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Rail still has a lot of story to tell and a bright future, according to an industry veteran.
Locomotive engineer Trevor Gullery, from Picton, started at the rail yards in the mid 60's driving steam trains.
Fifty years later and though the industry, the owners and the technology had changed around him, he still enjoyed climbing into the cockpit of a loco. "It's a job," Gullery said.
He had never been a foamer, "when people foamed at the mouth over trains", he joined the industry because he saw rail as a safe job.
Gullery in the cabin of a locomotive. He has been driving trains for nearly four decades.
He worked his way up the ladder, spending two years as a cleaner in the steam sheds and seven years as a fireman before sitting his second-grade driver's ticket.
After four years, he was able to sit his first-grade drivers ticket. "Of course, today, it's totally different," he said.
He spent his early career in Christchurch and Auckland before an opportunity in Kaikoura came up where he spent several years.
A JA-class steam train 1240 racing through Templeton on the outskirts of Christchurch on the daily South Express in 1971. Trains such as this were what Gullery trained on.
Gullery was then offered a position in Picton for "a couple of years", coming full circle back to his home town, and he never left.
He got involved in yachting and met his wife, Deb. He said Picton was a good place to bring up kids.
"The industry used to be hugely different," Gullery said.
"With steam, you had two engineers in the cab and you had guards on the back of the train.
"They also took longer to get anywhere.
"We always had guards to watch for 'hot-box' fires. There were no mirrors either so the guards would watch out the back and they would clip passengers tickets.
"In the modern day, passenger trains have train managers rather than guards," he said.
He said rail will be around for a long time yet, one of rail's biggest customers were the freight companies because, "they can't get enough trucks on the road."
The controls inside a JA class steam locomotive, a nostalgic sight for Gullery.
After the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake rail was bought to a screeching halt, and it still hadn't quite recovered.
The quake destroyed road and rail along the coast and completely stopped trains coming out of Picton, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. Day trains had restarted along the line on October 9.
"They've done a fantastic job to get it open,' Gullery said. "What NCTIR are doing is really good."
The JA class of steam locomotives remained Gullery's favourite train, although he claims he's not a 'foamer'.
"It's slow going along the coast because of stopping distances and track conditions. They still have spotters on slips and alarms on fences. But they've made it as safe for us as possible.
However, Gullery had a warning for the people of Marlborough who may have grown complacent about the level crossings.
"People have been going across these level crossings for a few years now with nothing there, and they say familiarity breeds contempt," he said.
"There's something there now."
The first daytime freight trains for two years between Blenheim and Christchurch have started. A big change from trains only running at night, so motorists and pedestrians beware.
This article first appeared on www.stuff.co.nz
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