Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tin hares in the Illawarra

Continuing with the broad South Coast theme, though diverging from North Wollongong at times, its time to take a peak at the CPH rail motor class. Known affectionately these days as 'tin hares', their ubiquitous presence on Illawarra passenger services in the 1970s and early 1980s produced less affection.

Built for low level passenger demand on light regional and rural branch lines, their deployment on standard commuter services was a travesty. Linked into multiple workings, set on tight timetables and expected to carry full passenger loads during peak times at the end of their working life, they produced an unacceptably inferior service for South Coast passengers during the decade prior to electrification.

Enough grizzling; lets see what they looked like from the outside. Here is your standard 4 car working, roaring northwards to... surprise surprise... North Wollongong.

That train would have been off to Waterfall, where everyone would have tumbled out into a suburban electric service to complete the trip to the State capital.

In this next shot, CPH 5 leads two sisters into North Wollongong station, in early 1985. This train was actually the first service out of Wolllongong after a particularly protracted strike. From memory it was nearly a week's duration.

Moving away from Norff Gong, it is time to head to the place where it all happened, Wollongong itself.  At Wollongong loco depot, two hares slowly baste in the afternoon sun.

On duty in Wollongong east Dock is CPH 37 with a sibling. These were headed up the escarpment to Moss Vale, though it was relatively rare for double CPHs to work up the hill.

As if proof was needed, here is the same train actually on the climb to Dombarton.

Returning to the prosaic, here is another 4 car consist, going away from the Port Kembla terminus.

And to finish up, two shots from up the line. The first is a cracker of CPH 32 heading north with two others in tow. This photo is so good it doesn't deserve to be in our collection, which suggests it was knocked off the internet and inadvertently classified as one of ours. I certainly have no recollection of taking it. To the unknown photographer, apologies.

Finally, this one comes from an earlier period. CPHs top and tail a CTH trailer car into Helensburgh, with a Wollongong-bound service.

Until next time!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Illawarra workings - first of many!

This is the start of a series of blogs which have been formulating within the grey matter for a number of months.  While I and other family members have taken photos across hundreds of NSW locations over the past five decades, perhaps the most thematically interesting has been the series taken in our own backyard – so to speak.

I speak of a location just south of North Wollongong station, where the South Coast railway line rolled past my paternal grandparents’ home.  From a gate in the back fence one could step out onto the Railway’s land to watch trains pass.  Often there was insufficient time to unbolt the gate so it was necessary to just hang over the fence.

For a child, a four foot high paling fence was fairly impregnable so one had to rely on assistance.  Taller kids could stand on the upturned buffer which had been planted adjacent to the gate.  Slightly shorter kids used the buffer as a step up into a soil-filled ‘dunny can’ which was growing mint.  Or one could rely on adult assistance, which I did from the youngest age. As can be seen from the next photograph, this blogger was made pretty comfortable at this location from fairly early on – thank you uncles!
Freight trains approaching from the north gave little advance notice of their arrival, and so it was with express passenger trains.  Local passengers were more obliging; whistling upon departure from North Wollongong station – or ‘Norf Gong’ as it was more frequently referred to.

The lack of warning about trains from the north was counterbalanced by trains headed to Sydney.  From several steps out onto the railway property it was possible to see the mile or so south to Wollongong Station.

For many years, seasoned train hunters at this location had their best warning about approaching trains by just looking southwards about 400 yards or so.  There, until its demise in the mid-1980s, the Gipps Street level crossing stood – making it a relatively simple task to see whether the boom gates were positioned at the vertical or had been lowered.

Now, before we launch into a few of this collection, there is nothing particularly stunning about the location or many of the photographic compositions.  They are prosaic scenes, made less so by the passage of time.  The sun rose in the morning – meaning that morning photographs were usually backlit, and many photos were very hurriedly composed using both a manual focus and light meter.  And then time has deteriorated the colours and sharpness of the details in many photographs.

However, taken together the photos encapsulate a pretty good experience of workings across four decades from 1960 onwards.  I am grateful to those who snapped away when photography was a relatively expensive hobby. Coming into the backyard there was always a heightened expectation that something was going to come by, just if the back gate was open.  Often the family camera could be seen hanging off a fence paling and more than once I recall seeing the camera hooked around the neck of a family member mowing lawns or gardening.

Enough reminiscing! Lets start with the very ordinary (in the nice sense). It is a 30 class tank headed north with the morning pick-up in the early 1960s. The S wagons at the head of the train are likely to be for Thirroul, but may have been shunted off before then.

On another day, 3093 does the honours with the same train.

Books on the subject note the affinity 32 class locomotives had with Illawarra workings. They were ideally suited for the role, with good acceleration and the ability to climb with decent loads.  In the next photograph, 3227 heads to Sydney with a consist typical for the early 1960s.

In the afternoon, the schoolies’ train ran with whatever loco was available at Thirroul depot. On this day, thought to be in 1964, 5273 heads the schoolies’ south to Kiama.  There are few items of interest to note with this photo, including the ‘tuscan and russet’ livery on the first carriage.  

Also notable is the sizeable passionfruit vine over the wood shed and the use of railway sleepers as fence posts.  Keen eyed viewers will note a juvenile eucalyptus tree growing in the railway corridor.  This tree is absent in later photographs, for which the official line is to express appreciation to the authorities for its removal.  I am sure that that is precisely what happened!

And to finish up on this post, its time for a doubleheader. I do not have immediate access to my learned counsel on this one, so I am making an informed guess that 3034 is light attached in order for it to work the Moss Vale ‘squirt’ out of Wollongong after the P class heads further south.  The thing I find most interesting about this photograph is the laconic manner of the two firemen on the locos, seemingly having a chat down the length of the P class.

Plenty more to come so please stay tuned!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Central in the 90s


Another month has gone by, nearly. I have my priorities completely askew at the moment... Moving house, renovations, work, stuff, etc. it should be nostalgically trawling through photos. Anyway, no time like the present to get lost in the 90s...

By the 90s, Central at night was pretty boring, unless it was downright dangerous.  It's probably why 4817 was found snuggled up in the parcels roads behind platform 1 in the early 1990s.

Here is the most garish 80 class ever to tread the rails.  At the front of an Indian Pacific which was very very late, its appearance came as a total surprise to this laconic commuter.

Now for a couple of the Snora (Melbourne Express for the purists) in the lead up to its replacement by an XPT. First up, 8166 is ready to set off into the burbs.

This is not the same train, obviously, given its on another platform. But it is a representative consist for the period.

One could still get 'traditional Snora' shots long after the train's name had changed.

While on expresses, here is one which headed north. This is actually a fairly rare shot at xploder had a cross-over with loco hauled expresses for only a couple of months. This was late November, 1993.

On to the spare and bizarre.  Here is 42212 off a Southern Highlands service.

And now for the obligatory 'I don't know why it was there' shot. I suspect it was a works train....

And to finish off, here is a U boat. Pretty much the most exotic thing you could get after 1995 at Central.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Koolewong, part III

Folks, its time to cover off some of the types of passenger services which frequented Koolewong in the recent past.

One of the things I like most about this location is the super-elevation placed on the right of way, to allow trains to traverse the location at relatively high speed.  So even if the trains aren't exotic, the angles are somewhat.

Nothing could be less exotic than a V set,  but this one starting to lean into a curve, heading north, gets marginally more interesting.

Stopping services on the return pose issues for guards, who must check that passengers have joined or left the train safely. Here, one such guard does that.

Time to acknowledge the banal. A Tangara. Enough said.

Express services race through at 80kph, which is far too quick for my little camera.

Eight long distance services pass through daily. Six involve XPTs, like this Brisbane-bound service.

The other service is the North West Xplorer.

Apart from the regularly scheduled passenger services, Koolewong gets its fair share of tourist and heritage operations. First up, the Cockie headed north!

Then the sublime... 3801 doing what it did best, going as fast as it was allowed.

On another sunny day, the RTM's 4201 headed north on its way to Maitland Steamfest.

On the same weekend as shown in part 1 of this series 3112 was caught ad it worked through to Gosford.

All trains heading out of the big smoke have to return... Here 3642 does just that in the gloom.

Finally, its back to electric traction, but preserved electrics. What was once probably mundane... double 86s... is now no more, or very rare.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Koolewong freights

In part II of this trilogy, I thought we would move a bit closer to the rail action at Koolewong. 

The staple of intrastate freight is coal, usually hauled by triple or quad 82 class locomotives. Over the past decade interlopers like DL, G and 81 class locos have been sighted in the shafts. On one such day, 8218 led two sisters plus an 81 on a coal heading north.

81s regularly get a run up front on grain trains, on this occasion with a couple of 48s trundling behind.

If 82s and 81s have intrastate freight tied up, the same could be said until recently for NRs with interstate freight. Coming the other way on dusk are two members of that class.

Now, a few more unusual 'items'. First up, a former Victorian government X class loco working south for the Queensland government.

And now two Western Australian government K class locos trailed by a native NSW loco on a ballast.

Now for a couple of RL class locos which entered service in the era of private operators, without possessing a State heritage.

And back to the old warhorse, a former NSWGR 442 class wearing privateer colours. Behind it a sister 442 and an Alco cousin, 45s1.

And finally, when it gets quiet late at night, peace does come to Koolewong.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

From the water's edge

For those unfamiliar with the NSW Central Coast, between Woy Woy and Gosford the railway line hugs the shoreline of a body of water known as Brisbane Waters. The first stop north of Woy Woy is Koolewong, which has morphed from a fishing outpost to a commuter suburb.

Koolewong has a wharf and a park, right on the water. From here one can watch trains to the south as they curve past Murphy's Point.  A more committed photographer can do a lot with framing and composure, but you are just getting my lazy attempts to capture services as part of a larger landscape.  First up, a Tangara.

Now for a XPT, heading to Grafton.

The other ubiquitous sight are V set interurbans.

Now, completely out of left field, 3112 on a 3801 Ltd tour.

And now its time for a few freights. Firstly, the standard 2+1 combo- two NRs and a DL on a Pacific National freight. Somewhat uncommonly, the DL is not marshalled between the NRs.

Headed the other way are two GLs on a freight out of Newcastle.

Perhaps my favourite is the following, a classic combo of back to back CLPs or CLFs... Operated by QR National at the time, off to Brisvegas.

And now to finish on an arty shot by Junior, across the water at night.

I have a couple more sets of Koolewong shots to come, so please stay tuned and thanks for sticking around.