As its been, according to my notes, precisely 15 years to the day that a brave rail transportation experiment was attempted in northern NSW.
On 2 October 1997 42107 and 42109 hauled the first revenue-earning freight service for the Northern Rivers Railroad. The private company had been formed sometime earlier, with the intention of operating a passenger service for the tourist market along the Casino to Murwillumbah branch line.
However on this day 15 years ago,freight services were also commenced along this very picturesque railway.
I only happened to see the NRR (as it became to be known) in operation along this branch once, so you are going to have to put up with a few shots of the same train as part of this salute.
To set the background for this, it was no rail chasing weekend. I had been in the north on business and just 'accidentally' drove by Murwillumbah station on my way south on 30 September 1998 - so the NRR was just about to celebrate its first anniversary of freight haulage.
I was very heartened to find 42103 at the head of a short freight, idling in the station...
And even happier to find a gleaming 42107 tucked in behind it...
Soon enough, the chase was on. All I had with me was a $50 Instamatic camera of 1980s vintage, loaded with 100 ISO film. Still, it was better than nothing I reasoned. The following photograph, taken near Burringbar, tested the old Instamatic to a bit beyond its boundaries.
At Byron Bay, a slowly accelerating train gave the camera a bit more latitude. 42107's emissions were another form of latitude.
My final snap came on the outskirts of Lismore. It was a trailing shot of the two locos making good time, as they had done the entire journey.
This photograph includes the supposed Achilles heel of the branch line - its aging timber bridges. These structures were used as the reason to close the entire branch within a decade, by which time the freight service had also succumbed to road freight competition.
Nonetheless, the NRR livery still treads the east coast on its former locomotives. And none looked better than the 421 class in this startling coat of paint. So, thanks for trying NRR!