NZ ‘Southern Diesel Tour’ pays visit to South Island

AN EXTENSIVE tour covering many lines on the South Island of New Zealand was operated in October.

A good proportion of the lines have no regular passenger services.

The ‘Southern Diesel Tour’ was hauled by preserved English Electric-built locos owned by the Diesel Traction Group: Di 1102 (Co-Co built in 1966 by English Electric, Rocklea Works in Australia) and Dg 772 (A1A A1A built in 1955 at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows).

Dunedin Railways DJ Class locos, led by DJ 1209, pilot the tour locos at Waitati on October 20. The pilots worked as far as Sawyer’s Bay as fire suppression equipment (not fitted to the main tour locos) is mandatory in the Mihiwaka tunnel en route. PAUL GRIFFIN

The tour was operated by New Zealand main line charter operator Steam Incorporated and ran from Christchurch to Invercargill with visits to some other lines on the way.

The tour was also designed to celebrate 50 years of the former New Zealand Railways DJ diesel locos and these, provided by heritage operator Dunedin Railways (which own seven of the nine operational examples left), were used as pilots on the main line section, plus later in the itinerary on the Taieri Gorge railway.

The DJ Class locos were built in Japan (DJ means Diesel Japan) by Mitsubishi in 1968/69 to replace steam across the South Island of New Zealand.

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