the emergency lights in the carriages cut in and we, at least, had light back to Auckland with the last batteries failing just as we pushed the carriages into storage at the Tranz Scenic Depot at Otahuhu after dropping the last of the passengers at Ellerslie. Overall it was a good day out with a couple of photo runs on the way north giving the passengers a chance to see Ja1275 in action. There are some photos here.

Over the Christmas period major track work took place on the line adjacent our Auckland Depot. The gradient was altered in preparation for the placement of the new station. The work also involved moving out mainline connection further down the hill.

The team in Wellington have been working on the new carriages and progress is being made with them. Unfortunately the Wellington Depot suffered a couple of major graffiti attacks earlier in the year. We are pleased to report that the Police did manage to identify and apprehend the offender.

In Christchurch they are busy rebuilding the tender of the  Kb. It is starting to show signs of real progress. Once it is completed work will begin in earnest on the locomotive.

December 13th 2011.
Our Auckland Depot will be shutting down for a Christmas break on the 22nd December. Starting on the 17th December extensive track work will be taking place on the adjacent mainline with all the track between the Parnell Bridge and the Parnell tunnel being removed and the gradient reduced through the area where the new station will eventually sit. This will sever our mainline connection until the end of January. We have been assured that it will well and truly be reconnected in plenty of time for the Northlander trip in early February. Our yard will be a staging area for some of the track and turnouts during the work period. The work will also sever the rail link for suburban trains between Newmarket and Britomart from the 17th December. During this period the Parnell Depot will be closed to visitors.  

November 21st 2011.
We had an excellent trip to Helensville and return yesterday behind Ja1275. The trip was a fund raiser for the South Auckland Hospice Trust. The weather was perfect and there was a party atmosphere aboard the train. The Hospice Trust raised a reasonable amount of money and the Chairman thanked Mainline Steam for our efforts in helping to make the day happen.

November 17th 2011.
Our New Zealand Steam tour is still running with passengers having a free day in Wellington today before starting back to National Park on Friday and finishing in Auckland on Saturday afternoon. It has been a fantastic trip with a great bunch of people. It was wonderful to visit so many areas of New Zealand and see so many locals come out to see the trains. This certainly raised the awareness of rail and Mainline Steam. We will get some photos on our web site but in the meantime you might like to have a look here and here. Update: There are now photos in our Gallery section from the tour.

October 3rd 2011.
The Open Weekend at Parnell went well and it was nice to catch up with some of the out of town members who called in to say hello. The Bagnall and Ja1275 performed sterling service giving rides around our depot yard. Thank you to everyone who helped out for the weekend.

September 28th 2011.
Parnell Depot will be having an Open Weekend this coming weekend 1st and 2nd October. No need to book, just turn up. See the Excursion page for all the details.

September 13th 2011.
September 11th saw the last of the Arthurs Pass excursions from Christchurch for this season. Well done to all the team in our Christchurch Depot for running a great series of trips this year. Richard Cocker and Darryl Houston have provided some excellent photos from the excursion and you can view them on our Gallery page here.

September 9th 2011.
Ja1240 Update. Although we were intending to transfer Ja1240 from Auckland to Christchurch with the steam tour in November we have decided that this will not be possible. Some area's of the restoration are taking longer than expected, notably the new cylinder liner and the new spark arrestor, which is being built from scratch. The plan now is to complete 1240 before the end of the year and then transfer it to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway for break in running and certification test runs. In June next year we intend to organise a delivery trip from Auckland to Christchurch which will tie in with the first of the winter Arthurs Pass excursions. Details are still being worked out but keep an eye on our Excursion and Facebook pages for details when they become available. A photo of 1240 taken today is here.

September 7th 2011.
The weekend of 3rd and 4th of September was a busy one for Mainline Steam. Our Christchurch Depot operated the two day Midland Mountaineer between Christchurch and Greymouth behind Jb1236 and in Auckland the Kaipara Cannonball ran to behind Ja1275 to Helensville. The Midland Mountaineer was very successful with everyone having a great time. On Sunday as Jb1236 was leaving Greymouth Ja1275 was pulling out of Otahuhu. Not many organisations can run two steam trips at the opposite ends of the country at the same time, so well done to all the volunteers who make it happen.
The Kaipara Cannonball went well with nearly 300 people riding the train to Helensville where they enjoyed browsing the market and exploring the town. Unfortunately on the way home one of the carriages derailed at Henderson as we were running through a siding to get back on the right line after Ja1275 Waimaukubypassing some infrastructure work. This meant that we had to transfer the passengers to buses for the rest of the return trip. Everyone seemed to take the whole thing in good spirits and we had all passengers away within an hour and a half. KiwiRail maintenance crews turned out and rerailed the carriage and repaired the track and the train was heading back to Auckland by 9pm. Thank you to all the team from KiwiRail. Thank you to Finn O'Regan for the photo of Ja1275 at Waimauku (right).

August 28th 2011.
We ran our first intentional non-steam excursion today. we used the Silver Fern Railcar RM24 to go from Auckland to Matata in the Bay of Plenty. A stop was made at a Kiwi fruit orchard, Kiwi 360, for lunch along the way. The Bay of Plenty turned on a beautiful day for us and at Matata everyone took the opportunity to stretch their legs and take in the views of the coastline with the active volcano White Island clearly visible on the horizon. The photo is of the train about to depart Matata for the return journey.


July 12th 2011.
Our first trip to Arthurs Pass for the winter season operated on July 10th. The train departed Christchurch under clear skies but by the time it reached Arthurs Pass it was in the snow, much to everyone's delight. Not only was there snow on the ground but it was actually snowing. This was wonderful for the passengers but made turning the locomotive and servicing it more difficult for the crew. However, turning and servicing were completed in good time for the train to head back to Christchurch. The photo below, courtesy of Daniel Garland, shows Jb1236 being turned on the Arthurs Pass turntable. The July 24th trip was sold out but we have managed to add another 48 seats so if you want to go call us ASAP. 0800462978.


June 22nd 2011.
A great day out was had by all on the 18th June on our Fieldays train and the side trip to Waharoa. Despite a shocking start to the day with heavy rain in Auckland as we were departing the weather cleared and we only had a couple of showers. Over 300 people joined us for the side trip to Waharoa while those that had come down from Auckland were away at the Fieldays. Darryl Houston has been kind enough to provide some photos he took on the day and you can see them here. Thank you to everyone that helped to make this a fun day out.

May 28th 2011.
The Northlander went extremely well today with everyone seeming to enjoy their trip over the scenic North Auckland Line. Ja1275 put on a great show during the photo runs and despite the horrendous weather earlier in the week the clouds disappeared and the sun shone adding to the enjoyment of the day. Some photographs are available here.

May 3rd 2011.
We had a great trip to Helensville on Sunday 1st May. Despite the weather being overcast the rain held off so everyone could look around the Market day taking place at the Helensville Station and we managed to get in a photo run on the way home. For the many that missed out on this excursion we are looking into running another one on the 4th of September. Watch the excursion page for details.

On Monday the 2nd of May Ja1240 took another large step towards becoming operational with the fitting of the tender body back onto the underframe A photo is available here.

March 22nd 2011.
As many of you are aware Mainline Steam is working towards developing the current Parnell Depot area into a heritage precinct. A recent Article from the Aucklander magazine can be read here. http://www.theaucklander.co.nz/local/news/picking-up-steam/3944494/. To move the project along we have been working with an architect to put some of our concepts into a visual form. Hence the attached photo which shows an overall concept with a Parnell station, the old Newmarket station, in place. The tents out the front are there to show how the area could be used, on occasion, for market days etc.

The depot itself would be turned into a working museum with the lower roofed building being tuned into a proper entrance-way and smaller shops, art studios and cafe. Similar in some ways the the Christchurch Arts Centre.

The remaining land to the left would be left free for commercial development by KiwiRail to deliver a return on the site. we would envisage that development being low rise with both commercial and residential use.

The Auckland City Council is enthused with the concept, as are local business owners. The site could become a tourist attraction for Auckland, especially with the station in place, and bring people and business to the area. I would stress this is only a concept at this stage and we have a number of others working on the brief so we will be interested to see their ideas as well. We feel that the final design will be an amalgam of ideas but will certainly be a major asset to Parnell and Auckland as a whole.

March 18th 2011.
An article about our Parnell Depot appeared in the Aucklander Magazine yesterday. You might like to have a look at it here.

March 17th 2011.
A small milestone was passed today on the road to returning Ja1240 to service. We lit a fire in it and warmed to boiler bringing the pressure up to 35psi. Well below the 200psi the loco will run on but it was where we planned to go to run
some leak tests and it was reached with little effort. Our intention is to have 1240 back in full operation and returned to Christchurch in November this year. The same same city and the same month it retired from service in 1971, 40 years ago. Picture to the left. A short video is also available here.

February 24th 2011.
Parnell Depot Update: Here is a link to an article in a local paper regarding the installation of a station at Parnell. Nothing is officially in writing as yet but negotiations are continuing with goodwill on all sides.

February 23rd 2011.
Our Christchurch Depot has survived yesterdays Earthquake in one piece. We have heard from some of our members in the area who are well and safe.

February 14th 2011.
On the 10th of February we put the last of the driving wheels back into Ja1240. We also realised that as we were moving locomotives around in the depot to access the drop pit and we currently have four of our five J's in Auckland we had a golden opportunity for a unique family photo. See here and here for a couple of the resulting photographs. You can also see this collection for some more.

February 4th 2011.
We have started a group on Flickr which you might like to check out. If you are a Flickr member, and I know many of you are you might like to consider adding your photos of Mainline Steam's operations and equipment to the photo pool.

January 26th 2011.
Plans are underway for a series of excursions during 2011 so make sure you keep an eye on the Excursion page. The 2011 tour went well and we have received lots of very positive feedback. For a small taste of what happened on the tour your might like to go here for a booklet about our adventures.

Ja1240 is making progress with the last of the driving wheels returned to Parnell with new bearings. A lot of the pipework on the locomotive has been fitted and the tender body is being cleaned and new steel being added as required. It is our intention to transfer 1240 to Christchurch during the November 2011 tour when Jb1236 will be returned to Wellington.

December 13th 2010.
With Christmas rapidly approaching we thought you might like a small present. If you follow this link it will allow you to download and print a 2011 Calendar. You will need to print it double sided and bind it. We figure you are computer literate so you shouldn't have to much problem with that. You could also put it on a memory stick and take it to your local print shop who will print it for you. Remember it is for personal use only and cannot be on sold. Enjoy.

December 5th & 6th 2010.
As this is written (morning of 6th) Ka942 is heading back to Paekakariki after the completion of filming in the Otaki area yesterday. The filming went well and the train looked great with 942 acting as Ka949. The whole event was another example of co-operation between Preservation groups, KiwiRail and Private enterprise. Some photographs of the train are posted in our Gallery section.

December 2nd 2010.
On December 5th Ka949 (942 minus streamlining) will depart from Paekakariki at 8:35am with a train of Steam Incorporated and Feilding & District Rail Societies red carriages for Otaki. Over the last few months all three organisations have been working together with Lippy Films producing a movie that includes the Tangiwai disaster. This move on Sunday will represent the final filming of the live train action. Please note: If you wish to get photos of the train please do so between Paekakariki and Otaki. During the overnight filming at Otaki the station area will be closed off and patrolled by security and we ask that railfans stay away from the area. At about 3:30am the next morning the train will run to Feilding to drop off the Feilding cars before returning to Paekakariki. Expected departure time from Feilding on the 6th is 7:20am with and arrival time in Paekakariki of 10am. We ask anyone out photographing the train to act responsibly and stay off railway property and away from the Otaki station. 

October 28th 2010.
Over the last month we have been running our annual tour which has covered a large piece of New Zealand. Starting in Auckland on the 8th we have visited Wellington, Christchurch, Greymouth, Westport, Napier, Gisborne, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Whangarei and finally finishing back in Auckland on the night of the 27th. Along the way we have used Ja1275, J1211, Ab663, Jb1236 and Ka942 and met some wonderful people. Thank you to our members and KiwiRail staff who helped to make this tour such a success. Our overseas visitors were blown away by the trains we operated and the beauty of New Zealand. All of them vowed to recommend us to their friends back home and spread the word that New Zealand is the place to come for some fantastic steam action. Over the next week we will add photos from the tour to our Gallery Section so check in from time to time for a look.

September 26th 2010.
It is the second day of the Parnell Depot Open Weekend today. The weather is currently, treating us well and despite a bit of wind the sun is shining as this is written. Good crowds turned out yesterday and we hope the same will happen today. The Bagnall is in steam giving rides and there is a lot of interest in the progress being made on Ja1240. If you didn't make it yesterday come along today for a look. Remember that if you produce your MLS membership card you get in for free.
Coaling the Bagnall






September 26th 2010.
With the Super City Elections coming up in Auckland this was a billboard we just couldn't disagree with.






September 14th 2010.
On Saturday 18th Ja1275 will be leading the official train from the Strand station through to Onehunga for the opening of the rebuilt Onehunga branch. This train is a co-operative effort between Mainline Steam, Railway Enthusiasts Society, ARTA, KiwiRail and Veolia. The train will be made up of Ja1275, two RES carriages and MAXX DC4444. Arrival time for the Official train in Onehunga is 1030am. The branch will be open for public trains the following day with scheduled services between Onehunga and Britomart. If you are in the area come along and say hi. Remember to stay off railway property while taking photographs.

September 13th 2010.
Well done to the team in Christchurch who ran a successful trip to Arthurs Pass and return on Sunday 12th. This despite the fact they have all been shaken around over the last week and the weather turned sour in the afternoon with heavy rain.

September 6th 2010.
Despite the damages to tracks around the Christchurch area KiwiRail track gangs have been working hard to repair the lines and restore services. As a result of their efforts the Midland line is now open and we will be able to operate the last Arthurs Pass steam excursion for this year on the 12th of September. All other repairs should be completed before we operate the tour in October so no changes should be required.

Important News: 04/09/2010.
Our Christchurch team have now checked our depot. There is no major damage although virtually all the crockery in the lunch room has been destroyed and tools have been thrown off shelves. The Ab was on jacks having work done and has collapsed off the jacks although no damage has been done. Jb1236 is OK. None of our members have reported any injuries at this stage. All the Christchurch team have responded well to the emergency despite them all suffering personal loses. Updated 2:53pm.

The Midland Mountaineer will have to be cancelled. The Midland line has been damaged just out of Rolleston and it is not known at this stage when it can be re-opened. The Tranz Scenic carriages are currently trapped in their depot due to damage to the depot. All signaling is also out of action in the Christchurch area. Our members in the area are reporting damage to their homes both internal and external. The Earthquake was 7.4 and centered 30km's west of Christchurch. Several buildings have collapsed in central Christchurch. We apologise to all our passengers but there is nothing we can do at present. Updated 08:34am.

There has been an earthquake in Christchurch this morning. We are currently trying to gather further information. If you are booked on the Midland Mountaineer please go to the station at the appointed time. We will have MLS representatives available there who will keep you updated. After such and event all bridges and lines will have to be checked for damage. Once we know more on the state of the line we will update our representatives. Updated 6:11am.

September 1st 2010.
Mainline Steam in conjunction with RES/GVR will be operating Ja1275 from the Strand Station to Onehunga on the 18th September for the official opening of the refurbished Onehunga Branch. The train will use RES carriages to carry dignitaries and officials to the opening. The line will be open to the public for passenger services on the 19th of September. I will publish more details as they become available.

July 31st 2010.
A great trip with the Main Trunk Trekker from Auckland to National Park and return. This is a long day trip starting in Auckland at 5am and returning at 11:30pm. It is, however, an adventure that takes us through the pastoral grasslands of the Waikato and on into the more rugged central North Island culminating in a climb up the Raurimu Spiral to National Park in the shadow of Mount Ruapehu. From here passengers are transferred by bus to the Grand Chateau for a meal before busing back to Taumarunui to rejoin the train home. During the course of the trip we had some photo runs, two during the day on the way and then a spectacular night run on the way home. There is a short video here showing some scenes from the trip. Some photos are available here. If you missed the trip this year make sure you book when it becomes available next year.

July 20th 2010.
Work has been progressing on Ja1240 with new bearings being fitted to three of the main axles and overhaul of the tender body, underframe and bogies commenced. If you have checked in on the progress for a while take a look at the photos here.

July 5th 2010.
On Sunday July 4th J1211 and Jb1236 were both in action in different Islands. J1211 was standing in for Feildings Wab on the Tranz Scenic Overlander Steam Engine Sunday and Jb1236 was running our first 2010 season winter trip to Arthurs Pass. Both trips ran without problems. The Arthurs Pass trip saw 1236 running under clear blue skies with snow capped mountains as a backdrop and J1211 did some excellent running between Taihape and Palmerston North to make up some time lost by the Overlander north of Taihape. By all accounts a great day was had by everyone on both excursions. Mark Stout has been kind enough to provide some photos of 1211 at Taihape. The two photos here show 1211 being turned at Taihape and departing south with the Overlander.

The photos below are compliments of Richard Cocker and were taken during the 4th of July trip to Arthurs Pass. More photos are available here.

June 25th 2010.
Saturday 19th June saw us head to Hamilton for the Fieldays. This year, as well as taking a trainload to the Fieldays, we also ran an excursion to Waharoa and return which was sold locally. The whole day was a great success with hundreds turning out to ride and view the train. Despite threats of rain the weather held out giving those that went to the Fieldays a dry day to view the exhibits and it also meant we were able to do a photo run on the Waharoa leg of the trip. Thank you to PGG Wrightson at Walton for allowing us to use their yard as a vantage point. Some photos from the day are available here.

June 3rd 2010.
On Saturday the 29th May Ja1275 led our excursion to Whangarei from Auckland. With all the work that has been taking place on the western line this was the first opportunity to operate the Northlander in some years. The weather leading up to Saturday was terrible with heavy rain and high winds in many areas, including Northland. However, Saturday was one out of the bag with sunny skies and only a couple of showers to deal with. One of the major projects on the western line has been the new station at New Lynn which is now located in a trench. Ja1275 can now lay claim to being the first steam locomotive to pass through the trench and station. North of Helensville the North Auckland Line (NAL) is currently one long speed restriction with one after another. It was pleasing to see KiwiRail does have the Tamper on the line working to improve it. We did manage a couple of photo runs on the way north and the stop at Wellsford gave passengers and locals a great chance to get up close to the locomotive with many taking the chance to have their photo taken in front of the engine and to have a look in the cab. At Whangarei a number of passenger took the side trip to the museum while others went into town for some lunch and a look around. For the return trip we had to add a diesel in front of the steam locomotive as there was not enough steam crews from KiwiRail to operate the Ja back to Auckland. The return trip went as smoothly as the outward trip and we arrived back in Auckland right on time with a train load of tired, but very happy, passengers. A short video shot on the day can be seen here. There is also a video of Ja1275 on the Whangarei turntable here. This turntable is from Taneatua.

May 20th 2010.
Jb1236 passed her annual visual boiler inspection and had the radio certificate redone as well.
The boiler was washed out two weeks ago and is very clean inside, there are some other small jobs to complete as well as a live steam test before we head to The Pass on July 4.
Several bolts have been removed from Kb 968's tender and these will be replace by rivets, we are working on getting the remaining baffles in place inside the tender.
We now have a new roller door on road 2, the container that was beside the building has been shifted over by the boundary fence on the south side of the complex, the yard is being tidyed and the ballast level is being raised to railhead height to make easier walking and working conditions, the outside pit has had covers made and fitted.
We are planning on refitting the Hiab to Urk66 in the near future and Uc2753 is in line to be painted shortly, Ab663 is waiting for 1236 to clear the pit so we can do some jobs on it.
We have also gained a few new members lately which is good to see, we have two mechanics and a cabinetmaker/ex NZR shunter, and a retired engine driver along now.

May 7th 2010.
Mainline Steam is on Twitter. The @ name is mainlinesteam.

May 7th 2010.
Parnell Progress.

Our main project, the overhaul of Ja 1240 continues with good progress being made.With the boiler now back on the frame new cladding has been made up and fitted
to the firebox and the throat sheet cladding is now under repair.The cab was refitted last night to allow the mounting holes to be drilled to match the frame and to ensure it is straight (it wasn't), once this is complete it will be removed for final painting and finishing.

The steam pipes from the header to the cylinders have all been fitted and work has started on a new set of super heater elements. A start has been made on cutting out the cracked RH cylinder liner, once this has been done the spare liner will be machined and fitted.The left hand guide bars, piston and new rings have all being fitted and the guide bars aligned.

The tender was recently dismantled and work is now underway on cleaning and painting all the component parts.The bearings on one bogie have been cleaned and checked with only two bearings requiring replacement, refurbishment of the brake gear is underway for both bogies.The tender underframe is about 50% cleaned and painted and should be complete next week.

Ja 1275 has also received some attention recently with the mechanical lubricator stripped down for cleaning and reseating the valves in the pumps which were found to be leaking and suspected of being the cause of the erratic feeding on recent outings.

On top of all that shunter training and refreshers are underway and a planned review of our Safety Systems, never a dull moment.

Also a hats off to our Christchurch members who at short notice prepared Ab 663 to stand in for the Wab during its problems while down south, and some of whom
took time off work to then help repair the Wab.

April 23rd 2010.
Work is progressing on Ja1240 with cladding and insulation being applied to the boiler and the cab getting new rivets all round. The tender has also been starter with the body being removed from the underframe and the bogies also being separated for inspection and cleaning. Photo here.

Mainline Steam has also been involved with the Fielding and District Rail Societies tour of the South Island over the last several days. Unfortunately their Wab  locomotive suffered a few problems on the way to Christchurch from Picton. Mainline Steam was able to step in and provide our Ab663 for their train to Waipara the next day and then to Greymouth a couple of days later. The Wab was based in our depot while repairs were undertaken before it was towed to Greymouth to catch up with their train. The Ab waited in Greymouth until the Wab headed back to Christchurch and came back on that train.Today the Fielding train departed for Picton as the first part of their return journey to Fielding.

April 12th 2010.
The Easter Weekend event at Ferrymead went very well with Ab663 and Jb1236 went very well and congratulations are in order to all the Christchurch team. Ab663 also ran a successful trip to the Weka Pass Railway on the 10th of April. Unfortunately Weka Pass A428 was out of action so we weren't able to double head over the Weka Pass as originally intended. However, Ab663 handled the train without incident over the line. While there 663 was the first locomotive to water from the newly installed water vat. Thank you to Weka Pass for hosting us. Photos are here.

March 30th 2010.
Ab663 & Jb1236 are going to the Ferrymead Heritage Park in Christchurch over the Easter weekend where they will be in steam and operating over the Ferrymead line. If you are in the area make sure you get along for a look and say hello to the Christchurch team.

March 25th 2010.
The restoration of Ja1240 took a big step forward today with the refurbished boiler being placed back on the underframe. A photo is here.

March 10th 2010.
is safely back in the Parnell depot after a successful sojourn to the Bay of Plenty for the Kiwi Festival. As well as the trips there and back we operated a day of shuttle trains between Mount Maunganui and Te Puke and ran a charter train to Kawerau and return and a public excursion to Matata. The train brought people out in their thousands to see it and on the Saturday trip to Matata the train was sold out and the roads jammed with spectators. We took every opportunity to allow people a look in the cab of Ja1275 and many, many families will now have a photo of their child in the cab. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all the KiwiRail staff for their hospitality while we were in the area. It helped to make for a successful trip. Photos are posted here.

March 2nd 2010.
The weekend of the 27th and 28th February was a busy one for Mainline Steam.Our Wellington Depot was support the Kiwi Hutt Workshops by exhibiting Ka942 and Aa1013. Both were very well received and although Ka942 was not permitted to run it made its presence known with load blasts of the whistle. Meanwhile Some of our Auckland team traveled to Mount Maunganui on Saturday 27th with Ja1275 and on the Sunday operated a series of shuttle trains between Mount Maunganui and Te Puke. These went very well with lots of people turning out to ride the trains and to see Ja1275 in operation. The Sunday morning started with a Tsunami warning just as 1275 was be fired up in Mount Maunganui yard. As many of you will know that yard is not very far above sea level. Everyone was looking around for something to climb should the Ports warning alarms go off. However, the warning was lifted just before the train departed for it's first run of the day.

February 26th 2010.
Ka942 and Aa1013 will be heading out to Hutt Shops today for Open Day on Sunday 28th February. It is 70 years, this year, since Ka942 rolled out of the gates of Hutt to begin its career with New Zealand Railways so it is appropriate that it should be on display on Sunday. Aa1013 is a little older being built in Petone in 1908. Both pieces of equipment are being provided to the Hutt shops free of charge by Mainline Steam. As well as these historic pieces of equipment, visitors will be able to see Dx and Dc locomotives and some of the modern track maintenance equipment as well as a chance to see inside the shops. Entry to the Open day will be via Bell Road, Lower Hutt from 11am to 4pm with gold coin donation. All funds raised go to local ambulance services.

February 25th 2010.
is in steam and ready to go for the trip to the Kiwi Festival on Saturday. Mainline Steam will be operating a number of trips as part of the Kiwi Festival starting on Sunday with shuttle trains to Te Puki from Hull Road in Mount Maunganui. Please remember if you are coming out to see the train keep off railway property and in particular stay out of rail yards at Mount Maunganui and Kawerau. Good views can be had from public property so please stay safe and don't trespass.

February 19th 2010.
On the 18th February 2010 we provided Ja1275 for the re-opening of the old Auckland signal box which has been converted to office space for a company called Datamine. They have done a terrific job of preserving this building which would have otherwise probably been demolished. We provided Ja1275 free of charge for their corporate event in recognition of their efforts. All the guests were given a short cab ride and 1275 proved to be the star of the party. Some photos are available here.

February 18th 2010.
is going to a corporate function this afternoon to celebrate the refurbishment of the old Auckland Signal Box. It has been leased by a company called Datamine and they have turned it into their offices. A short video of Ja1275 being fired up can be found here.

February 10th 2010.
has passed a milestone in its restoration today by successfully passing the hydro pressure test on its boiler. This means the boiler can now be reunited with the frame and from here on it's basically like a big kit set that has to be put back together. Well done to Lindsay and all involved. A video can be seen here.

February 2nd 2010.
Ka 942
will be going to the Hutt Workshops Open Day on the 28th February. It will be in steam and operating over the Test track during the day.

January 18th 2010.
The Kiwi Festival excursions are all go so see our Excursion page for all the booking details. This trip will be hauled by Ja1275.

Our Christchurch Depot has undergone a change of Manager over the Christmas break. Richard Baird has stood down and Lindsay Challis has now taken on the job. Richard has done an excellent job over the last few years but also has a number of other interests to pursue and found that the amount of time being spent with Mainline was increasing to the detriment of other interests. He will still be involved in a more relaxed capacity as a volunteer and is currently working on the rehabilitation of the diesel shunter. His efforts over the past few years have been very much appreciated. 

November 20th 2009.
will be operating three trips for the Feilding & Districts Steam Rail Society while their Wab class is being repaired.
The trips are:

Saturday 21 November 2009       Mystery Wine and Dine 

Sunday 6 December 2009           Mauriceville Country Fair

Sunday 13 December 2009         Palmerston North to Feilding to attend Feilding Christmas Parade.

November 8th 2009.
Today saw the Kaipara Cannonball excursion from Auckland to Helensville and return. It was a great success with over 300 people riding the train to Helensville where the Historic Weekend was in full swing. The train was met by a brass band and hundreds of people. The trip up and back saw the roads jammed with onlookers photographing the train and waving as it went past. Well done to the people of Helensville for putting on an excellent display throughout the town. Some photos are available here.

Also over this weekend we provided our Bagnall locomotive to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway for their Thomas Weekend. As usual it was great hit with the kids. There are some photos here in our Gallery section.

October 29th 2009.
The Mainline Steam Tour
is over for another year and what a great time we had. My thanks to all the Mainline Steam volunteers who worked really hard preparing and operating the two locomotives used on the tour. Let no one underestimate the logistics of putting two steam locomotives out on the mainline and running from one end of the South Island to the other without fault. As an organisation Mainline Steam is blessed with a number of enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers who are not easily phased by any small matters that may arise.

The weather treated us kindly and we had some excellent days with some good photo runs. The passengers have all expressed how pleased they have been with the tour with many saying it has been one of the best run tours they have been on anywhere in the world. All good stuff for Mainline Steam and New Zealand tourism.

It was also pleasing to see the huge number of people that turned out in all the towns we visited to see the train. The trip to Invercargill went well with all the local business' benefiting  by our train dropping 200 passengers into the city for two hours.

Thanks are also in order to the KiwiRail staff we came in contact with and to the volunteers of the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, Weka Pass and Plains Railway which we visited during the course of the tour. They all put on a great show for us and everyone enjoyed the visits.

October 21st 2009. Our Steam tour is currently under way and if you would like to keep up with the event there are photos being posted here.

September 29th 2009.
Work is progressing on Ja1240 with the last of the rivets being put into the repaired sections of the firebox and new tubes and flues being installed in the boiler. For some video of the riveting process you can have a look here.

September 21st 2009.
Theopen weekend went very well with lots of families coming to have a look around the Parnell Depot and ride the trains. There were lots of smiles from both adults and children alike and some parents had trouble convincing the little ones it was time to leave. Thank you to members of the Parnell Historic Society who helped man the gate and collect the admissions. For some pictures of the weekend please go here. or there are some truly different and stunning photos here.

September 16th 2009.

As many of you will know we have been having a major problem with our website. After a major meltdown at our hosting company, which lasted for two weeks, we took the decision to move hosting companies. As you can tell, by the fact that you are reading this, we are now back online. We would like to thank our new hosting company LCWSoft for all their assistance in getting us back up and running.

September 7th 2009.
TheMidland Mountaineer was an interesting trip this year. The weather was stunning for both days and we had a great mix of people onboard, including a number form Australia, who had flown in especially for this trip.Thank you to everyone who has provided positive feedback on the journey. Unfortunately on the Sunday our KiwiRail driver took ill before we left Greymouth for the return journey and KiwiRail was unable to provide a replacement so we ended up with a diesel on the front. I am pleased to report the driver is fully recovered and back at work. If you would like to see some photos from the weekend please go here.

August 16th 2009.
The Main Trunk Trekker Excursion went very well yesterday, with over 200 people enjoying the day out to the CeJa 1275 @ Mangapehintral North Island. Passenger who went to the Chateau for a meal reported a sumptuous feast. We managed 3 photo runs through the day including one on the Raurimu Spiral. Thank you to all the volunteers and the KiwiRail staff who helped make this a great day out. 

August 13th 2009.
On Saturday 15th the Main Trunk Trekker will be operating from Auckland to National Park, and return. Departure from Auckland is 5am. The train is due in Hamilton 7:40am, Taumarunui 11:25am, National Park 1:40pm. If you are intending to get out and take some photographs please make sure you do so from public property. The last trip we operated a member of the public, not associated with our train, was seen taking photos off the end of the platform. Although it was nothing to do with us and we moved the person back on to the platform it was recorded by other authorities as an incident and we had to spend time answering emails and phone calls about it. So please, by all means come out to see the train but stay on public property and off the rail corridor. If you are asked to leave an area by our crew, or KiwiRail crews, please do so without argument. 

If you do get some good photos please send us a copy. You may see it on our website.

August 10th 2009.
The trip to Arthurs Pass yesterday went very well. A number of photostops were held in each direction and despite the departure being delayed by 15 minutes out of Christchurch the train arrived on time into Arthurs Pass. All the passengers enjoyed the excursion with the stunning weather co-operating to make a great day out. The photo (left) shows Jb1236 at Kowai Bush. Photo by Max Anderson.Jb1236

August 4th 2009.
Thank you
to the supporters of Mainline Steam who turned up to the interesting public meeting last night.

July 5th 2009.
hauled the first steam excursion of the winter season to Arthurs Pass today on a sold out trip. The locomotive performed well after its repairs and all the passengers had a great time. There was even snow on the ground at Arthurs Pass. The next trips are the 9th of August and 13th September so if you want a seat for this fantastic steam experience don't delay booking. Photos from this trip can be seen here.

June 27th 2009.
completed a successful break in run to Rolleston and back this afternoon.

June 20th 2009.
today completed a full steam test. After suffering some fairly serious damage to one of its cylinders during the New Zealand Steam Tour last year the Christchurch have put in many hours of evening and weekend work to complete the repairs. It was very satisfying to them to see 1236 move out of the shed under its own power on Saturday. They deserve a large pat on the back for their efforts. A couple of photos are posted here.

June 17th 2009.
On June 13th we operated the Fieldays train from Auckland to Hamilton. This went well with Hamilton turning on a fine day for all who went to the Fieldays. Passengers arrived back at the train with a variety of purchases from the day. It was interesting to see that the platform awning at Hamilton station has been demolished. Apparently the steelwork was rusting away and it was felt to be unsafe.There is a photo of the train at Hamilton station here.

June 8th 2009.
Yesterday Mainline Steam and KiwiRail put on an Open Day at Sturges Road station as part of the consultation process for the proposed Mainline Steam Depot in the area. Ja1275 was there and we ran short shuttle trips to the area of the proposed depot. The day was a great success with close on 2000 people turning out for a look and to talk to Mainline Steam people. By far there was an overwhelming sense of support.Thank you to everyone who came along for a look. I have posted some photos here.

June 2nd 2009.
Over Queens Birthday weekend the Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand held their annual Conference in Christchurch.At the awards dinner Mainline Steam was presented with two awards. The A&G Price award for Best Steam Locomotive Restoration for Ja1275 and the Taieri Gorge Railway Award for Best Carriage Restoration for Aa1013. Both awards are a credit to the many people who gave freely of their time and effort to make the restoration of Ja1275 and Aa1013 possible.

May 27th 2009.
Mike and Lindsay are busy fitting the new liners to Jb1236. Some photos are available here.

May 26th 2009.
On Sunday June 7th Mainline Steam, in conjunction with KiwiRail, will be holding an Open Day based at the Sturges Road station to inform people of our plans for the new depot at Paremuka. Ja1275 will be there and short, free, train rides will be available to a location beside the proposed site. Hopefully lots of our supporters will turn up. 

Ja1275 and carriages will be towed in reverse from Parnell to Swanson by a KiwiRail diesel and are due to arrive in Swanson at 9:20am. It will then steam back to Sturgess Road ready for the days event.

May 22nd 2009.
Mechanical Test Train 14. In the earl hours of this morning Ja1275 and Dbr1282 left the Mainline Steam Depot at Parnell and headed for Newmarket to see if a Ja1275 could negotiate the curve between the Newmarket, which runs past our depot, and the North Auckland Line. Since this curve was relayed with all the alterations taking place at this junction there has been conjecture about the ability of the Ja to get around the curve which is fitted with a tight check rail. I am pleased to report that Ja1275 is now cleared to, once again, tread the NAL. For some great pictures of the the test, courtesy of Geoff Blackmore, visit our Gallery page here.

May 13th 2009.
Paremuka Depot.

Mainline Steam is negotiating with KiwiRail regarding a move from our current Parnell Depot to a new one we would like to build on the western line between Ranui Station and Sturgess Road. Our proposal is vastly different from the ARTA proposal that local residents had stopped. Frankly I personally would have fought that proposal if I had lived in that area as it would have put a large servicing facility right on the boundary of a residential area. Our proposal is half the size and does not require 24 hour a day 7 days a week operation. It also backs onto a current industrial area with the nearest house 120 meters away. Contrary to what some people think we do not operate steam locomotives every day or in fact every month. Mainline Steam is also a community based organisation which is very approachable should any resident wish to speak to us.

Grant and I have spent some time attending community board and resident meetings to put forward the proposal. It has been interesting that at all the meetings we
have been followed out by members of the local community, who were at the meetings for other matters, saying they hope we do come to the area as they think it would be fantastic.

It is true that this has been brought about by KiwiRail wishing to maximize their return on the Parnell site, conservatively valued at about $20 million, and we do not blame them for this. They could have just terminated the lease and told us to go but deserve credit for supplying assistance in helping us find an alternative site and deal with the council boards. We firmly believe that our proposal for the area is a good one and will bring benefits to the surrounding business and community. Our current depot is also a popular place for schools to visit and we see the new one as being no different.

If you live in the Western Districts of Auckland or in the Ranui and Swanson area and would like to offer positive support for Mainline Steam setting up our new Depot at this location you can write to the local council and to the Western Leader newspaper. There is a list of contacts available here. If you email any of these people please copy us in.  

May 2nd 2009.
Today we uplifted A2004 from the main street of Te Kuiti where it has served as a burger bar since 2000. We have moved it to Auckland and into storage for later assessment. Some photos are here.

April 23rd 2009.
Napier - Gisborne Railway. The following is the reply to my letter to the Hon John Key regarding this line.

Thank you for your email of 13 April 2009 to the Minister of Tourism, Hon John Key.
The Associate Minister of Tourism, Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman is responsible for all tourism correspondence.  Your email has been placed before Hon Dr Coleman for his consideration.

Yours sincerely
Kara Bonnevie

Private Secretary Tourism

If you would like to support Mainline Steam in keeping this line open for development of rail tourism you might like to write to the Honorable Dr Jonathan Coleman at this email address.

April 19th 2009.
Today we had 20 members of the Parnell Historical Society visit our Parnell Depot for a look around. All were extremely interested in the work we are undertaking and felt we were an asset to the area.

March 30th 2009.
The Sunday Lunch trip to the Vilagrad Winery was a great success yesterday.Everybody ate their fill and sampled the wines on offer. Ja1275 performed well and the volunteers at the Parnell Depot did a great job shining it to perfection.You can see some photographs from the trip here.

March 26th 2009.
There is a follow up in the Gisborne Herald to the item below. Go here for the story.

March 25th 2009.
The following article has appeared in the Gisborne Herald.

Gisborne's railway line south could be given a new lease of life as a tourism facility, with confirmation yesterday that Gisborne-Napier is one of the routes being looked at as a cycleway.
The line is now carrying only one train a week and is not on the schedule to be upgraded for the high-format containers required for modern shipping. To meet this configuration would mean extensive modifications to somewhere between 15 and 20 tunnels along this route.

Tourism New Zealand is promoting the line as a side-route to the $50 million cycleway proposal that came out of Prime Minister John Key's job summit.A similar route along the railway corridor in Central Otago - the "Rail Trail" - attracts between 10,000 and 12,000 people a year, bringing new vitality to small communities from Clyde to Middlemarch. Opening up the Gisborne-Napier line would do similar things in this region, said BikeNZ development manager John Willmer. Tourism New Zealand was meeting Ontrack today to discuss the proposal, which is still in its very early stage.

Tourism New Zealand figures show that of the 2,469,000 visitors to New Zealand last year, 45,000 took part in cycling. Cycling tourists stayed more than twice as long as other international tourists and spent almost twice as much. BikeNZ believes the Gisborne-Napier railway corridor would be a tremendous asset for tourism here. It provides a great route away from traffic. It has a good gradient, which would be easy to ride, and it has great scenery. Using the corridor does not mean the line would have to be removed or sealed.

Cycleways could be formed from hard-packed gravel, which was already present alongside many parts of the railway corridor and in other places it might be physically possible to put it within the lines. Ontrack spokesman Kevin Ramshaw would not comment on the financial viability of the line but confirmed it now carries only one train a week - to Gisborne and back to Napier - which is well below what Ontrack wants. Mr Willmer said the local concept would depend on the community's view. At present only a small part of the line is regularly used by Gisborne's Wa 165 steam train, but there are at least one or two larger steam excursions via Napier here each year. Mr Willmer believes the safety aspect would have to be well thought out if the line is used for cycling in conjunction with a train movement.

Our opinion.

This would be a tragedy for New Zealand. This is a spectacular line which rivals the Midland line. Mainline Steam, in particular would be interested in operating more excursions over this line if better agreements could be reached regarding costs and crewing. With the rapid demise of steam operations in other countries, notably South Africa, New Zealand is poised to become the steam mecca of the world. Our varied and well maintained assortment of mainline locomotives and professional organizations that operate them, along with our fantastic scenery and friendly people is giving New Zealand a name as the place to go for steam action. Steam enthusiasts are avid travelers and often spend in higher priced accommodation and attractions which is exactly the kind of tourist New Zealand needs.

We also see the possibility of a Savannahlander type  operation like we currently operate in Queensland operating over this line. In Queensland the operation of this train has reduced unemployment and increased services in the towns that it visits.

As New Zealanders we need to speak out loud now to save these potential tourist goldmines or at the very least ensure ways where both ideas can co-exist. I urge you to write to the Minister of Tourism, John Key and lobby for the retention of this line. His email address is john.key@national.org.nz

We would also urge those of you who have visited New Zealand and ridden on an excursion over this line to lend your support and keep trains running over this line.

March 23rd 2009.
Our Bagnalreturned from Glenbrook on Friday after an extended trip to the GVR where it featured in a number of their Open Days. It was unloaded off the rail wagon on Saturday and is now safely tucked up in our depot. A photo can be seen here.

February 23rd 2009.
The trip to the Driving Creek Railway went well yesterday. Despite the early start from Parnell everyone was ready and there was time for a look around the shed before we left Parnell. The previous two day had seen heavy rain and we headed south under overcast skies. The rain held off and we had an excellent trip over the Driving Creek Railway to the Eyeful Tower and the summit of the line. When we returned to the terminus the owner of the line, Barry Brickell, was there to answer questions and chat to our group and tea, biscuits and cake had been laid on for us. We also got a chance to look around the new wildlife sanctuary at the DCR which is not yet open to the public.

All in all an excellent day out.


February 15th 2009.
Ka942 completed its leg of the 100th Anniversary Special today. Running from Feilding to Wellington. Unfortunately there was a problem with the blower pipe but out loco reps managed to use some good old Kiwi ingenuity and make a repair which saw 942 back in action and heading the train into Wellington and putting on a great show for all who watched from track side. Thank you to those of you sending in your photographs. I have posted some of them here in the gallery section.

February 14th 2009.
For a nice piece of video by Don Moffat of the Ka in action go here.

February 12th 2009.
is heading for Feilding this morning.

TheGlenbrook Steam Festival was a great success from our point of view, and I'm sure from Glenbrook's point of view it was also a great success. The weekend gave our Steam Reps a chance to operate trains both driving and firing and keep their skills up to date. It also gave some of the Glenbrook crews a chance to fire an oil burner as all of their locomotives are coal burners. All the trains operated smoothly and efficiently with hundreds of people enjoying their trip over the GVR. Photos from the weekend are available in the Gallery section of our website.

February 10th 2009.
Just a reminder that Ka942 will be steaming from Plimmerton to Feilding on the 12th February in preparation for its run on the Special train on the 15th. As ususal if you intend to photograph the move please stay off railway property. Departure from Plimmerton is scheduled for 10am.

February 9th 2009.
You may have noticed on our front page and on our Links page that there is now a Facebook logo.We have set up a page on this Social Networking site and if you have a Facebook log on click on the logo and you will be taken to our page. You can apply to become a friend of Mainline Steam. Once accepted you can post questions about Mainline Steam. It is an adjunct to these web pages so give it a try.

February 8th 2009.
has been putting on a great show at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway Steam Weekend. For photos from the Saturday see here.

February 2nd 2009.
Over the weekend of January 31st and February 1st a number of the operational volunteers at our Parnell depot underwent refresher courses for their Safety Protocols. As part of the refresher each person had to don a gas mask and then change a brake hose. While changing a brake hose is not that difficult the gas mask changes your line of site and your breathing pattern. These courses are held at all our depots as part of our requirement for operating on the mainline. The accompanying photo shows Ian McKay changing the brake hose on Uc1190.

January 21st 2009.
On the 14th and 15th February
Kiwirail will be operating a train from Auckland to Wellington to celebrate the 100th Anniversay of the first official passenger service over the Main Trunk. As part of those celebrations Ka942 will lead the train from Feilding to Wellington on Sunday the 15th. A timetable for the train is available here. Please remember that if you are out photographing the train do so in a safe manner. Also if you get some great photos you would like to share email some to us for possible use in our newsletter or on our website.
For further information the official Tranz Scenic page can be found here.

January 14th 2009.
will be travelling to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway to operate over that line on the 7th and 8th February as part of their Steam Festival. You can download a poster for the event here. Ja1275 will be steaming out on Saturday morning and returning to Parnell on Sunday evening. Departing Parnell 8am on the Saturday.

Ja1240 December 8th 2009.
has had the boiler removed from the frame so the work on the frame can be completed and to make it easier to access the boiler firebox and fit the new boiler tubes. Some photographs have been posted here in the Gallery Section.

November 18th 2008.
has now had its driving wheels re-installed. This loco is one that generally sits in the background and is worked away at by a small group of volunteers. All theBb144 bearings were machined over a period of time and refitted to the axles, then the locomotive was positioned over the drop pit so the axles could be lifted back into place using the pits ram. Once the wheels were in place the locomotive was hauled around the yard to check they all rotated OK and clearances were correct.

November 6th 2008.
Our New Zealand tour is over for another year. Despite a few challenges along the way everyone seemed to have a good time and lots of new friends were made. The train was a mini United Nations with people from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. The weather treated us kindly and throughout the entire journey we only had two days of rain and even they were punctuated with fine spells. The last weekend of the tour saw us participate in the Centennial  Celebrations at Feilding. There was a great collection of steam locomotives as well as a number of events taking place around the town. The weekend got off to an interesting start for our passengers. Our train traveled down from Napier to Palmerston North and as we arrived at North Junction, just outside Palmerston North yard we were held while Ja1271 steamed past with a Steam Inc. train heading for Feilding. On arrival into Palmerston North Station we found F163 waiting to depart with a train for Woodville. It must be some time since Palmerston North saw so much steam activity. To see some photographs of the feilding event have a look in our Gallery section. We are currently collating photos from the tour and they will soon appear there as well. 

September 21st 2008 saw the last of the winter excursions to Arthurs Pass for this year. We will be back there again next year with trips in June, July and August. InOtorama October our tour train will be operating to Arthurs Pass and return on the 16th. The trip on the 21st went well with all the passengers enjoying the Alpine scenery. One of those passengers, Steve Fitz - Gerald sent in this photo taken on Otorama Bank on the way home.

September 13th 2008.
The Main Trunk Trekker
ran to National Park and back today. Although the weather wasn't the best everyone seemed to enjoy the trip and the lunch at the Chateau. Ja1275 performed extremely well handling the train with ease. Lunch at the Chateau was excellent with everyone eating their fill. If anyone who was on the train has some photographs they would like to share from the Chateau please email them here.
Meanwhile there are some photographs here.

September 8th 2008.
The Midland Mountaineer
ran from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass over the weekend of the 6th and 7th September. This was a highly successful trip with the weather turning on blue sky days and plenty of good photo stops along the way. Jb1236 put on a fine show over the weekend. We will be operating this trip again next year so keep an eye on our web site for details. In the meantime take a look at some photographs on our Gallery pages.

5th August 2008.
On Sunday the 3rd Jb1236 hauled a very successful excursion from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass. Despite the recent stormy weather the day cleared nicely so everyone could enjoy the splendor of the mountain scenery. We are currently looking at an encore performance for the 21st of September so keep an eye on our Excursion page for details.

30th July 2008.
has been signed off by the various inspectors and has been deemed fit for service on the National Rail Network.

Below is a short history of the carriage.
Built � 1908 at Petone.
Length over headstocks � 50�
Tare Weight � 24 tons

One hundred years ago - and with the first passenger rail journey from Wellington to Auckland ready to begin - carriage 1013 was still in the Petone yards being painted. It made the train then just in time and is now the only carriage from the original train still in existence.  This time was little different with a very tight deadline to finish the restoration and have the carriage inspected and certified as fit to operate on the National Rail Network.

Aa1013 started life as a first class carriage, but was converted to a second class carriage in 1941 and operated in the Wellington area.

When the carriage was retired in 1956 it was donated to the Tokomaru Steam Museum before being purchased by a man who wanted to turn it into a bach at Paihiatua. Those plans never came to pass and the carriage fell into ruin and sat rotting in a field. By the time Ian Welch saw it the interior had been gutted and one side had rotted away. Encouraged by friends, he took on the restoration project. He trucked the carriage to Wairarapa wheelwright Greg Lang, who spent 2 1/2 years returning it to its original glory with his wife, Ali.

While the body work was being repaired, the team at Mainline Steam�s Plimmerton depot repaired the chassis, overhauled the bogies and made a lot of parts that were missing. The Aotearoa nameplate was made by Richard Taylor of Weta Workshops, especially for this carriage.

As the only remaining carriage, from that original passenger train, Aa1013 is an iconic piece of New Zealand rail history and an important part of New Zealand�s industrial history.
28th July 2008.
Over the weekend of the 26th and 27th Mainline Steam operated some shuttle train between Christchurch and Belfast. These trains were to raise funds for Mainline Steam and to help LTNZ promote Rail Safety. Despite the cold, overcast and showery conditions lots of people turned out to take, what was for many, their first train ride. Judging by the positive reaction it won't be their last. Lots of families turned out and the children were excited, and some a little frightened, to be able to get up close to a real live steam engine. Daniel Garland has provided some great photos from the weekend which are in the Gallery section of our web site.

27th July 2008.
Parliamentary Special.

Everyone is down to the wire with arrangements for this exciting event.Starting on the 6th of October a variety of steam locomotives will be hauling a set of vintage carriages from Wellington to Auckland. The current timetable for this event is here. Please bear in mind that it could change closer to the event. You can check the ONTRACK website for updates. Please remember to drive safely and stay off railway property if you intend to chase this train.

8th July 2008.
is making excellent progress at our Plimmerton Depot. The body has now been reunited with the underframe and interior fit out work can now commence. It is
Aa1013 our intention that the carriages first outing will be on the Parliamentary Special in August.

More photographs are here.

7th July 2008.
From the 6th to the 8th of August a special steam hauled train will be operated by ONTRACK from Wellington to Auckland. (See the Parliamentary Special story below)
It will be utilising two of our locomotives Ka942 and Ja1275. We do not, as yet, have the finalised timetable from ONTRACK. When we do we will post a link to it on our web site.

2nd July 2008.
The day after KR Day. (KiwiRail Day). Yes, the Government has purchased back the New Zealand Rail system and named it KiwiRail. Mainline Steam would like to take this opportunity to wish new board of KiwiRail all the very best in their endeavours to rebuild the rail system after many years of neglect.
We have had a number of emails and calls asking what this change will mean to Mainline Steam. The simple answer is that it is too early to say. Suffice to say we have seen lots of change over the years, not all of it good. We have seen rail colour schemes come and go and rail management likewise. We have to be optimistic that there is only one way for New Zealand's rail system now and that is up.We feel strongly that Mainline Steam has always been a proponent of rail in New Zealand and will continue to be so in the future. We will be more than happy to work with the new KiwiRail management to promote a viable New Zealand Rail network for all.

21st June 2008.
made its return to the mainline today with a successful test run from Plimmerton to Palmerston North. It is a testament to the hard work put in by the Mainline members at Plimmerton. Some photos of the run can be found here. Ka942 will be used on the Parliamentary Special in August where it will operate the leg between Taihape and Hamilton. You can ride behind it on the return Governors Special. See the Excursion page for details. Some videos can be seen here and here.

18th June 2008.
Over Queens Birthday Weekend  some members of Mainline Steam attended the annual FRONZ Conference held, this year, in Hamilton. This is always a good
Innovation Award opportunity for Heritage operators to discuss current issues and brainstorm solutions to problems. During the awards dinner Ian Welch, the founder and head of Mainline Steam, received the Paul Dillicar Innovation Award. The award was given to Ian this year for his contributions to the preservation of historic New Zealand Locomotives and his decision to import some endangered South African locomotives into New Zealand. Also for his decision to import and rebuild a number of English Mark II carriages which will be used on our excursion trains to bring an excellent level of comfort to our passengers. The photo by David Turner is of Ian Welch (right) receiving his Award from Paul Dillicar.


15th June 2008.
Our Christchurch team operated another successful trip to Arthurs Pass today. As usual Jb1236 put on a great display and was  beautifully turned out. The photograph to the left is courtesy of Daniel Garland and shows Jb1236 being prepared the night before the excursion. The next trip will be on August the 3rd. Details and a booking form are available now on our excursion page.
14th June 2008.
Today we operated the excursion from Auckland to Hamilton for the Agricultural Fieldays. The trip went very well with everyone enjoying their look into modern dayJa1267 agriculture. After we had arrived back in Auckland, and dropped our happy passengers at the station, we delivered the carriages back to the Tranz Scenic depot at Otahuhu. Once they were clear we coupled on to Ja1267, which we were storing in a building next to the Tranz Scenic Depot, and towed it back to our depot in Parnell. The move went very smoothly. It was somewhat appropriate that were were able to move 1267 with 1275 as we had retrieved Ja1275 from the same Te Awamutu paddock before we rebuilt it. The accompanying ghostly photo was taken just before 1267 started rolling to its new home at Parnell.If 1267 and 1275 could talk I wonder what they would be saying to each other on their reunion?
29th May 2008.
Solid Energy
is a major New Zealand energy company and a leading producer of high quality coal for export and for New Zealand markets. They also operate subsidiary companies Biodiesel New Zealand, Nature�s
Flame and Switch. After being approached by the Ferrymead Trust, which owns Kb968, Solid Energy have agreed to donate $25,000 towards the restoration of the tender of Kb968, which is undergoing restoration in our Christchurch Depot. Mainline Steam and the Ferrymead Trust are extremely grateful to Solid Energy for their assistance which will give added impetus to restoring Kb968, the only surviving Kb, to operating condition.
28th May 2008.
A red letter day today. We have heard from Land Transport New Zealand today to say that they are finally going to issue us with our full Rail Operators License. This has taken many months of work by our Chief Mechanical Officer, Grant Hjorth. This is a very satisfying result, to say the least.
23rd May 2008.
Wellington News. On Saturday 24th May the new underpass from Plimmerton Station will be opened. As part of the event the Mainline Steam Plimmerton Depot will be open for tours. It is expected that Ka942 will be in steam in the yard. An ideal opportunity for you to get a first look at this newly restored locomotive.

5th May 2008.
We have now uplifted Ja1267 today from Te Awamutu. It is being trucked to a covered storage area with a rail connection so we can do some work on it to get it fit to be towed by rail into our depot at Parnell.

23rd April 2008.
Mainline Steam has, today, purchased Ja1267 at auction. This locomotive is currently in storage at Te Awamutu. The intention is to remove it from there and transport it to our Depot in Parnell for full restoration and eventual operation on the mainline.
22nd April 2008.
Ka942 has passed its boiler steam certification this afternoon. Well done to the Wellington team for all their hard work to bring the Ka to this stage. The next step is the independent mechanical inspection followed by a mainline test run.
2nd April 2008.
The Silverstream Railway is celebrating their 25th Anniversary on Sunday 6th April 2008. Gates open at 10:30am. See their website for further details.
31st March 2008.
The Sunday  Lunch trip was a great success.  The weather held out to give us a stunning day and the Vilagrad is a great venue. Ja1275 looked fantastic as we rolled south out of Auckland and there were plenty of people lineside taking photographs or waving to the train. Many of the passengers soon perfected the royal wave. All our passengers seemed to enjoy themselves and there were lots of good comments. If you missed out this time, keep your eye on the web site as we will no doubt be repeating the trip. To see a video of the train you might like to go here.
21st March 2008.
Got some time to spare over Easter, or any day for that matter? Try this web site. 
Have a look at Gallery 48.
21st March 2008.
Jb1236 is spending Easter at Ferrymead in Christchurch as part of their steam weekend. Ontrack and the local Toll crews deserve a big thanks for helping to get 1236Jb1236 from our depot to Ferrymead at no cost. Daniel Garland, one of our Christchurch members, will be keeping us updated over Easter with photographs. There is an album in the Gallery section.
23rd February 2008.
We have added a page which will allow you to download some Mainline Steam wallpapers for your computer. These are for personal use only. 
The Main Trunk Centenary website is also up and running and can be viewed here. 
11th February 2008.
One new feature, you may have noticed on some of our web pages, is a link which takes you to a map page to locate where our train depart from.You can zoom these maps in and out and swap to a satellite view. You can also get detailed directions from one location to another. Here is one for you to try out. 
Let me know what you think and perhaps suggest some other locations.
7th February 2008.
Over the Easter break (21st-24th March) Jb1236 will be on display and in steam at the Ferrymead Historic Park in Christchurch as part of a special rail weekend. If you are in the area make sure you stop by and say hi to members of our Christchurch team who will be looking after the locomotive. Speaking of Christchurch Jb1236 will be hauling shuttle trains to the Rangiora Steam Festival on the 15th March. Tickets are available from Railtours in Christchurch. Telephone 03 342-6450 for tickets. Mainline Steam is NOT selling tickets.
Take a look at the Excursion page as we have added a couple of great excursions. 
10th January 2008.
PARLIAMENTARY SPECIAL : Over the three day period from August 6th to 8th, ONTRACK and the Crown will sponsor a re-run of the Parliamentary
Special that ran in August 1908 to take Parliamentarians to Auckland for the visit of the Great White Fleet. The train will run over three days from Wellington to Palmerston North on 6 August; to Taumarunui on 7 August and finally to arrive in Auckland on 8 August. Seats are likely to be allocated for MP�s, VIP�s, Dignitaries and Celebrities. The train will be hauled by a variety of steam locos supplied by FRONZ members and include former PWD �L� locos 507 & 509 from MoTaT and Silver Stream Railway for a portion of this historic re-run, representing the locos used on the original train. Mainline Steam is looking at providing Ka942, which is nearing the end of its major overhaul, for part of the journey. Other locomotives being considered are Ja1271 and Ja1250 from Steam Incorporated and Glenbrook Vintage Railway respectively. Once the details are finalised we will publish them here on our web site.
RAILFAN CELEBRATIONS : Based at Feilding over Labour Weekend a variety of excursions, short and long will take participants from Woodville to Wanganui and Taumarunui.  Sponsored by the Feilding & District Steam Rail Society and Feilding Promotions, the programme will include locos and rolling stock from a number of FRONZ members and a Cavalcade of Locomotives will be staged at Feilding on Sunday 26 October. It is possible Mainline Steam will operate a railcar from Auckland for these celebrations. We will be participating with a number of our steam locomotives at the event.
8th January 2008.
In early January to ex-Zimbabwe steam locomotives arrived at our Plimmerton Depot. They are a 14A Garratt, number 509, and a 19D class number 2695. Originally destined for scrap in Zimbabwe, Ian Welch managed to purchase them and had them overhauled in Bulawao. There followed many arduous negotiations to get them out of Zimbabwe. In the end Ian and Grant traveled there to negotiate the move out of Zimbabwe into South Africa and onto a ship to New Zealand. I have put some photographs of them being unloaded in the Gallery pages of this website. You might also like to take a look at this website which deals with these locomotives in their homeland.
There is a pdf format technical sheet on the 14A here and the 19D here.
18th December 2007.
Each time we operate on the mainline we are required to purchase insurance for the day. We recently had a summary of those purchases and they show that we were out on the mainline 31 times in the last 12 months. Some of those moves were repositioning moves for the locomotives but in all those moves we never suffered a breakdown or any major operational problems. During the course of this year�s tour we operated 4 different locomotives through both the North and South Island culminating in a 1 day dash from Wellington to Auckland. (Something that hasn�t been done since 1965) In all those days the locomotives never missed a beat which amazed our clients, all of whom are experienced rail travellers and have covered many thousands of miles behind steam in, just about, every part of the globe. In many countries they become resigned to the fact that each day will bring its share of delays and breakdowns. So to average 300 km�s a day without problems was a pleasant surprise.

Our ability to do this must be attributed to all of you who volunteer your time to restore and maintain our fleet. You all deserve a giant pat on the back. We must also thank the Toll and ONTRACK staff who do their best to work with us and provide a stunning steam experience for our clients.

We would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing you all in 2008.
Christchurch Depot.
Currently the focus in the Christchurch Depot is carrying out work on Jb1236 that has been held over pending a break in the running season. The tender has been lifted and both bogies removed to allow the centre castings to have minor cracks repaired, this was carried out on the 6/12/07 and the bogies will be replaced under the tender about Tuesday the 11th Dec. Repairs are also being effected to the drag bars and  a new cab pin is  being turned up. A new petticoat has been fitted to the smoke box, so any difference to steaming will be watched with interest.

Restoration of Kb968 proceeds slowly due to a number of factors mainly finance and personnel that are capable of carrying out this work, being diverted to ensuring that Jb1236 and the accompanying tank cars are up to mainline running standards.

Lindsay Challis is keen to start an evening work group for those that may not be able to get along during the day or on weekends. Please contact him should you wish to come along.

In conclusion I wish to thank all those people who contribute to the smooth running of our Depot and spend many long hours day and night to ensure that the loco and tank cars are in top condition.

From all in our Depot we wish everyone in Mainline Steam a very enjoyable Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
Best Wishes from Richard Baird. 
Wellington Depot.
The main focus of the work over the last couple of months has been work on Ka942. It took some time to get the balance of the locomotive correct and now this has been done work is continuing, in earnest, on the fitting of all the pipe work in preparation for pressure testing and steam testing. The aim is to be able to achieve this before Christmas and Mike Wilcox and team are working hard on this goal.

Work has also been proceeding on the Fm viewing / generator van and a generator has been lifted in. This will be wired to supply power to the train. The vehicle will also act as a luggage van when required.

The Ew is getting a clean up and inspection as well with the intention of displaying the locomotive in Feilding during the Main Trunk celebrations taking place there in October 2008.
21st November 2007.
During October a 56ft postal van, F596, which was in storage at our Parnell Depot was burnt out by vandals. Fortunately the fire brigade was on the scene quickly andfire were able to prevent damage to any other equipment. The van was originally built in 1944 and was in need of restoration. However, it has been decided that it is a total loss and is now being scrapped.
31st October 2007.
Well the tour culminated with a one day dash up the North Island Main Trunk from Wellington to Auckland, a distance of 680km's. It was the first time that has been done behind steam since 1965. Another first for Mainline Steam.Overall we covered a little over 3000km's during the tour without any of our locomotives missing a beat. Well done to all the depots involved. Thanks also to all the Toll crew involved in our operation. We have received a lot of positive feedback from our passengers regarding the operation of the tour and the reliability of our locomotives. Over the coming weeks we will be posting more photographs from the tour in the Gallery section. If you have some you took of our trains during the tour please feel free to submit a few of you best to us for possible inclusion on the site.
18th October 2007.
From Napier we have moved southward through the Wairarapa and today we depart Blenheim for the run down the Kaikoura Coast to Christchurch.
On the run from Napier to Wellington we started out in sunshine but as we turned off at Woodville the clouds and showers appeared and by the time we reached Featherston there was a howling gale with winds up to 130km/h. This didn't deter us from from visiting the Fell Museum, which everyone was very impressed by, and having a great dinner at the local RSA. After dinner, with the wind still battering us, we left Featherston feeling glad that we were going through the 8km long Rimutaka Tunnel, rather than over the summit as our forebears had had to on the Rimutaka Incline.
The next day was much improved and everyone spent the morning exploring Wellington, with many visiting our Wellington Depot, before we boarded the Ferry for the trip to Picton and the start of our South Island adventures.
15th October 2007.
Here we are 4 days into the tour. It is proceeding with a great bunch of people hailing from New Zealand, America, Australia and Great Britian. Despite a rainy first day we have been in sunshine from day 2 and have managed to capture some great images during the photo runs. The atmosphere onboard is convivial with everyone having lots of laughs and making new friends.
After travelling down the Main Trunk to Palmerston North behind Ja1275 we changed to J1211 for the run to Napier and Gisborne and tonight we are back in Napier after an excellent two days to Gisborne and back. Everyone is convinced that the scenery along this line makes for a stunning train journey. I have posted some photos in the Gallery section for you to look at. Sadly they don't really do justice to the line, which can only be truly appreciated in person. 
9th October 2007.
The tour train will be heading away from Auckland on the 12th of October so, as you can probably imagine, things are a bit hectic around our Auckland depot at the moment. However, if you are in Auckland on Thursday the 11th please feel free to come along and visit the depot. A number of our visitors from overseas who are taking the tour will be here having a look around and we will have three locomotives in steam in the yard. (Ja1275, Ba552 and the Bagnal) As well as that TV 3's weather presenter from the new Sunrise breakfast show will be here doing the weather spots for the show from our depot with the locomotives in the background. Let's hope the weather is OK. Anyway, whatever the weather, the loco's will out and in steam.
If you are coming out to see the train as we travel around please remember to stay out of the rail yards and off railway property. By trespassing you are not only endangering your life but you are endangering our ability to operate steam excursions in the future.
28th September 2007.
News from the Christchurch Area.
Recently three trips to Arthurs Pass were successfully run and although a little behind the timetable on arrival at Arthurs Pass running home was ahead and all trips were either on, or, ahead of time on arrival at Christchurch.
The Midland Mountaineer to Greymouth was also highly successful and for the first time ever we were spot on arrival at Greymouth,on the return journey we were well ahead of time at Christchurch. In fact we are on the lookout for an additional photostop on the return trip from the Pass so that if Train Control are willing we may be able work another in. With much work being carried out on Bridges etc it is not always possible to hold photo stops at our favourite sites.
Considerable efforts have been made in the last few years to encourage our Australian cousins to join our trips and this is now paying off, with many individuals and small groups coming over specifically to travel to the Pass and Greymouth.
On the Greymouth trip in particular a group of eleven Aussies mainly engine drivers from N.S.W. and Melbourne made themselves known and a very cordial relationship was struck up. They were very impressed with our organisation and the friendliness of all our on train crew, and will be spreading the word when they are back home.
Depot News.
Considerable, mostly minor, work has been carried out to the Jb and associated tank cars with three of the Mainline Certified tanks all nicely polished and painted. Work on some of the other non mainline wagons over the summer months should see a few of these painted also.
Ian has given approval to purchase an Inverter Welder and this has helped speed up much of the work on welding inside the KB tender. Unfortunately the KB tender is much worse than ever envisaged and every time we replace a plate we find the one next to it also requires replacing. Most of the tender was originally only five mm. plate with the top being 1/8 plate.
Despite this, work is continuing although much slower than we would prefer.
 TR 213 is looking good with just some of the windows to insert, and thanks to a retired 671 Detroit mechanic the problem with smoking has been cured and now runs much cleaner, the main problem was the motor not running at its optimum heat levels.
Finally I must say a big thank you to all the Guys and Gals who spend so much of their time to ensure that the rolling stock are up to scratch, and nicely polished and those that are on the trains put in a big effort to ensure that our fare paying passengers enjoy their day out, the feed back and letters from appreciative passengers are testimony to the good work that goes into these trips.
Richard Baird.
13th September 2007.
Jb1236 and the crew from our Christchurch Depot have now completed a successful season of trips to Arthurs Pass topped off by a fantastic 2 day trip to Greymouth and return on the 8th and 9th of September. The Midland Mountaineer was a fantastic trip with blue skies on both days and tremendous mountain scenery. If you'd like to see some pictures from the trip you can go here.
On Sunday 9th of September the Wellington crew operated the Daffodil Carnival Express between Wellington and Carterton. This trip was sold out with over 350 people taking the opportunity to ride behind J1211 to this colourful annual  festival. Unfortunately many people missed out as the train sold out quickly. Next year we hope to have more seats available.
Coming up in October we will be operating the tour train through New Zealand and there will be the chance for you to ride segments of this trip, should you wish to. see our excursion page for details and the segment booking form. During the course of the trip we will be covering the Napier - Gisborne line and the Christchurch - Greymouth line.
13th August 2007.
Added some photos of J1211 hauling the Overlander.
10th August 2007.
For those of you in New Zealand the August issue of Investigate magazine has an article featuring Mainline Steam. Pages 54-56.
8th August 2007.
The Arthurs Pass trip on the 5th went very well. There was a covering of snow at Arthurs Pass to make things interesting. Kevin Prince has been good enough to send some photographs which I have put in the Gallery section.
On a North Island note, J1211 will be standing in for the Feilding District Rail Societies Wab on the Overlander on Saturday. It will be operating between Feilding and Ohakune.
Restoration work continues on Ja1240 at Parnell. Lindsay is busy needle gunning the interior of the boiler. There are photos of the restoration work here.
30th July 2007
Stop Press. J1211 will be heading up to Palmerston North at 5:30am Friday morning to go to Palmerston North to operate a special train to Taihape and return. While at Taihape it will be used to commission the turntable. Anyone out chasing it and taking photos might like to email 1 or 2 to us.
30th July 2007
On Saturday our little Bagnall was steamed up for the first time after an extensive overhaul that included new cab floor, repairs to the bunker, new boiler tubes and a myriad of smaller repairs. Some gaskets were noted to be leaking and these will be repaired during the week and we should be able to bring the locomotive to full pressure by next weekend. It will be great to have the smallest steam loco in our fleet back in operation.
10th July 2007
The Arthurs Pass trip on the 8th of July was fantastic. The weather co-operated giving us a blue sky day with snow capped mountains as a backdrop to some great steam action. The weather was a crisp minus 2 degrees C as we pulled out of Christchurch station. The carriages were warm however, and everyone on the sold out train soon settled in to enjoy the spectacular scenery rolling past the windows. To see some photos from the excursion you can see this page in the Gallery section. There are more trips on the 5th of August and the 2nd of September so you can experience the excitement first hand. Don't forget the Midland Mountaineer on the 8th and 9th of September to go all the way to Greymouth.These trips are always popular so make sure you get in and book early.
If you were out chasing this trip and have some great photos please pick out two or three of your best and email them here and I will consider them for posting on the website.
26th June 2007
Work has started in earnest on Ja1240 and we have started a photographic record of the restoration. We will add to this over the coming months so you can watch 1240 being returned to life. 
19th June 2007.
Pacific Coast Steamer photos. For a collection of photographs of the Pacific Coast Steamer train we operated on the 2nd of July you might like to see this website. The photos were taken for Tourism Bay of Plenty by a photographer they hired for the day.
11th June 2007.
We have had a letter from the New South Wales Transport Museum which is having a sale of pre-loved books. A full list can be found through their Gift Shop page. There is a list which can be downloaded and the prices look fairly reasonable.
5th June 2007.
On Saturday, June 2nd, we operated the Pacific Coast Steamer from Mount Maunganui to Kawerau and return. This went very well with a little over 400 people riding the train and thousands more watching from lineside and following by car.
Ja1275 went down with its support tank cars on the Friday and them hauled the trip on Saturday. We used the Capital Connection carriages which came up on a special on Friday night. All the passengers were very impressed with the way in which we operated the train and I'd like to take this chance to thank, not only the Mainline Steam volunteers, but also the staff from Toll, Ontrack, Tranz Scenic and United who were very helpful in making this trip a success. Also the staff of Kiwi 360, Tourism Bay of Plenty and Port of Tauranga. It was a pleasure working with you all. I have posted some photos in the Gallery section of the web site. If you have some you took on the day please email your best efforts to me and I'll look at adding them. 
10th May 2007.
The first British MkII coach for Mainline Steam touched down on New Zealand soil at 1:55pm today. Four of the coach's have arrived onboard the container ship Blizzard Bay. They will be trucked to Wellington over the next couple of days to start the refurbishment / rebuilding process. Photo's are here.
4th May 2007.
The team at the Christchurch Depot have been busy restoring their Tr and some photos of their efforts can be seen in Gallery section. The whole team has been involved at some point and Daniel Garland has applied the paint.
2nd May 2007.
Mainline Steam is going to be involved in the Main Trunk Line 100th Anniversary celebrations. These will be based in Feilding with the main organiser being the Feilding District Rail Society.
26th April 2007.
The Go Gisborne trip on the 21st and 22nd of April went very well. Everyone certainly seemed to enjoy themselves and J1211 put on a great show at all the photo runbys. This is certainly a great line and it is great to be able to showcase it once again. I have posted some photographs on in the Gallery section. Unfortunately my camera died on the second day so I didn't get that many photographs from the weekend. However, with all the camera's that were in use over the weekend I would hope that some of the others on the train might like to submit some for use on our web site and, perhaps, in the next edition of our newsletter. If you would like to submit some please pick out 3 or 4 of your favourites from the weekend and email them here.
19th April 2007.
As many of you are aware by now the Gisborne trip this weekend is on. If you are intending to be out at trackside to see and photograph the train please stay well back and stay out of any rail yards, especially when we stop to service the locomotive. By trespassing on the rail corridor you only cause us problems so please be considerate and take your photographs safely from public land.
27th March 2007.
The Stratford trips went very well over the weekend of the 24th and 25th. The group chartering the train had good loadings and the Ab looked great hauling the Capital Connection set between Stratford and New Plymouth. Large crowds also turned out to watch the train, especially as it was parked on the waterfornt in downtown New Plymouth. Unlike the Tararua Tourer trip the previous weekend, these excursions were operated under blue skies and warm weather.
21st March 2007.
On Sunday the 18th March the Tararua Tourer, behind J1211, operated our "Round the Block" excursion out of Wellington. The weather in the morning was terrible with heavy rain. The train was delayed at Pahiatua while track inspectors checked a section of track beside a river as they were concerned the river may be undercutting the right of way. This proved not to be the case and the train proceeded. Despite late running due to circumstances beyond our control everyone seemed to enjoy the trip.
6th February 2007.
Stephen Buck has beee kind enough to send us some photo's taken on a family caravaning holiday around the South Island in 1958. Included is a photo of Ab663 shunting Cromwell yard. I have posted them in the Gallery Section. 
5th February 2007.
The Excursion page has been updated. There have been a number of developments relating to excusions so please take a look. 
Over the holiday period a major re-sleepering project took place on the line that runs past our depot in Parnell. ONTRACK used our yard Unloading sleepersfor storage of materials, such as, sleepers and ballast. 13 wagon loads of sleepers were delivered into the yard just before Christmas and we assisted the Ontrack staff by shunting them into position for unloading. This was an all day project as we had to shuffle loaded and empty wagons within the tight confines of our small yard. It certainly made for an interesting day and gave our Dsb a good workout. The photo  shows some of the unloading process.