The Romance of Steam Trains (Photos)


The debate about the proposed Parnell train stop at Cheshire St prompted some emails asking how Mainline Steam fits into this.

Mainline Steam has been in the old Parnell shed near Auckland Domain for over 20 years.

It’s a familiar sight to regular rail travellers who pass alongside on their way to or from Newmarket.

But the trust running it doesn’t own the land and Kiwirail, which does, wants them to move on.
The suggested new location is out west near Henderson at Paremuka.

Some locals out that way have opposed Mainline setting up its depot there saying it’s too close to residential areas.

Mainline Steam, which makes its money from rail excursions, and uses mainly volunteers, does an important job in helping preserve an important part of our rail history.

Inside the Mainland depot

Inside the Mainline depot

Mainland's pride and joy in its Parnell depot

Mainline's pride and joy in its Parnell depot

As I reported last month and updated this week , the Parnell community committee and Parnell Inc pushed for a “destination” Parnell train stop and for the station to be a tourist attraction, incorporating the present Mainline steam building as the centrepoint.

The idea is to develop KiwiRail land at Cheshire Street into a destination in its own right, centred around re-development of the magnificent carriage works building and highlighting the rich heritage of the Waipapa Stream valley. The plan also incorporates the old Newmarket Station building and signal house.

Reader Roger Kirk recently went on a Mainline Steam Kaipara Canonball excursion and shares the photos of the trip - including this one of it heading in Newmarket. Thanks for the photos, Roger.

main newmarket

Why are steam trains romantic? is it the sounds like the steam whistles or that it belongs to another age? Type romantic and steam trains into Google and there are plenty of references but no-one has quite nailed why.

main sky

I notice this recent question to Yahoo Answers:
I am 18 and have never been out with anyone. If I ever take someone out on a date would a ride on a steam train be romantic? Everyone usually takes the girl out to a restaurant.

The answer chosen by Yahoo is:
Yes of course it is. But maybe something else as well as just a train ride. What is at the other end of the journey - is there something to do - walk along beach, visit another town, or food? Romance doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s the time together which makes it (or breaks it)!!

main hillWhile on the subject of steam, here are some photos of  the steam locomotive known as  Diana, operated by the Railway Enthusiasts Society - Ja1250 “from the old government NZ Railways department ,  bequeathed to the Glenbrook Vintage Railway by the late Phil Goldman.

diana goingdiana namediana




  1. Ian says:

    Pity the trust which will have to come up with the money for a new depot. It was Mainline Steams presence at Parnell that saved the old depot from demolition. There is no way these buildings would have survived the gas torch in an era when the Railways Corporation was hell bent on ridding itself of just about everything it possibly could in the way of land, buildings and plant. I remember seeing the lovely sleek 88′s in the depot for servicing.

  2. Andrew says:

    I think you’ve confused Mainline Steam with Mainland Cheese.

    Just keeping you on your toes :)

  3. Jon C says:

    Thanks Andrew, I got a bit cheesy about the romance part. Thanks for keeping me on track!


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