Saturday, November 29, 2014

Picton, Part I

Picton has been one of my favourite places. Apart from the Picton Magpies rugby league team, there always seems to be railway action. The hills around Picton give plenty of notice of this action too, particularly from the south.  And the generations of signallers in Picton Signal Box always seemed friendly, to polite train hunters anyway.

As I have assembled quite a few mediocre photographs at Picton over the years there is enough for a series. While it probably won't be chronological I am going to start off with the stuff that I certainly didn't take as it was nearly before my time. 

First up is 3638 looking resplendent with its red-lined tender, on a fairly humble goods.

Also from the sixties is 4001 with short up goods.  The train itself is as interesting to me as the loco.  Two then-new (I am guessing) CH bogie coal wagons have been tarped and are carrying wheat. These are followed by a series of tarped S trucks - presumably also carrying grain - and then what looks like to be a single load of tarped wool. All off to Sydney.

Taken in 1968 (according to the stamp on the slide mount), 3652 is wrong road through Picton station with an up goods.

Presumably taken on the same day is a light engine movement of a 59 class - which I think was 5914.

Time for a couple of tour photographs, starting with one which will be recreated in 2015 hopefully - 3526 taking water at Picton.

And one which may be emulated in 2015 or 2016, if not recreated - it is 27 October 1968 and 3809 and 6009 hauled a sizeable tour train out of the yard.

Time to finish off with an interstate freight.  This time it is 4408 leading a 45 through the main up platform at speed.

Ciao for now!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Last ride on the West Mail

26 years ago this week the last mail trains ran in NSW. The Senior Train Hunter and yours truly had caught a fair few mail trains in the lead up to their cessation, including a number in July that year as part of a Nurail holiday which has been the subject of earlier posts.

As the time approached to their withdrawal, sensibly the administrators refused to expend scarce taxpayers' dollars on the upkeep of the superannuated rolling stock. This should have been a warning but instead I managed to convince my girlfriend of the time that a mail train would be a lovely romantic experience. She only fell for this once, but once was enough.

Concerned that I would be too late to get a berth or that she would change her mind, I remember rushing into the Central Booking Office the following day - only to find that I was the first to book on the sleeper scheduled to leave Central on Friday 18 November 1988. This also should have been a warning.

I don't recall the 46 class at the front of this august experience on the day in question.  I do however remember my companion's incredulous disbelief when I presented her with a three-car train - a MCS sitting car, a XAM sleeper and a LHY van. Her fantasy of an Orient Express experience was shattered.  

I also don't remember much of the trip. Having had a long week at work an no doubt something classy like a railway pie and a beer for dinner, I don't think I was awake at Blacktown. Like any gentleman I dispatched her to the upper bunk so I could check out anything interesting, like the loco change at Lithgow.  

So I don't really remember much at all... until Geurie about 5:30am the next day. I struggled to work out just what was up front. Turned out that there was a reason for this, as there were three Alcos hauling this massive service - 44217, 4808 & 4837.

Shot with the morning sun playing havoc with the shunter's vision, here are our trusty steeds having been detached from the train.

And now its time for a shot of the train itself.  Dubbo station is a bit of a tough place to get a decent wide shot, without a long walk around the yard and I had run out of credits so didn't even bother asking.  Instead I took a quick snap which highlights just why my travelling companion thought I had lost my mind when she first laid eyes on our carriage. 

It was none other than XAM 1888, survivor of the Sheffield Trike Challenge and still wearing its rather novel and striking livery.  As you may have guessed by now, it was hardly worthwhile suggesting further rail-related activities that day!

I did manage a snap of the XPT as it arrived later that day - the XPT was to return us to the big smoke that afternoon.  I managed to fluff the photograph, but have included it in this blog to show you just how tight the clearances were and may still be in Dubbo. 

And no, you don't need to ask - I wasn't encouraged to tour the Science Train parked in the dock!

Ciao for now!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Morriset, May 1969

In the May school holidays of 1969 we did a house swap with a family who lived in Morriset on the NSW central coast.  Unsurprisingly (not) for our family it had a prime view of the short north railway.

I don’t have dates for trip and not many photographs.  And I am not really sure that it was 1969, but it seems to make sense because I think we were trying out one of Dad’s great follies – a Ford Cortina which ended up having more clutches than the Queen Mother.

Anyway, back to the trains. I was ferreting through the sort of stuff that you get told deserves to be in a shed this afternoon and I found, amazingly, a list of the trains seen that week.  It was supposed to be a ‘family holiday’ but I think Dad had one eye looking out the window for the five days.

So here goes... it’s a bit Rain Man to just blog a list of trains from 45 years ago, so I'll just present the first weekend.  The list strikes me for the number of trains (40 in 9 hours on Saturday alone), plus the amount of steam still running on the line.  I’ll throw a few photos from the trip (at least I think they were) to spice things up… 

Friday arrived 5:30pm

5:30pm 40 class on air conditioned passenger set to Sydney

6:10pm 44 with FOs to Gosford

6:40pm 38 on a down Newcastle Express

6:45pm 4513 light engine to Gosford

7:05pm 60 class on goods to Newcastle

7:15pm 2 car diesel set, plus van to Gosford

7:30pm 60 class on a southbound goods

7:36pm 40 class with 9 heavies (passenger cars) to Newcastle

8:00pm Two 2 car diesels to Newcastle

8:15pm Double 44s on the down Brisbane Limited Express

8:25pm 44 on a south goods

8:45pm 44 on Brisbane Express to Brisbane – 3 LLVs, 7 heavies, 2 vans

9:00pm 44 on a southbound goods

9:10pm 43 class on a Mail headed north

9:15pm 44 on a northbound goods

9:20pm 44 and a 45 on a northbound goods

9:27pm 60 class light engine to Gosford

9:37pm 2 car diesel and van to Newcastle

9:50pm 48 on a southbound goods

10:10pm 44 on a north bound goods

10:15pm 38 class on a southbound goods

10:17pm Double 44s on a northbound goods

10:21pm 45 class on a goods to  Sydney

1:30pm 45/45/44 on a goods to Sydney. 


6:20am 59 class on a south bound goods

6:25am 6023 and 6002 on a goods to Broadmeadow, crossed the up Brisbane Express

6:35am 6008 on a northbound goods

6:40am 2 car diesel to Gosford

7:05am 3820 on a passenger to Newcastle – 10 cars

7:15am 4016 on a northbound goods

7:40am 3822 on an up Newcastle Express

8:00am 2 car diesel to Gosford

8:30am 44 and a 45 on a northbound goods

8:40am 2 car diesel to Newcastle

9:20am Double 44s on a southbound goods

9:25am Northern Tablelands Express – 7 car DEB set

9:40am 44 on the North Coast Daylight

9:40am 4441 and 4428 on a southbound goods

10:05am 2 car diesel set to Newcastle

10:35am 6022 on a goods to Broadmeadow

10:40am 2 car diesel set to Gosford

10:55am Two 2 car diesel to Newcastle

11:15am 44 on a down Flyer to Newcastle

11:30am to 12:30pm 5901 shunting the down pickup to Newcastle

11:55am 4415 on southbound goods

Noon 4515 and 4301 on southbound goods

12:45pm 6029 on southbound goods

1:00pm 2 car diesel to Gosford

1:15pm 4495 up interstate goods

1:20pm 48121 and 48122 on northbound goods

1:30pm 4417 and 4472 on southbound goods

<took a break from train hunting for a few hours, obviously>

5:20pm 44 on a goods to Newcastle

5:35pm 4002 on the up North Coast Daylight

5:50pm 4016 on up Newcastle Flyer

6:40pm 2 car diesel and van to Newcastle

6:55pm 45 and a 40 to Gosford (train unknown)

7:05pm 60 class on southbound goods

7:45pm 40 class on down Flyer

8:00pm 60 class on southbound goods

8:15pm Double 44s on the down Brisbane Limited Express

8:20pm 60 class on anther southbound goods

8:25pm 44 on a south goods

8:35pm 44 on Brisbane Express

8:40pm 44 on a southbound goods

8:55pm 4305 on a southbound goods

9:00pm 60 class on a goods to Broadmeadow

9:02pm 44 and a 45 light engine southbound 


7:50am 4010 on an up passenger

8:20am 4493 on an up Flyer

9:00am 4303 on a southbound goods

9:15am 44 and a 45 on a goods to Newcastle

<dragged away until nightfall >

7:15pm 43 and a 45 on a northbound goods

7:40pm Three 2 car diesels to Gosford (balancing?)

7:55pm 40 class on a Newcastle passenger

8:05pm 44 class on a Sydney bound passenger

8:15pm Double 44s on the down Brisbane Limited Express

8:50pm 44 on a passenger to Newcastle crossed by a 44 on a southbound goods

9:10pm 40 class on a Newcastle passenger

9:25pm 44 on a goods to Newcastle

9:35pm 48 class on a goods to Sydney

9:50pm 44 class on a goods to Sydney

Now for the photos... I think this 5901 on the Saturday pickup.

This is a photo taken later in the week - of 3813 returning to Gosford light engine. The photo was taken from the driveway of the place we were staying. Any trees between the house and the line may have been pruned by this time.

And here is a shot of a 43 going away on a northbound goods.  In the consist there appears what looks like a steam loco boiler...

I had better explain the colour versus black & white snaps - like many families we borrowed the 'family camera' from my grandparents which usually had colour slide film in it.  The Hanimex Instamatic (loaded with much cheaper Ilford black & white print film) did all the less important stuff - like family photos and diesels!

I am going off to type up the rest of the list - lots of 44s, 45s, 38s and Garratts. 

Ciao for now!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Comet

This is the 100th post for this blog, which is a bit of a milepost for me starting and sticking to the job. Gratifyingly, I seem to be rapidly approaching the 50,000 pageviews for the blog too (and not all of them are mine!).

Anyway, today is significant for greater reasons.  Twenty five years ago today (2 November 1989) the Silver City Comet ran its last regular revenue service, having commenced as Australia's first air-conditioned passenger train just over 52 years prior to then. 

While the Comet did a few years' service between Sydney and Newcastle, it spent most of its service life plying western lines - from Orange to Broken Hill and to Dubbo. And it is in this service that one of our first photographs of the Comet was taken in the mid-1970s.

I always thought that the previous photograph was at Orange, but am not so sure these days.  The large building in the background looks a bit like the Bathurst gasworks.

No doubt about this next one being in Orange - just out of it actually, on its way to Dubbo in 1977.

And when the Comet made it to Dubbo, it was parked opposite the station when I snapped it in December 1979.

The Comet's spiritual home will always be Broken Hill. Keen eyes will pick the tuscan EHO at the rear of the train.

For the greater part of its period of operation the Comet ran in a distinctive silver livery with blue lining.  In the 1950s it scored a tuscan and russet livery, which was replaced by a complete tuscan scheme.  The last non-silver iteration was the candy scheme, which was rather less than flattering.  Here is a 'Hill' bound service, in the middle of nowhere.

My last trip on the Comet was in June 1988, which required a 4:30am start in the Broken Hill.  Taken from the Comet as it stood at Parkes station, here is a view of the Comet depot/graveyard.

And shortly after we hopped off at Orange, the Comet was snapped basking in the late afternoon sun.

Appropriately these days the class leader may be found well cared for in Broken Hill.

I have a lot of fine memories of the Comet but none more than the breakfasts served in its spartan dining car. While quality was almost absent, devouring four slices of white toast completely submerged in baked beans at 100kph as the Comet raced towards the sun at dawn takes some beating.  Especially as when one looked out of the window, emus and 'roos could be seen taking flight from the railway right of way.

Ciao for now!