Electrification Opening Ceremony 2007.

On Saturday 9 June at 1.30 pm on a mild sunny mid-winters day over 160 railway enthusiasts from all over New Zealand, plus a few from Australia gathered on the platform at Moorhouse railway station to celebrate the launch of the electrification of the main railway line between Moorhouse and Ferrymead stations.

Right: The crowds begin to gather at Moorhouse station.

What gives huge interest to this event is that it is a world first. Most railway museums throughout the world operate steam locomotives and many have diesel locomotives in their operating fleet. But the Ferrymead Railway is the first heritage railway anywhere in the world to run mainline electric locomotives using overhead wiring erected by its own members, and its own substation, built some years ago by members of the Canterbury Branch of the Institute of Electricians. It is the only railway museum able to boast the operation of all three forms of motive power.

During the opening speeches the electric traction department was presented by Cameron Moore (CEO of OnTrack) the prestigious OnTrack award for railway infrastructure which was awarded in recognition of this achievement at the recent conference of the Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand (FRONZ) in Dunedin.

Above from left to right: Society president Bruce Shalders displaying the award about to be presented. Bert Coombes accepting the award from Cameron Moore on behalf of the electric traction dept. A close up of the award.

Speeches from attending dignitaries: From left to right: East MP Lianne Dalziel. Christchurch City Councillor David Cox. Bill Prebble representing the NZ Railway and locomotive society.

After the brief ceremony, Christchurch City Councillor David Cox and Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel cut the ribbon held by Nigel Hogg (representing FRONZ) and John Brouwer (representing the Rail Heritage Trust) which signified the first electric passenger train to depart Moorhouse station.

Above: Ec 7 departing Moorhouse Station enroute to Ferrymead Station with the first public train.
Photograph by Stefan van Vliet.
Time of a cup of tea and a bite on return from the first run. Foreground with blue hat chatting is Kerry Young, author of Branchlines and the award winning 'Flugel'. Middle of photo and middle distance is member Graham Inwood with camera around neck.

Moorhouse station was transformed over the weekend also. There were images of the profiles on each electric locomotive class at Ferrymead on the walls, boards displaying photographs of electric locos in their running days at Otira and on the Christchurch - Lyttelton line, and three computers set up displaying slide shows of the electrics in their operating days, photos for them at various stages of their running life at Ferrymead and photographs of the creation of the over head cable since the project began. One-off brochures were also produced for the day. Sunday allowed the general public to ride the electrics between stations and by late afternoon it began raining.

Overall, the weekend was a great success and full credit to all those who took part in the creation of the over head cable and to those who organised the official opening and made it the special day it was. Congratulations to all those members. A special thanks also to MP Lianne Dalziel, Councillor David Cox, Bill Prebble, Cam Moore and John Brouwer for being part of this special occasion.

Look out for photos in the gallery from public running days in the future.

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