• Fiji

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by David Benton
Anyone know of trains running in Fiji ? i recall seeing some pictures of steam operated sugar cane trains , but i m not sure if there are regualr trains there or not .
im tossing up between Fiji and Australia for a couple of weeks holiday next month , Fiji appeals for relaxing on the beach , Australia for riding trains . However im in need of some relaxation time , i think me with a n Australian rail pass might turn into a endurance test , especially with sleeper upgrades been quite expensive .

  by Sir Ray
I seem to recall some rumours that Oz has a few decent beaches - perhaps I was mistaken in that regard.

http://www.stonedcrow.com/stonedzone/ZO ... eaches.htm

Oh yes, according to this site, there is only one real working railway in Fiji - diesel at that (not sure what he means by tourist trap railroads - sounds like those little 1:10 scale steamers you find at old amusement parks)


Note: One Fiji information page I found says there is 597km ! of narrow gauge railway belonging to the government-owned Fiji Sugar Corporation (well, as of 1995). That's a surprizingly sizable system.

  by David Benton
lol , yes im sure Australia has some beaches that are almost as good as New Zealand's .( that should bring any Aussies out of the woodwork ) !.

Certainly one of my options is to fly to Sydney or Brisbane ,and take the train up the coast to Cairns ,problem is ive already done that trip as far as Rockhampton . but id like to check out the new tilt train .

The sugar trian looks interesting , and its the right time of the seasin ny the look . 579 km seems like a lot , probably invcludes sidings etc , and the lines are probably pretty intensive in the sugar fields . remember thats only 360 miles .

Thanks for the links .
  by David Benton
Well I'm in Fiji , and theres narrow gauge railway lines all over the place , they dont look to rusted , so im hopinfg to see some trains tomorrow , which will be monday . I'm in Latoka , which has the rail line down the middle of the main street , so hopefully i will get some good pictures .

  by David Benton
Yesterday i walked around and found the mill site , plenty of track , large yards , and wagons full of sugar cane . apparently the trains arent running because its too wet to cut or process the cane . Around the other side of the mill i found the loco depot , couldnt really see many locos , but there seemed to be at least 10 parked in there . Today i took th bus to Suva the capital , on the way passed many miles of track , and a maintenance jigger , with around 6 workmen on it .
The weather should clear , and hopefully i 'll get some photos of some trains .
  by David Benton
Well , today i rode the tourist rain .
I was walking through the town on Sigitoka , looking for sugar trains , when i came across a little diesel loco ( 0-4-0 ) and a single carriage , sitting on the railway bridge , beside the main road . It didnt look as though it was going anywhere , i checked out the engine , looked like a brand new Detroit diesel , and as i walked past the carriage , i got a freindly hello .it was the conductor ( whose nametag called him "Mr Coconut "! ) I asked if there was any sugar trains running through town , and he said maybe this evening . i asked what time , and he said "fiji time" .which means it arrives when it arrives . got to talking and it turned out this was the tourist tain , it was leaving in 10 minutes , for a 1 hour trip to the huge fiji resort . He would sell me a one way ticket for around US $ 8 , about 1 /5 th what the tourists were paying . I went to get some food , and we were off . About 10 people on board .The engine was pretty loud , but nothing compared to the airhorns , which the driver sounded continuosly as we crossed the road , which took awhile as none of the cars took much notice of us . we then went through the town , across a large well maintained bridge , past a open air mosque , and into the countryside . Mr Coconut asked if id like to buy some sweets , to throw to the kids in the village who would come out to say 'bula" to the train . i declined , as i didnt like the idea of teachng the kids to beg from tourists . Sure enough at each house we passed , kids ran out to greet the train . we were probably moving at around 10 mph , so plenty of time to see the sights .Track was in reasonable condition , no real problems until we rounded a bend , and their was a wagonload of sugar cane parked on the mainline . We stopped short of a turnout , and the engineer , assistant ( who had been asleep uptill now! ) , mr coconut and a few kids , pushed it into the siding . while tthey were doing this , our train started slwly rolling backwards , it appears the handbrake wasnt working to well ! . They used bits of wood to hold the parked wagonload of sugar cane , and we were off again . Our engineers assistant was asleep again , but the egineer seemed to have everything under control . we tootled along quite nicely , past the sand dunes , the next point of interest was the tons refuse centre , Actually its flies , which decided to hitch a ride with us . Very amusing as our Indofijian hostess an mr Coconut tried to shoo them out of the carriage . After that we were running close to the beach . annd eventually arrived at the station , where another train , with a steam engine , was waiting . Apparently this is the Barbecue train , Tourists take it form the resort , further along the beach for a barbecue , then return . Cost is around USD $ 35 , and i would say it would be an entertaining trip . But it was back to town by taxi for me , but i enjoyed the impromtu trip .
  by george matthews
David Benton wrote:Well , today i rode the tourist rain .
I was walking through the town on Sigitoka , looking for sugar trains , when i came across a little diesel loco ( 0-4-0 ) and a single carriage , sitting on the railway bridge , beside the main road .
Any idea what gauge these lines are?

  by David Benton
Good question George , and one i wondered myself , but didnt think to check . My quess would be 2 foot 6 inches , certainly wouldnt be more than 3 foot , or less than 2 foot .
Yesterday was my last day in fiji , i went back to the mill , and no trains running , i hung around the depot and eventually a loco pulled up to refuel . Been a country that has had a couple of coups , i was abit weary about taking photos , eventually i decided to ask the driver if it was ok . turned out he was the pointsman , the driver was the dude in the cool shades , who, while he smiled at me , did not speak . However the pointsman( who rides on the loco to throw the points( turnouts ) was very informative . He explained the trains wern't running because it was too wet to get the cane out of the fields ( more on this latter ) . But they might "move a few empties around " . He invited me up into the cab , it had a plaque stating it was a Baldwin loco , built in Brisbane , Australia . He showed me the controls , a handbrake , and airbrake , ( needs about 600 to work , he explained , did he mean KPA of pressure ? ) . a reverse - forward lever , and a stop -idle -full throttle control , and that was about it . He then asked me to take a photo of the driver and him beside the loco ("for our good memories") , and gave me his address to send the photos .
On the bus to the airport this morning , i saw a tractor been used to pull wagons , and then a couple of wagons been pulled by a ox !
All within a couple of miles of the international airport .
Big changes are install for the Fijian sugar industry , and unfortunatley the trains may be a causalty . However the wet weather of late may save them , i will try to find links to the stories online , otherwise i'll copy them from the newspaper articles .

  by george matthews
Google produced this:

total: 597 km
narrow gauge: 597 km 0.600-m gauge
note: belongs to the government-owned Fiji Sugar Corporation; used to haul sugarcane during harvest season (May to September) (2002)<<

597 km is far more than I would have expected.

  by David Benton
600 mm is 2 foot , abit narrower than i thought .
597 k.m would include sidings and lines into sugar fields etc .
60 % of the cane used to be transported to the mills by rail . that has dropped to 40 % , with road rising to 60 % . However this has been a very wet season ( 5 times wetter than usual ) , and the trucks are getting stuck in the fields . Rail is less affected , hence the farmers are calling for more rail . apparently the sugar corp has run the system down . Good news for rail .
The bad news is the E.U has reduced the price it pays for Fijian sugar by around 30 % ( due to pressure from other sugar producers ).So , either alot less sugar will be produced , and / or efficencies will be sought .Either way it seems rail will lose out , mainly i think through capital cost of any replacement etc . Labour rates are very low , so thats probalby not much of a factor , distances are short , so fuel costs probably arent significant either .
Road transport of course does not pay for capital improvements / maintenance to the roads they run on , Japanese secondhand imported trucks are readily avaliable , i dont know what trucls pay in the way of road tax etc . So it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years .

  by george matthews
David Benton wrote:600 mm is 2 foot , a bit narrower than i thought .
Most Welsh Narrow gauge is half an inch under two foot, especially the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland. So, it's a gauge capable of heavy work.

  by David Benton
Yes the trains are quite long , the locos probably 400 hp or so .
The rail wieght looked similiar to what we would use here on 1067 mm gauge . sleepers were either concrete , or steel ready made sections ( sleepers and track stacked ready to lay in the fields . Bridges are substantial , either concrete or steel . i hope i didnt make this sound like a "toy train" operation , Certainly it has had alot of capital poured into it in the past , but looks as though maintenance has been cut back , and future capital investment looks bleak .
ill post some photos later .

  by David Benton