The Blenheim Riverside Railway (BRRS or BRR) is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in Blenheim, New Zealand. It runs along the Taylor River, which winds its way through the middle of the town. It is operated by the all-volunteer Blenheim Riverside Railway Society.
Blenheim Riverside Railway Wikipedia
The railway was founded in 1985 by members of the Marlborough Historical Society, and shortly after rail was sourced and a workshop constructed. The line was progressively laid from 1987 and the railway officially opened in 1990. Four carriages were built in 1989/90, and the A & G Price locomotive was restored and put into service. The first station was very basic, however during 1995 Beaver Station (now Brayshaw Station) was constructed, with an extension of track from the workshop requiring a cutting and embankment with a steep gradient. In 2005 the track was extended to the current terminus at Riverside Park. Over the years the workshops have been enlarged, and concrete sleepers made by the volunteer members have been used to replace the wooden ones first used on the line. March 2015 saw the opening of a branch line extension to Omaka Airfield.
The railway follows the Taylor River from Brayshaw Park in the southwest of Blenheim to Beaver Station, next to where the River Queen boat docks. There are passing loops at Brayshaw Park, Chinaman's Creek Crossing, Fulton Station and Beaver Station. The route is 5.1 km long. There are six bridges and five road overbridges. At Beaver Station the line passes under the Main North Line Taylor River bridge. The line to Omaka branches off shortly after leaving Brayshaw Park, crosses the Taylor River on a 46m concrete bridge, ending near the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre and Omaka Classic Cars buildings. Light ~55lb per/yard (27kg/m) ex New Zealand Railways rail is used for majority of the line, and the track is buried up to rail head level as most is laid on reserve land.Brayshaw Park Station: 41°31′54″S 173°56′23″E
Beaver Station: 41°30′43″S 173°57′36″E
Omaka Station 41°32′13″S 173°55′42″E
There is an 900 m (just over half-mile) branch line to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre at Omaka Airfield, crossing the Taylor River by a bridge. Tracklaying began during 2013/2014. It was expected that the extension would be completed in time for the 2015 Omaka Airshow, and was opened on Saturday, 21 March 2015. The Society's efforts in constructing the branch line were recognised with an infrastructure award from KiwiRail at the FRONZ conference over Queen's Birthday weekend 2015.
The railway has a small collection of diesel locomotives. In 1986 the society acquired A & G Price Da 6 from Horrell & Sons of Gore, and it was put to use constructing the railway while being restored. It was overhauled in 2010, replacing the original Leyland powerplant with an Isuzu, and named "George" after a long serving member of the Society. Ruston & Hornsby 170204 was purchased from the Ashburton Vintage Car Club, regauged and overhauled, officially entering service in 1997 named "Murray". The year 2012 saw the arrival of two locomotives. A homebuilt bogie hydraulic, formerly used at a private railway in the Marlborough Sounds was donated by the constructors' family. A second Ruston, of 20DL type but with steam loco outline body, was purchased from Auckland and once worked at the short lived Footrot Flats theme park. November 2016 the Society purchased A&G Price Da 8, last remaining sister of "George" and two bogie carriages. These came from Totara Springs Christian Centre near Matamata and are expected to see service in 2017.
Four carriages were built in 1989/90 with wheels from the Lake Grassmere salt collection wagons. They are all the same design, 6m long, seating 24 each, except for car Four, which has an underneath storage compartment for tools. All carriages are air braked. A bogie railcar, known as RM 1, was built in the 1990s, and sees occasional use, mostly on the Omaka line. The two new ex Matamata cars also are 6m long and have similar "toast rack" seating. Maintenance is carried out with various material and tool trolleys, spray wagon and rail mounted grass mower.