Saturday, July 25, 2015

Taking the MEX to Mexico

On 2 August 1986 the railway authorities decided to amalgamate the two premier named trains on the east coast into a single service between Sydney and Melbourne. Instead of continuing with either name, the Southern Aurora or the Spirit of Progress, they decided to resuscitate an even earlier name, and so the Melbourne Express was reborn. 

It even got a nickname or sorts, the MEX. No doubt that encouraged patronage.  At least you could say you could take the Mex to Mexico, so I did. Almost no-one saw the pun, or appreciated it.

It was an inglorious attempt to stave off the inevitable, rather than to invest and compete.  And the inevitable arrived after just seven years, in the form of an XPT service.

I managed to get a fair few photos of the train locos resting adjacent to platform 1 at Sydney Terminal, and I also scored quite a few rides on the train thanks to my employer (who was always willing to pay for a cheaper option than flying). So here are a few...

Here is the quintessential Mex horsepower - a single candy 81.  On 6 June 1993 it was 8166's turn.

If it wasn't an 81, it was an 81 in another guise.  Here is G519 at Spencer Street Station on 21 October 1992 after it had hauled me to the southern capital.

This is the view that I walked past a 1,000 times and photographed but once. G517 (you are going to have to trust me on this) at the front of the Melbourne Express on 16 September 1993.

When the decision to replace the loco-hauled trains with XPT services was announced I got a bit more serious about photographing the Mex. Even managed two or three times a week! Here's 8177 on 16 November 1993.

And here is 8175 on the third-last Mex.

And now, for the final service... on the evening of 20 November 1993 we ducked across to Tahmoor (just south of Picton).  Fittingly a very big train was hauled by a G and an 81. Not happy snap, but a video.

And then is was all over.  I will get around to doing the Mex's sister train, the Sydney Express, eventually.

Ciao for now!

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