Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Monday 1981

Staying with the theme of the last blog on this site, Easter, Sydney Terminal and holiday loadings, I thought I would venture back 31 years this time. 

Intuition would suggest that the end of a holiday period would be nearly as busy as the start of a period, with returning Sydneysiders mixing with people who had holidayed in that location moving off to their country abodes.  Still, Easter Monday never seemed to get the bad wrap from the NSW Railways that Easter Thursday received.  I guess the peak period was dissipated somewhat.

Regardless, I can’t remember the precise reason why the Senior Train Hunter and I attended Central on Easter Monday 1981, but I am pretty glad we did.

The train-watching started well enough at 5:00pm with 4486 doing the honours on the down evening Newcastle Flyer with Set 119 in tow.

Thirty minutes later it was time for 44238 to leave with the down Southern Highlands Express to Canberra.  It took Set 131 along for the ride, composed by a HN, SCN, SCN, FRN and a HN at the rear.  Once again, I think the lure of the railway meat pie may have grown too strong as there is nothing written by way of a sighting for an hour after this train let.

At 6:30pm the first of the big trains left.  On this evening 44204 and 44231 hauled the Brisbane Limited Express away from platform 1.  At 13 carriages – a PHS, NAM, LAN, NAM, PAM, SDS, ADS, OFS, RDX, SBS, SBS, SDS and MHO – it was truly a big train.

Ten minutes later a 442 led a 44 out on the Gold Coast Motorail.  This train was composed by two MBYs, a PHS, LAN, NAM, NAM, NAM, SDS, ODS, RBS, SFR, SBS, BH, BH, MHO and then a KB for good measure.

While I didn’t record the interurban trains generally, one I did note was the 7:10pm Lithgow service.  It was composed by a 46 class and Set 111, with a FG tucked in behind the locomotive.

At 7:40pm the first of the mail trains rolled out of the Terminal.  44207 hauled the seven car strong North Coast Mail – FS, FS, TFX, MBE, TAM, KP and a MHO – out of the station right on time.

It was but an entree for the diesel-hauled train of the night – the combined North Mails.  Just ten minutes after 44207 had left with its mail, another 442 (supported by a 44) hauled an eleven-car train out to Redfern and then to points north.  The first five carriages were headed to Moree – an FS, XFS, BS, MCE and MHO formed this part of the train.  

Lets just pause here to contemplate the MHO.  Take a good look at the following photograph.

Yes, its a fairly standard, fairly bland guards van. Just take another peak inside that open sliding door.  OK, its Easter Monday so there is a bit of additional traffic, but the street box mail hasn't been collected for a few days.  The MHO is chockers - stacked to the roof line. Lucky the railways didn't consider that this sort of traffic and revenue was valuable to them, because it was gone within a decade, which enabled the administrators to also cut the associated overnight passenger traffic.
But I digress... The citizens of Armidale were getting a real treat with their part of the North Mails – tucked in behind the BAM sleeper, the passengers were given the option of a ride in an ACS – where it was possible to find 1st class luxury, 2nd class austerity and sleeping berths all under the same (carriage) roof.  The rest of the train was a fairly bland combination of BS, XFS, KP and a MHO.  The ACS was so exotic, I even took a photograph of it.

The night only got better with the departure of the Southern Aurora at 8:00pm, led by 8024 and 44204.  On this particular night it was constituted by two MBYs and 14 carriages.  Shortly following the Aurora was 8026 and 4439 on a twelve car Spirit of Progress. While the following photograph is a tad overexposed, at least it gives some idea the writing on the back wall of the cab of the 80 class.

Just when the night seemed like it was winding down, in through the yard strolled the wheezing blackness of Rosie – 5367 with a water ginty, L wagon and Set 107.  Welcome to Sydney!

Admiration for this steamy veteran distracted me from the arrival of 42214 from Canberra at 9:30pm, though I looked away long enough to note that its trains was composed by an MCE, TBC, BS, FS, BS, FS and a MHO.

The last three mails of the night were headed west, west and south respectively. 

At 9:55pm double 46s were scheduled for the West Mails.  Like the North Mails earlier, this was a combined train due to be split at Orange.  In the first part, a MFE, MCS, MCS, SFX, TAM, KP and MHO were headed to Dubbo.  The remainder of the train – a FS, MCS, BAM and a MHX were off to Forbes.

Another 46 was also rostered for the west-bound Mudgee Mail.  4627 had the light duty of hauling a single MCS and ATP across the mountains.

The final train for the night was the South Mail.  I had left the station by the time it did, but the cars in the platform for the service were a BS, BS, ECM, XBS, TAM, KP, MHO and another ATP.  Of course, I had left before the final departure because I had work the next day, which I have tomorrow so its time to end this missive.

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