Blenheim Riverside Railway

The Blenheim Riverside Railway (BRRS or BRR for short) is a narrow gauge (24 inch) heritage railway located in Blenheim, New Zealand and runs down the Taylor River which winds its way through the middle of the town. It is operated by the all-volunteer Blenheim Riverside Railway Society.

History

The Railway was founded in 1985 by the Marlborough Historical Society, and two years later track laying commenced. Four carriages were built in 1989 with parts from the Lake Grassmere Salt Works salt collection railway, and the A & G Price locomotive was restored from a rundown condition during this time. In 1990 the locomotive "Murray" was restored to operational condition. After the years the workshops have been enlarged, and concrete sleepers that are made by the volunteers have been used to replace wooden ones used in construction of the line.

Route

The rail route follows the Taylor River through Blenheim from Brayshaw Park in the south of Blenheim to Beaver Station beside where the River Queen docks just slightly downstream of the outdoor ampitheatre. There are crossing loops at Chinaman's Creek Crossing, and Fulton Station, both being former terminus's of the line. The total route is roughly 5.5 km long, being the longest two-foot gauge line in New Zealand, after an extension finished in late 2005. There are 5 bridges on the line but no tunnels, although the track passes underneath many road bridges. At Beaver Station the line passes under the Main North Line Taylor River bridge.

Coordinates of terminal stations

*Brayshaw Park station: coord|-41.531551|173.939602|format=dms
*Beaver station: coord|-41.511855|173.958743|format=dms

Track

The track is made of mainly 55-pound rail, with scratch built concrete sleepers made in wooden moulds. Currently sections of 330m track upgrades are in progress, replacing old wooden sleepers and also laying down new ballast. The whole track itself is buried in the soil, with only the railheads visible,as the route is on a floodway. This is also for looks as the area is used by the public as a park.

Omaka Branch Extension

There is hopefully a 800m extension going ahead, crossing the Taylor River by means of culvert to next to the Aviation Heritage Centre at Omaka Airfield. The first point for this is in and the next two (to make a turning triangle) are not far off.

Locomotives

The railway has two locomotives, an NZ-built A & G Price 6.5 ton, 2-axle 4WD diesel-mechanical from the Ohai coal mine (1 of 3 2ft gauge locos built), powered by a six-cylinder Leyland Comet engine with transmission through a 3-speed gearbox and direction gearbox with chain drive to both axles (shortly a Isuzu diesel with automatic transmission will be put in). The other loco is a Ruston & Hornsby5.5 ton, diesel-mechanical named "Murray" (serial no. 170204) powered by a 3-cylinder Lister engine, which worked at the Milton Lime works. Being restored is a 0-4-2 steam locomotive, 'Donald' from the Puponga Coal Mine in Puponga, near Collingwood. Also a 2.0L Toyota diesel (with automatic transmission powering the inner most axles of the bogies) railcar made by the Society is sometimes used. There is an interest in purchasing another loco, especially an ongoing search for the 3rd A & G Price high-cabbed loco believed to be buried in the Ohai mine itself.

Rolling Stock

The main passenger carriages (which there are four of) seat 24 people in 4-person bench seat configuration. They are all built to the same design except for carriage No.4, which is the same except it has an underslung compartment for jacks etc. for assistance in a derailment or the like. All passenger bearing rolling stock are fully air braked. In the track work-train there are the following wagons: a ballast wagon, two flat deck wagons , a tool wagon and a recently built braked staff car, rebuilt and re-gauged from a 3ft.6in jigger. There are the following jiggers in the fleet: a six man jigger, two man and a four man jigger, along with a hand trolley. Also a track sprayer wagon and a grass mower on wheels, not to mention other storage wagons.

Equipment/Facilities

The railway uses a tractor and digger for any excavation work, with all track work being done by hand. The workshop has a pit, and small turntable for wagons/jiggers etc.

External Links

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo9y7c_-wL0 Youtube Video of the railway]

[http://www.trainweb.org/brrs BRRS Main Website]

[http://www.narrow-gauge.co.uk/articles/blenheim_riverside_railway An overview of the railway]

[http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/riverside_railway/ Discussion Yahoo group]

[http://www.maciulaitis.com/nzrolling/narrow.html Locomotive info- ] 1/2 way down page

[http://www.maciulaitis.com/nzrolling/narrowwags.html List of wagons, carriages etc.] -3/4 down page


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