- Mainline Steam
Mainline Steam is a New Zealand organisation devoted to the restoration and operation of historic New Zealand Railways mainline steam locomotives. Regular day excursions and multi-day tours are operated over rail lines throughout New Zealand. These excursions provide travellers with the unique opportunity to relive the days when steam was king while experiencing the magnificent New Zealand countryside. Excursions are operated by the Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch branches.
About the organisation
Mainline Steam began in 1988 based around the collection of steam locomotives that were privately owned by Mr Ian Welch, the first of which had begun operating on the main line. Depots sprang up in Christchurch and Auckland, and later Wellington. The Auckland depot, based in the old Parnell diesel depot became the organisation’s primary restoration base and most of Mainline Steam's currently active locomotives were restored there. The Wellington depot, located at Plimmerton, is a purpose-built building which replaced the formerly leased Upper Hutt goods shed and has become an important restoration base also. The depot in Christchurch is a former industrial building that used to be located at Studholme, relocated to land on the premises of CWF Hamilton.
Mainline Steam is notable for having imported a number of African steam locomotives from South Africa and Zimbabwe (including a GMAM Garratt), with some more South African and Zimbabwean steam locomotives still overseas. It has also imported former British Rail Mark 2 carriages for use on its steam-hauled excursions, and is in the process of overhauling them for NZ use – it currently relies on spare carriage stock being available from Tranz Scenic. The organisation regularly operates excursions out of Auckland and Christchurch, the latter operating excursions primarily along the highly scenic Midland Line. Mainline Steam also has a number of diesel and electric locomotives in its care.
List of NZ locomotives
Key: In Service In Service, Main Line Certified Under Overhaul/Restoration Stored Static Display Scrapped Number Builder Builder's Number Year Built Arrived at Mainline Steam Notes BA 552 NZR Addington Workshops 128 1912 1995 Owned by Les Hostick. Previously on static display at Te Awamutu Railway Museum, leased to Mainline Steam. Restored to main line standard, certification lapsed. At Auckland Depot. Needs 10 year boiler survey and associated work to return to Mainline operation. BB 144 A & G Price, Thames 85 1917 1995 Owned by Les Hostick. Previously on static display at Te Awamutu Railway Museum, leased to Mainline Steam. Under restoration, not intended for main line use. At Auckland Depot. AB 663 NZR Addington Workshops 188 1917 1988 Initially intended as a spare for Kingston Flyer, stored at Dunedin and stripped of numerous parts. Purchased by Ian Welch 1984, restored to main line standard & converted to oil firing at Silverstream Railway. In use since 1997, named Sharon Lee. At Wellington Depot. K 911 NZR Hutt Workshops 288 1934 1997 Used as a boiler supply prior to preservation. Purchased by Ian Welch 1992, restoration begun then sidelined in favour of overhaul of KA 942. Restoration continues in limited capacity. At Wellington Depot. KB 968 NZR Hillside Workshops 351 1939 1992 Preserved by Ferrymead Trust through efforst of Cyril Evans. Static display at Ferrymead until 1992, leased to Mainline Steam and moved to Christchurch depot. Restoration begun 2006 towards main line use. At Christchurch Depot. KA 942 NZR Hutt Workshops 325 1940 1988 Intended for use as boiler supply, but not used. Purchased by Ian Welch 1974, moved to Steam Incorporated. Eventually moved to Glenbrook Vintage Railway for restoration to main line standard, in use from 1992. Fitted with original style shrouding, names Nigel Bruce. At Wellington Depot. J 1211 North British Locomotive co. 24534 1939 1988 Purchased by syndicate from NZR 1971 and moved to Steam Incorporated. Purchased outright by Ian Welch 1978, moved to Glenbrook Vintage Railway for restoration and leased to Bay of Islands Vintage Railway 1985-86. Restored to main line standard and fitted with original style streamlining, in use from 1988. Converted to oil firing 1996, named Gloria. At Parnell Depot. JB 1236 North British Locomotive co. 24559 1939 1988 Purchased by Railway Enthusiasts Society 1971, onsold privately and moved to MoTaT. On static display until 1988 when purchased by Ian Welch, moved to Parnell. Restored to main line standard and converted to oil firing, in use from 2001. Named Joanne. At Christchurch Depot. JA 1240 NZR Hillside Workshops 363 1946 1988 Purchased by Pete Coleman from NZR 1971 and moved to his Blenheim property. Purchased by Ian Welch 1988, moved to Parnell for restoration 1990. Restoration begun 2007 to main line standard. At Auckland Depot. Restoration progress photos. JA 1267 NZR Hillside Workshops 381 1950 2008 Purchased by Les Hostick & syndicate 1971. On static display at Te Awamutu Railway Museum. Sold to Ian Welch 2008, moved to Parnell for eventual restoration. To be kept as coal burner. At Auckland Depot. JA 1275 North British Locomotive Co. 27104 1951 1995 Purchased by Les Hostick 1967. On static display at Te Awamutu Railway Museum. Leased to Mainline Steam, moved to Parnell 1995 for restoration to main line use. In use from 2004, at Auckland Depot. EW 1805 English Electric Co. 1735/E7491 1952 2005 Retained as part of Tranz Rail Heritage collection until 2005, purchased by Ian Welch and moved to Plimmerton depot. Overhauled to static display condition and undergoing overhaul to main line standard. At Wellington Depot. DSB 313 Drewry/Vulcan 2516/D246 1955 1988 Used as yard shunter at Parnell Depot, in service. At Auckland Depot. DSA 258 Hunslet 4536 1955 1999 To Tomoana Freezing Works after NZR. Sold to 2nd Chance Train Trust Rotorua 1997, then to Mainline Steam. Overhauled and leased to Ravensdown Awatoto, suffered damage. Scrapped c2004. DSA 261 Hunslet 4698 1957 2002 Formerly in use as yard shunter at Christchurch Depot. Stored partially dismantled awaiting overhaul. At Christchurch depot. TR534 Bagnall 3107 1957 2003 Used as yard shunter at Plimmerton Depot, in service. At Wellington Depot. Price 213 A & G Price, Thames 213 1964 1988 Built for Milburn Cement, Burnside. Sold to Mainline Steam 1988, moved to Christchurch depot and used as yard shunter. Under overhaul 2006, painted in “Fruit Salad” colours. In use at Christchurch Depot. DJ3044 Mitsubishi 1511 1967 1990 Purchased as motorless and alternatorless hulk. Moved to Parnell depot, stored awaiting decision on future. At Auckland Depot. Scrapped in May 2011 DJ3292 Mitsubishi 1535 1967 1990 Purchased as motorless and alternatorless hulk. Moved to Upper Hutt depot, later to Plimmerton depot. Under restoration to main line use. DJ3303 Mitsubishi 1536 1967 1990 Sold by NZR to Ohai Railway Board, and later bought back. Purchased as motorless and alternatorless hulk by Richard Head and Graeme Moffatt. Moved to Upper Hutt depot, purchased outright by Richard Head and moved to Plimmerton depot. Under restoration to main line use. DJ3580 Mitsubishi ? 1968 1990 Purchased as motorless and alternatorless hulk. Moved to Parnell depot, later scrapped for parts. DSC2759 NZR Hillside Workshops 449 1967 2002 Occasional yard shunter at Plimmerton Depot, in service. At Wellington Depot. Niigata Niigata NK2071 1983 1994 Owned by Mainline Steam. Originally bought by Tasman Forestry. At Auckland Depot.
- Hudswell Clarke 1542 of 1924 was purchased by Mainline Steam in 1994, and later onsold to the Rotorua Ngongotaha Railway Trust.
List of overseas locomotives
Key: In Service In Service, Main Line Certified Under Overhaul/Restoration Stored Static Display Scrapped Number Builder Builder's Number Year Built Arrived at Mainline Steam Notes SAR 19D 2695 A. Borsig 14746 1938 2007 Purchased from SAR by Unicem Zimbabwe & fitted with Class 24 tender, their No.1. Purchased by Ian Welch, moved to Bulawayo Railway Museum and dismantled for shipping to NZ. Arrived Napier 2007, stored at Plimmerton Depot awaiting future restoration. At Wellington Depot. SAR 15F 2976 Beyer Peacock. 7092 1944 Purchased by Ian Welch, from United Portland Cement. Currently stored at Bloemfontein, South Africa. SAR 19D 3332 North British Locomotive Co. 26052 1948 Purchased by Ian Welch. Currently stored at Bloemfontein, South Africa. SAR 24 3628 North British Locomotive Co. 26332 1949 1996 Purchased by Ian Welch 1996 and shipped to Auckland 1997. Converted to oil firing and restored, shipped to Cairns, Australia 2004 and used on Cairns-Kuranda Steam Train. In storage Cairns, 2006. SAR 25NC 3432 Henschel & Sohn, Germany. 28751 1953 1996 Purchased by Ian Welch 1996 and shipped to Auckland 1997. In storage awaiting decision on future (currently too heavy for NZ track). At Auckland Depot. ZNR 14A 509 Beyer Peacock 7582 1953 2007 Purchased from ZNR by Unicem Zimbabwe, their No.2. Purchased by Ian Welch, moved to Bulawayo Railway Museum and dismantled for shipping to NZ. Arrived Napier 2007, stored at Plimmerton Depot awaiting future restoration. At Wellington Depot. SAR 25NC 3508 North British Locomotive Co. 27368 1954 1996 Purchased by Ian Welch 1996 and shipped to Auckland 1997. In storage awaiting decision on future (currently too heavy for NZ track). At Auckland Depot. SAR GMAM 4148 Henschel & Sohn, Germany. 29607 1954 Purchased by Ian Welch. Currently stored at Reefsteamers, Germiston, South Africa. SAR GMAM 4083 Beyer Peacock 7681 1956 1996 Purchased by Ian Welch 1996 and shipped to Auckland 1997. In storage awaiting restoration. At Auckland Depot. Often labelled as GMAM 4088. SAR GMAM 4135 North British Locomotive Co. 27787 1958 Purchased by Ian Welch. Currently stored at Reefsteamers, Germiston, South Africa.
Not all locomotives owned by Mainline Steam that are stored overseas are expected to be shipped to New Zealand.
Mainline Steam has a large collection of rolling stock, mostly consisting of tank wagons used for oil and water storage, some of which are main line certified. In addition Mainline Steam has twice purchased British Railway Mark 2 rolling stock and shipped it to New Zealand – first in 1997 (and on-sold to Tranz Rail shortly thereafter, after TranzRail informed Mainline Steam that they would not allowed the Mark two carriages to operate on the national network, no doubt to protect their own charter services), and in 2007/2008. Currently some of these latter carriages are under restoration for NZ conditions and to form the basis of Mainline Steam’s carriage fleet. Of note Mainline Steam owns carriage AA 1013, the last remaining carriage from the Parliamentary Special of 1908. This carriage was restored in time for use on the Centenary anniversary train. Mainline has recently acquired surplus 56' carriages A56263, A56742, AO117, AO209 and ASO14.
Mainline Steam operate excursions periodically, with a number of excursions operating out of Mainline Steam’s Christchurch depot. These typically involve day excursions to Arthurs Pass on the Midland Line, with a once-a-year 2 day trip along this line to Greymouth and return. The Auckland depot periodically runs excursions to National Park and Tauranga, with Wellington not having operated an excursion out of their base for over 2 years due to carriage availability. Mainline Steam also operates a 2-week New Zealand wide tour once a year, touring the country behind a large selection of Mainline Steam’s main line certified locomotives.
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