Blenheim Riverside Railway  

New Zealand

Award Winning Railway   


News and Events

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Omaka Branch opened.

Posted by Darrin Wilkinson on March 22, 2015 at 10:15 PM

On the 21st of March we officially opened our Omaka Branch line with an official ceromony with the Mayor of Marlborough - Mr Sowman and various orgainisations who contributed to the line including the Lions, various sponsor and members of the Railway.

We were visited by other Railway groups from the South Island including Nelson Railway and Weka Pass. 

Below is a pictorial record of the opening including our unique rolloing stock.

It was a very proud day for our members who worked so hard to make this project a reality. The team was lead by various team leaders under the guidance of Mr John Orchard. 

Photo above

 Mr John Orchard - President of BRSR giving a speech during the opening ceromony.

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The team placing the "4" Goldern Spikes for the official opening 

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People waiting for the first official train to cross the Omaka River during the opening Ceromony.

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Some of out Locomotives, Railcar and carriages waiting for the official guests to arrive at Omaka Station. 

Photos Below - Some of the "Good Ol Boys" of the Society. A very proud day indeed. 

Official opening date

Posted by Darrin Wilkinson on February 18, 2015 at 1:55 AM

The Committee met this week, and has agreed that we are to proceed with the Official Opening of the Omaka Branch Line and Station on Saturday March 21st.  Invitations for this event will be emailed out by early next week, but all members and partners will be invited. The final programme details are still being finalised, but the basic format will be as follows.


· Start time at the Omaka Station at 2.30 pm on Saturday March 21st. Guests can drive there and park as directed on arrival.


· Several speeches and then a ribbon cutting.


· Official guests board the train and railcar, and depart for Brayshaw Park Station, for refreshments. If necessary, there may be a second train load.


· Trains will carry guests back to Omaka at the conclusion.


· The line will not be open for public running on that day. This will start the following day, as part of normal Sunday running.


· The 3 days of the big Easter Air Show, will start less than 2 weeks later.

With this target date being confirmed, there is still work to do to complete the project. Plenty has been happening in the background. · Bob, Russell and their team have built the platform walls, including the access ramp. · Mike and his team, including Ted, Campbell and James, have filled and levelled the platform which has now been poured.


· Ralph has been working with Davidson’s Engineering and Eckford Engineering to prepare the reinforcing bases for a future Omaka Station veranda roof.


· The big pour of about 16 cubic metres of concrete, for the platform top happened on Saturday January 31st 


· The ex Kekerengu Station building was  uplifted from Brayshaw Park, and lowered onto its new foundation at Omaka, on Saturday February 7th.


· Workers from the Marlborough Guild of Woodworkers are making the sign boards for the Omaka Station.


· Ralph is collecting the fencing panels for the platform in the next week.


· Lew Bright has volunteered to build the replacement stock fencing – probably in early March.


So you see - Has been a very busy little Railway.

Omaka Branch opened

Posted by Darrin Wilkinson on September 27, 2014 at 3:05 AM

The first passengers have travelled on a new rail route to Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre mooted to boost Blenheim's tourist potential.


The Omaka branch line is New Zealand's only two-foot gauge railway line.


Construction workers and engineers involved in the two-year build on the 1-kilometre line enjoyed its first time on the tracks between Brayshaw Park and Omaka.


Seventy-year-old locomotive George pulled 75 passengers over along the track and over a newly constructed bridge.


Its grand opening will be in March next year ahead of the crowd-pulling Omaka Airshow.


Marlborough District Council and the Canterbury Community Trust had pumped $70,000 into the project and around 25 volunteers from Blenheim Riverside Railway Society were involved in its construction alongside Simcox Construction and the Davidson Group


Mayor Alistair Sowman said it was very much a community project.


"Persistence was their key, how could we say no? When they came to us with their compelling story we were pleased to get involved."


Ian Simcox, owner of Simcox Construction, said staff and volunteers on the project had become like family.


"Looking at this track reminds me of those that helped on the Burma Line during the war and by the age of the volunteers they were probably involved in that too," he laughed.


General manager of passenger operations Blenheim Riverside Railway Society John Orchard said the line would be a tourist pull.


Trips on the line would be incorporated into packages for cruise ship tourists and conference goers also visiting Omaka Heritage Centre, Marlborough's wineries and riverboat cruises.


- The Marlborough Express

Bridge is in use and work continues to Omaka

Posted by Darrin Wilkinson on August 3, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Just a quick update on the Omaka extension. 

We have finished the bridge and track has been laid and bolted to the bridge. We are now slowly making progress to our Omaka terminal. 

Members have been extremely busy with this work plus having to conduct repairs to the track due to flooding and the leaving of trees and slit on our bridges and track. 

 We are continuing to make very pleasing progress with the Omaka Branch Line. The  photos will help tell the story.

 Photo above shows the newly completed railway cutting taken in June, that brings the line down from the raised ground in Brayshaw Park, into the Taylor River berm. Note Mike Dolan finishing off the filling in of this section with our tractor and loader. Mike and Lew finished filling in the cutting yesterday morning. Note also the grey painted mini scoop which they use to move river gravel ballast, in loads of about 2 cubic meters.

 Photo taken last month  shows our recently completed steel and concrete Taylor River bridge. Note the rail formation that was yesterday connected to the eastern end of the bridge. Note also the pairs of rails spread along the bridge. Doug Dean and his merry men will start bolting these to the bridge from tomorrow. The rail formation on the western (far side) end of the bridge can be seen curving away to the belt of pine trees. Track laying should be underway on this section in the next 2 weeks. Our 4.5 Tonne excavator, ( Johnny B), can be seen resting on the western side. This continues to give invaluable service with the project.


Photo above taken a month ago shows the rail formation being constructed across the farmland of the Corlett Estate, with the Aviation and Classic Cars Museums in the background. The 12 Tonne excavator has been hired to us by Ian Simcox. Note the soil removal, and the start of filling in the formation with river gravel. To the right of the digger, note the ancient Taylor River channel that is being filled in. Russell has surveyed this section and put in the level pegs.

Photo -  Members of the Blenheim Riverside Railway having a well deserved break at the Omaka side of the river. We are always after new members - so if you feel that you want to join a bunch of Good old Boys and Ladies, meet at the loco shed around 8.30 on a Saturday Morning - you will be made more than welcome. 

Photo - Our work train crossing the new bridge to continue working on our Omaka extension on 2nd August 2014. 

Bridge is in use and work continues to Omaka

Posted by Darrin Wilkinson on August 3, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Just a quick update on your Omaka extension. 

We have finished the bridge and tack has been laid. We are now slowly making progress to our Omaks terminal. 

Members have been extremely busy with this work plus having to conduct repairs to your track due to flooding and the leaving of trees and slit on our bridges and track. 

The Bridge is complete and we are laying track.

Posted by Darrin Wilkinson on May 28, 2014 at 8:40 PM

. Blenheim Riverside Railway Society reached another major milestone in the creation and development of one of New Zealand's most diverse and scenic railways in the modern era.

The Society has just successfully completed our major civil engineering feat using society members, contacts, supporters and sponsors to drive our bridge piles into the Taylor River and then using local companies design, construct and complete our rail bridge to the new terminus of Omaka.

Photos-  Russell Hopkins at left, and Mike Dolan. Russell is a retired engineer, project manager of the Omaka Branch Line project and a man with many valuable contacts. Mike is a retired man of many talents including heavy machinery repair and driving, black smithing, building, general engineering, farming and flying.

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Annual General Meeting Notice

Posted by Darrin Wilkinson on May 1, 2014 at 9:45 PM

All members and supporters are most welcome.

We are always happy to have some new blood on our committee.

Omaka Branch update.

Posted by Darrin Wilkinson on March 10, 2014 at 4:05 AM

This is an undate about our exciting extension to Omaka.

The triange has been completed and waits to to be signed off and certified.

Work has begun on our bridge with piles being driven into the riverbed and concrete cappings being placed on these. The next step will be to start to lay the track on the new trackbed towards the bridge.

Please note that this is a construction site and members of the pubic and society members must stay way. 

·   Simcox Construction has also been removing some large accumulations of gravel from the channel, upstream of this site. The public are using this area in growing numbers to walk, run and cycle. They are already appreciating the temporary ford and access roads, to cross the river in this area.