Saturday, October 15, 2011

Central's 73s

In my last post I mentioned that 48 classes did more than any other class of loco to dieselise the branch lines of the NSW railway system.  Sure, 49s removed the need for many mainline and branchline steam locos and 47s were the locos which removed the very last of the steam, but it was the 48 class which did the damage.

While 48s removed steam from branchlines, it was the 73 class shunting locomotive which removed steam from shunting yards (metropolitan and regional) across the state.  It must have been a great relief for loco crews to learn that their 60 to 100 year-old locomotives were being replaced by shiny, clean, urbane diesels.  

Long after steam had been removed, a squad of 73s could still be found wandering around Sydney Terminal.  Again, as they were so ubiquitous at the time, it was rare that I would waste precious film on a mere shunter.  This attitude changed slowly, with the result that I have very few photographs of shunting in Sydney yard until the very late period of their operation.  Anyway, lets have a look at a few which did not manage to hide behind a pole or a mainliner.

Here is 7346 in the early 1980s, displaying its initial, rather pleasing livery.

In late December 1983 7311 and 7310 (in the 'SRA Candy' livery) were stowed between platform roads, awaiting the next call to duty.

By 1988 those 73s still carrying their inaugural livery were starting to look slightly weathered.

Around this time I moved to Sydney, which meant more opportunities for nocturnal forays along the platforms.  These trips were usually to discover which mainliner was at the head of the Southern Aurora, the Spirit (of Progress), the Brisvegas Limited or the Gold Coast Motorail.  However, sometimes 73s jumped out at you, like this night in 1988 when 7339 trundled out of the western carriage sheds as I stood on platform 1.

While the tuscan/indian red livery always photographed rather blandly under lights, the candy livery was the opposite. Indeed, as displayed by 7302 just after dusk, the candy livery seemed to work better after the sun went down.

By 1990 it was clear that the need for these little locos to haunt Sydney yard was dwindling.  Fewer and heavier loco-hauled passenger trains reduced the need for light-weight shunters.  Still, one could often catch a glimpse of a 73 having the honour of shunting the motorail wagons onto the Indian Pacific twice-weekly, as 7307 is doing in the following photograph. Observant readers will notice that 07 is carrying the 'yellow reverse' livery, designed to improve the visibility of the locomotive to photographers (and railway workers).

I think that the final time I saw a 73 performing the Sydney year duties on a regular basis was in January 1991 when 7344 seemed to be the loco of choice.  7344 carried an experimental livery which made it extremely easy to spot from a distance. Apparently these livery ensured that it received the appellation - the green frog.  Regardless whether the livery was flattering, over two decades later it still adorns this locomotive, though much weathered.

During 1991 the 73 class seemed to make an unheralded exit from Sydney yard.  They were replaced by, not unexpectedly, those bl**dy 48 class locos!

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