Classic steam train in Southern Alps
Sun, 09 Sep 2012 6:31p.m.
By Hamish Clark
Hundreds of train enthusiasts got a full head of steam when KA-942 made an excursion through the Southern Alps.
For train driver Mark Scotson it was a dream come true, being back behind the controls of the same locomotive he started on 50 years ago as a teenager.
The KA-942 is a show stopper. The steam train is popular wherever she goes.
“She is a pretty big machine, 144 tonnes,” says Mr Scotson. “Oddly enough I worked this as a young fellow when I was 17/18 around the North Island. “I never thought I would be driving it again as a driver after all these years.”
The journey from Christchurch to Greymouth is a sell-out with train spotters – the tunnels, the viaducts and the thick black smoke.
“I grew up watching steam trains run past my bedroom window and always had an interest in them,” says excursion manager Ray O’Brien. “I am a collector of Hornby clockwork railways. It’s just a passion.”
KA-942 has clocked up more than 1 million miles, mostly in the North Island. Based out of Wellington, it burns waste oil and draws enthusiasts from all over the country.
“It’s really exciting to see the loco,” says Auckland enthusiast Jenny King. “My dad used to drive that engine so it is quite a nostalgic thing for us. So fantastic.”
When the black beauty makes it to the coast, the platform is awash with cameras and steam to get the perfect shot.
“[I’m using] a periscope,” says Wellington enthusiast Dave Johnston. “It actually allows you to see the curves in the track before you actually do filming. You can actually film through it but I don't. It’s very simple – a piece of down-pipe, Warehouse mirrors, Blu-Tac. Put some tape on the end. I should patent it, but they are easy to make.”
With a wave from the cab, Mark Scotson steers the loco home, past the admirers and train-buffs that line the tracks.
“I really like the steam,” says Mr Scotson. “I guess I started with steam and hopefully finish with it. Hopefully these guys are around. I probably will finish on steam.”
He is the last of a generation keeping the steam spirit alive.
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11/09/2012 2:35:51 p.m.
trevor taylor wrote:
Hi Peter dont know how this e/mail got onto my machine, but do not worry over it. I am an x railway man , worked onthe track gangs when i finished on the rail I was in the shunting yards at Stratford Worked on the Utiku Mangaweka length dont remember the engine no. but a KA finished up in the swamp on the Weka side of theOhinigti tunnel thank you for the enjoyment Igot from seeing the old girl going so well Trevor
10/09/2012 3:55:16 p.m.
Kelvyn take a look at the Mainline Steam website. They are the ones that ran the train. www.mainlinesteam.co.nz
9/09/2012 11:15:57 p.m.
Where can I get an itinerary/booking details for future steam train journeys. I would have loved to do the Christchurch to Greymouth trip but you know people outside that region need some time to arrange travel etc.
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