Canterbury Railway Society Inc
The Ferrymead Railway
The Ferrymead Railway is the major project of the Canterbury Railway Society. It is based upon the historical site of New Zealands first public railway. Opened in 1863, the original line was of 1600 mm (53) gauge, operated using locomotives imported from the Australian state of Victoria. Trains ran from the Ferrymead shipping wharf, the remains of which can still be seen east of the Ferrymead station, to Christchurch, linking with other broad gauge lines north to Amberley and south to Rakaia.
The Ferrymead line fell into disuse following the opening of the Lyttelton tunnel in 1867 and was finally closed in 1877 and lifted. After the abolition of the Canterbury Provincial Council, which had constructed the broad gauge lines, the remaining tracks were converted to the NZ standard gauge of 1067 mm (36).
In 1964, following commemoration of the railways centenary, several organisations began to take an interest in developing the Ferrymead site as a working transport museum, culminating in the formation of Ferrymead Heritage Park. Much equipment and materials were obtained from New Zealand Railways (now Tranz Rail), including the original track, the water vat, signal box and crossing keepers hut, and most of the locomotives and rolling stock.
The Railway now has 0.8 km (1/2 mile) of track running between the two parts of the Park site. A further 0.4 km (1/4 mile) is electrified at 1500 volts DC for the electric locomotives and also connects to the NZR main line to Christchurch. Operational and repair facilities include a two-road steam engine shed, a two-road workshop with inspection pit, offices and lunchroom, a six-road carriage shed, a two-road electric locomotive depot, a two-road locomotive shelter and water vat. Stations are located at Moorhouse Village and Ferrymead with the signalbox controlling train movements in Moorhouse yard.
Locomotives, railcars, carriages and rolling stock owned by the Canterbury Railway Society include ten steam engines, two diesel railcars, three diesel locomotives, four electric locomotives, an electric multiple unit and a number of passenger carriages and wagons. In addition there are a number of locomotives and vehicles at Ferrymead that are owned by other organisations. For more information about the Ferrymead Railway, click the buttons on this page, or in the left hand frame.
The Canterbury Railway Society relies almost entirely upon voluntary assistance to run trains upon the Ferrymead Railway, restore and maintain its locomotives, rolling stock, buildings, track and other assets, and to administer the functions of the Society. We are seeking skilled tradespersons, administrators and persons with prior railway experience, as well as general skills. If you are able to assist us, please contact the Canterbury Railway Society.
Currently the Railway requires from three to seven staff to operate trains on each running day. The operating staff positions include drivers, firepersons, cleaners for steam locomotives, guards, assistant guards, signalpersons and stationmasters. New steam locomotive regulations are expected to cut the number of hours required for certification of steam engine drivers to 20% of the previous requirement which makes this a more attractive qualification for budding throttle tyros. Other driving opportunities include the Vulcan Railcars and the Diesel Traction Group's locomotives.
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