Friends of Opapa Station 2004 Newsletter

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The official newsletter of


ISSUE 2004/3 – December 2004

President/Treasurer:   Lee Hall
Vice President:   Bryan Rickard
Secretary:    Mike Betts

Warren & Val Blackburn    David Potts
Kelvin (Spud) Langley   Julia Rickard
Geoff Moss         [Phone numbers withheld – KB]

It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of the year again – just time for the final newsletter for the year to extend warm Christmas greetings to all of our members and supporters.

We also send a big get well to committee member Geoff Moss who has not been well this last month. The meetings are a little quiet without you Geoff.

Down at the Station

Underway on the inside

We are pleased to report that work on the inside of the station is progressing with work started on the toilet and north end lobby area. The trim around the end window and door has been completed and new hardboard wall lining has been fitted. Thanks to Bryan & Julia we now have a very smart porcelain hand basin fitted in the lobby outside the toilet. The basin was donated by Julia’s daughter and is in near new condition and perfect for our needs. It has been fitted in place and is awaiting fitting of the waste pipe.

However not so good news where on lifting the lino we discovered that the floor and floor framing was in a very bad way. Lee has since cut out all of the flooring from the lobby and has now replaced the floor joists and is about to install some new (recycled) tongue and groove flooring. We are confident that the rest of the floor is in much better condition and wont require such dramatic action. When the lobby is complete we will start on the main office interior.

Fire Sprinklers

With our fund raising completed we have engaged Electrotech Fire Division to proceed with the installation of the sprinkler system ASAP. They have confirmed our original quoted price but have noted that they are unlikely to be able to start until early in the new year because of their high work load. This is pretty much the case for all of the building sector at present so will just have to be patient…and vigilant.

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The Tablet Machine

We are now the proud owners of one table machine thanks to the generosity of Mike Edwards of Palmerston North who has donated it through the Rm133 Railcar Trust and who wanted to see it go to a preservation society.

Thanks very much Mike – a brilliant gesture.

Lee made a journey to Palmy one evening last month to pick it up with Mikes help it was loaded into the back of Lee’s long suffering Corolla for the trip back. They are very heavy little machines! The machine has no name plate but Mike suggested it came from somewhere in the South Island. It came complete with the wooden case housing the bell and as you can see in the photo’s is in excellent condition.

Photo caption – The new tablet machine & bell   – photos: Lee Hall

Long live the Hedges

We are pleased to report that the irrigation to the boundary fence hedges is now in proper working order after a big effort by Julia, Carol & Len last working bee to properly secure the pipe and install sprinkler heads. This is (a) big relief to know that our new plantings will have a chance of summer – if it ever does arrive. The established hedge plants have really taken off this spring with some now nearly 2 metres high.

The committee has decided to look a purchasing another smaller lawn mower for our members who find the big mower difficult and also to better get at the smaller areas. Ideally we would like to get a cheap (free) second hand mower and fit a new engine to it. So if you know anybody who has an old mower sitting idle somewhere with a reasonable condition body we would love to hear from you.

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The grounds are looking very tidy at the moment with the exception of the lawn beside the entrance which is still devoid of grass and will have to be sown in the coming autumn.

Thanks are due to Bryan for keeping the outside walls of the station looking good. This is an ongoing chore as the building seems to be a bird magnet.

Now a couple of scenes from the past.

The railway children & DA1426 at Opapa c1961 –: photos Dick Cowley

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A few comments about Site Safety

It’s timely to remind our members of the need to exercise real caution when working near the railway line at Opapa and to always be on the alert for trains. They can and do run at any time!

Trains generally run through Opapa at 70 km/hr and visibility for trains approaching from the north is limited to about 100 – 150 metres from the platform i.e. only 5 -7 seconds warning if you happen to be looking in that direction.

It is also important that any visitors to the station are made aware of the danger and advised to keep well clear of the track at all times. In particular young children must be under adult supervision at all times when on the site.

Also please note that vehicles should not be parked closer to the railway line than the rear edge of the station platform.

Local Rail News

Traffic on the Gisborne line is slowly increasing with some good size trains. Last week there was at least one train every day Monday through Friday which is more than is normally scheduled. Current traffic is thought to be around 70,000 Tonnes per year compared with the lines peak tonnage of around 150,000 which is reported to have occurred in 1994.

Toll NZ has won back the traffic to/from the Takapau freezing works although a certain amount of the work will be handled by Toll’s road operation. Shunting crews have recently been recertified to work the Takapau yard.

Traffic south of Napier seems fairly constant with most trains comprising 10 to 20 bogie wagons behind a single Dx although a north bound freight with 39 total crawled past (due to the heats) tonight. I have noted in recent weeks a southbound fertiliser train running on Sundays in the early afternoon.

The ‘Heats’ are back on with numerous heat related speed restrictions now posted between Napier and Woodville. I imagine it will be some time before they get round to destressing the track on our line.

The powers that be have been pretty lax with the weed spraying program this year and part of the track were beginning to resemble pasture. Although the track in our area has been sprayed it is now covered in dead vegetation which looks terrible and can’t be doing any good for the track bed. The sooner the new operating company, which I believe is to be called ‘Ontrack’, gets into gear the better. The track evaluation car was seen leaving Napier southbound last week giving a good impression of a bucking bronco.

The Waitoa branch which serves the dairy factory on the old Thames line has just been reopened to traffic and a new service started this month hauling imported coal from the Port of Tauranga to the Huntly power station.

Tenders have just been called for about 16 new or rebuilt carriages for the Wairarapa – Wellington passenger services and Toll NZ are investigating the possibility of building new locomotives in New Zealand.

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Regardless of where they are built, new locomotives are definitely required as the present aged fleet struggles to cope with the ever increasing tonnage.

This is some of the recent good news which has seen this year as one of the most positive for railways in a very long time. Long may it continue!

Upcoming Rail events

Two quality rail trips happening in the new year are the round the block trip from Palmerston North to Stratford, Taumuranui [Taumarunui] and home. Should be an excellent trip. And not to forget of course that Steam Incorporated will be in Hawkes Bay for the Art Deco weekend running the usual array of trips including the very popular Pea, Pie & Pud from Napier to Ormondville return. This will be a welcome return after last years rail trip was cancelled due to flooding.

Well that’s it for the year. I wish all our members and supporters a very merry Christmas, a happy and safe New Year and look forward to your continued support in 2005.

The Friends of Opapa Railway station Inc gratefully acknowledge the support of the following businesses:


303 Alexander Street or Warren Street
Ph 878 7915

Swansea Road, Flaxmere
Ph 879 7114

Hose Reels, Extinguishers
All sales and servicing
Contact Barry or Joanne
Ph 879 6166
P.O. Box 15602 Flaxmere

Heretaunga Street West Hastings
Ph 878 3100

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Business / Organisation

Friends of Opapa Railway Station (FOORS)

Format of the original

Paper document

Date published

December 2004

Creator / Author

  • Dick Cowley


  • Mike Betts
  • Val Blackburn
  • Warren Blackburn
  • Mike Edwards
  • Lee Hall
  • Kelvin (Spud) Langley
  • Geoff Moss
  • David Potts
  • Bryan Rickard
  • Julia Rickard

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