On 6 April 2021, the Hamilton to Papakura commuter train, Te Huia, entered service for the first time. The service marks a return of commuter trains to the route after an absense of almost 20 years. DFB 7077 hauled the inaugural service from Frankton station in Hamilton to Papakura, followed by DFB 7295 on the second service. We follow the train in both directions, and go along for a ride on the refurbished carriages
Just before the rain appears, DL 9538 leads train MP2S out of Pukekohe as ADL 810 arrives. Following soon after is Wairarapa escapee DFB 7010 with train 200 as the rain comes down, then heading south is DL 9106 with train MP9. Although the Northern Explorer is running, train 200 is terminating at Otahuhu as the Eastern Line is using The Strand while Britomart is closed. Train 201 however, continues departing from The Strand. With maintenance day in the Waikato now on Sundays, train MP2S is scheduled to depart at the same time as the rest of the week, but now sits in Hamilton for around 10 hours before heading for Auckland, hence the train running just ahead of the Northern Explorer
A rare sight in Auckland, DXC 5293 returns to Wellington dead on train 221 behind DL 9360 and DL 9187, seen here passing through Buckland. DXC 5293 had earlier led train 220 into Auckland, presumably after a traction motor change in Wellington. Heading the other way, DL 9573 leads train MP8 up the hill
The third locomotive to be sent north for export to Australia, DC 4692, headed north on train 220 behind DL 9469 and DL 9210, on its last run on New Zealand rails. Train 220 as well as train MP5 heading the other way are seen here through Paerata, where regional speed restrictions are still in force
After an absence of over six months, the Northern Explorer returned to the rails the day after Auckland's return to Alert Level 1, on 8 October 2020. The train is seen here, with DFB 7173 in change, passing through Takaanini, and northbound as an empty service through Papakura the previous day. The Northern Explorer had been planned to return earlier, however Auckland's second lockdown delayed the relaunch
The first Te Huia set went on its first training run in October 2020, with DFB 7295 making a run from Hamilton to Otahuhu and return. The return trip is seen here passing through Buckland, with DFB 7295 on the usual end of the consist. As a bonus, archive footage of the driving car, SD 5893 (now SRV 5893) is included, with DC 4375 propelling the set out of Papakura towards Britomart
Trains through Paerata on the first weekend of Auckland's second round of Alert Level 3. This is also the last weekend before all trains through Auckland are limited to 40km/h because of poor track condition and urgent rail replacements. Here, we see ADLs 802 and 808 on full-speed shuttle services, and DL 9573 on train MP6, one of the few trains that runs during all alert levels
As part of the North Auckland Line upgrade project, covering Swanson to Whangarei, a number of work trains have been operating over weekends from Westfield to a number of locations. Here, we see one such train, which spent the weekend offloading sleepers before returning to Westfield empty. DFB 7077 and DFB 7049 provided the power for this weekend's train, with only DFB 7077 in power on the trip home. As a bonus, DL 9072 and DCP 4790 are seen descending into Ellerslie with the port shunt, running via Newmarket instead of the usual route via Panmure due to track work on the North Island Main Trunk
For the first time since restoration, DBR 1254 was let out onto the mainline on a trip from Hamilton to Waharoa and return, during Auckland Anniversary weekend. Seen here is the empty service from Glenbrook to Hamilton, and the train heading out to Waharoa and back. DFB 7160 went along for the ride acting as insurance
After 13 months of hard work by GVR volunteers, DBR 1254 was unveiled to RES members and GVR volunteers on 29 September 2019. The locomotive was completely stripped down and overhauled, eventually turning out in a fresh Fruit Salad livery. DBR 1254 is intended for mainline running and is at present not far off receiving certification as a heritage vehicle
For the first time in several years, a train ran from Auckland to the Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre. This train was organised by the Railway Enthusiasts Society and comprised of DFB 7213 hauling the Glenbrook Vintage Railway mainline fleet. The train ran to Te Awamutu to drop off Fieldays passengers, then to Te Kuiti with the remaining passengers to turn the locomotive
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