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Tranz Alpine

One of the "must do" train rides in New Zealand is the famous Tranz Alpine running across the south island between Christchurch and Greymouth. Mind you, the weather can change after you depart sunny Christchurch and climb to Arthur's Pass. Plus, Greymouth on the west coast has the rainfall record, and it did indeed bucket down on the day I took the ride to Greymouth. There are observation cars where you can stand outside on the verandah and admire the alpine scenery. But, train staff usher you back inside for the Otira tunnel. This steep long tunnel requires rear train bankers to shove the train uphill to Arthur's Pass. It takes about nine minutes to ride through the tunnel so exhaust fumes would not be fun out on the observation decks. The train stops at Arthur's pass to allow the rear train bankers to detach. This allowed me to scramble up front to shoot at the train. Clad in a borrowed Kiwi driver mate's sweater (he said to me that I would freeze down there), the Tranz Alpine driver yelled to me spying the company logo. Naturally being driver only operation, the driver was eager to have some company upfront. So, I got to ride the cab the remainder of the journey back to Christchurch.

Aussie Alco.
Nice photo. I did this trip about a dozen years ago and stayed at the YHA hostel in Arthur's Pass for the night. Managed to see a few coalies heading across the Pass too. Mind you, I was the only passenger getting of at the Pass that day, and with no-one around it was a somewhat eerie feeling being dropped off in the "middle of nowhere"! And cold! Although I was there in November I still got snowed on and of course, having moved to Brisbane from Hobart a couple of years before I'd acclimatised to the hot wether so I really FROZE!

By the way, back then the trains were pulled through the tunnel by those ancient electics (class EO???) rather than being pushed.

All in all, this is a fabulous trip and as you say it should find its way onto people's "must do" lists!

Thanks for the reminder of my own experiences Aussie Alco.
 
Nice shot. Unusual seeing a Dft (EMD GT22LC) on the lead. Bankers do not push through the tunnel, they couple on the front (normally not req'd for pax trains).

Current coal train ops are 30 wagons grossing 2160 tonnes with 2 train loco's plus 3 bankers up the 1in33. All loco's are upgraded GE U26C's (most with brightstar, some of 3000hp, some of 3300hp). Latest trial has been 45 wagon trains (3240 tonnes trailing) with 3 train loco's plus 4 bankers on the head.
 

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