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By ROBYN BRISTOW

full steam ahead for the Weka Pass Railway – only without the steam.

Over the January summer break, the society will be running return trips every Sunday from Glenmark Station at Waipara to Waikari.

However, the familiar white plumes of steam will not be seen, with its vintage diesel locomotives doing the hard work over the summer months because of the fire risk and restrictions in force.

The Weka Pass Railway, only 50 minutes from central Christchurch, is a historic rural line running 12.8km through the Weka Pass, with its limestone outcrops.

The land was once under the sea and some of the surrounding limestone rocks have weathered into unusual shapes, most notably Frog Rock.

The original line opened to Waikari in 1882 and had extended to Waiau by 1919. Plans to extend the line to the West Coast, Nelson and Picton never eventuated, with the main line following the coast to Picton.

Regular passenger services were withdrawn in 1939 and the Waiau branch closed on January 18, 1978. The Weka Pass Railway bought the line after a union embargo ended in 1983.