Still keep­ing it rail af­ter 50 years

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MATT BROWN

Rail still has a lot of sto­ries 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.

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 driver’s 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.

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.

‘‘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.’’

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.’’

‘‘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.’’

Lo­co­mo­tive en­gi­neer Trevor Gullery, from Pic­ton, started at the rail yards in the mid 60’s driv­ing steam trains.

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