The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Of Railcars and Goods with Car attached, December 1972

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.

It presents an interesting comparison: a fast, modern railcar speeding through the countryside compared to a goods with car attached ambling through the rural backblocks. Yet this was the situation that could be found in parts of New Zealand in 1972 when I photographed a railcar in Taranaki then followed that with a journey from Stratford to Taumarunui by railcar before returning in the 'comfort' of an elderly wooden carriage tacked on the back of a goods train.

Class leader Rm100 pulls into the New Plymouth station to load passengers. It's a Sunday afternoon and 100 will soon be leaving with train 673 the Sunday afternoon service to Wellington.

With most passengers already aboard only a few folk remain on the platform prior to the train's departure. 

Underway and crossing the Waiwakaiho River on the outskirts of New Plymouth.....

......and then arriving at Inglewood to pick up more passengers.

One last shot near Tariki: the bridge was just the right size to photograph a railcar on. Reckon I took the shot just a tad early though.

Now this photo was taken early 1972 and shows train 555, goods with car attached from Stratford to Taumarunui, just before joining the Main Trunk at Okahukura. The train seems to fit nicely in the available space.

I liked the thought of travelling on a similar sized train to the last photo so resolved to head back in the near future and although it took me until December I did eventually make it. Of course riding the rails you don't get the photo opportunities you do when following by car but I've always enjoyed my train rides. Chosen train was from Taumarunui to Stratford on Monday 11 December but to catch it I first had to get to Taumarunui so I caught the railcar that left New Plymouth some time after midnight....I can't recall just when but it was not a sociable hour. So I never went to bed that night, snoozed a bit on the railcar but then had quite a deep sleep as the goods train meandered thru rural New Zealand. End result being minimal photos! This first one shows train 542 still on the Main Trunk at Okahukura: the junction station for Stratford. It's a much larger train than I'd hoped for so it was going to be much harder to get up the front end for photos anyway.

So hard in fact the only front end shot I got was at Ohura during the first and only shunt of the day. I grabbed a photo of the van being worked and then headed for one of train engine Da1509 shunting the yard. I can't recall what the other Da was doing in the looks like there is a small train behind it so maybe a works train. After that I slept my way to Stratford which was the major part of the trip! 

Now this was all in 1972, which was a long time ago, and change soon came to the passenger services on these two lines. The goods with car attached ran for the last time in 1975 whilst the railcar service to Wellington ceased running in 1977. The railcar to Taumarunui lingered on until 1978 when it was replaced by a passenger train, of sorts, for a further five years.  

Rob Dickinson