Wednesday, 23 August 2017

MSL Part 7: Orari, Winchester, Temuka & Seadown


Orari is at 141 km. It was finally closed in 1981 being at a location with only a small population which meant it had no chance once the rail freight monopoly was removed. It is notable today for having the station building still on the site just adjacent to the main highway, now used for private purposes. The Southerner never stopped at Orari as it closed to passengers in 1970. 


Winchester is 146.81 km south of Lyttelton. It is the next location listed in the Working Timetable I use for reference (possibly late 1990s) south of Rangitata. Since the station closed to freight in 1986, it may have been retained for some years after that as a crossing loop.

This Canterbury Maps aerial photo from about 2012 gives rise to the impression that the loop and siding track may have been left in the ground and that there is still a small shelter shed or some other building at the location. 


Temuka is the next freight yard south from Ashburton at 152.71 km. The station has assumed a greater significance in recent years as a result of the Fonterra rail freight agreements. Freight to or from the Clandeboye Dairy Factory is transshipped by road via Temuka. At different times export product from the factory has been railed to either Lyttelton or Timaru ports, currently the latter.

A topo map of the area showing Clandeboye at upper right. The one lane bridge just south of the factory is one of two similar bridges near it that were fitted with traffic lights to manage vehicle flows accessing the site. The other bridge on Factory Road north-west of the plant (not visible on this map) was last year widened to two lanes.

This aerial photo from the 1980s gives some idea of the extent of the yard at that time. The Southerner never stopped at Temuka.

The more recent photo above seems to suggest that while the old west siding was still in place, it was not at that time used on a regular basis, to make more room for container storage. Instead, trains were loaded in the third road. Typically, a siding like the west one would have been created to allow a train to be loaded from both sides, but it seems that loading from one side only suffices for the present.

In 2009 Kiwirail applied for resource consent to expand the railway yard across the Denmark St crossing shown at the bottom of the above photo. Due to local opposition at the time the yard extension was abandoned but the closure of the crossing which was not a formed road, went ahead. A pedestrian crossing was set up 100 metres further south with automatic gates as it crosses three tracks and there were concerns pedestrians would cross over stationary trains stopped in the sidings which is very dangerous. 

In 2013 the gravel yard, so typical of country railway sidings around NZ, had to be resurfaced in concrete due to the dust nuisance. It is not clear if the track layout shown above was retained. There was a suggestion that Kiwirail would extend the yard further south around this time but this has yet to happen, if it is going to happen at all. In 2015 the level crossing at Richard Pearse Drive at the north end of Temuka yard was upgraded to the rubber panels that are now being seen commonly on busy level crossings around NZ.

Although long trains are loaded here, they are generally shunted by the mainline locomotives rather than having a shunt loco based at the site. Whilst I have no knowledge of the train running system it would likely be the case that the trains are run as a dedicated shunt service between Temuka and Timaru. However it is also possible that the same train stops at other locations like Washdyke if containers are loaded there. It is certainly not very likely that a Christchurch to Timaru freight service stops at Temuka on its way past :)


Seadown has been two different locations near each other. The first of these is the Ravensdown fertiliser factory on Dominion Road. The name of the road probably relates to Dominion Fertiliser, one of Ravensdown's predecessors. The site is approached by a small bridge (No.77) which being right next to a road crossing is a bit unusual for its size. It was served by a siding that joined the main line at 158.94 km. The map shows the part of the siding I can be reasonably certain about. What I am not certain about is whether there were other tracks, for example another track could have run off the initial one to access what appears to be the bulk loading area at the far end. Ultimately this question can only be solved by more research. By the time this aerial was taken the plant was probably being served with its raw materials from a lime quarry nearby and it was probably trucked directly from this quarry into the plant. I don't know when the plant was established and whether there is a possibility that it ever received limestone from a quarry by rail, but there is a reasonable possibility that all the limestone and other raw materials were trucked in from sources that were not near a railway line and the siding was only used for sending out the finished product from a couple of packing sheds that we can see at the top of the picture.

Obviously as mentioned above we are limited in our knowledge of the siding so like all maps this is never intended to be the final word on this location as it would not be possible to say there were not for example a loop track next to the main line or additional tracks within the premises. This map also doesn't show any of the plant buildings, that detail will be left for another time.

Google Earth view looking north showing the bridge.
From the same point but looking south, the factory is visible to the right.
1980s aerial with the siding clearly visible. An obvious question is whether the siding only went in as I have shown it on my map or whether it joined to another siding at the far end, as mentioned above.
The site as it appears today. The track route is not so obvious although it is possible there is track still in the ground, particularly within the premises.

The second location is at the real Seadown station about 1 km further south.

This closed in the mid 1950s to all traffic. As it is so close to Temuka and Washdyke and has only a small population there could not have been a lot of freight that would not have been able to be loaded at one of the other two locations. The old 1940s map shows there was a ballast pit at Seadown. This was probably in the area shown at the lower right of this 2012 aerial photo.