Something most enthusiasts do not notice, are some of the interesting movements performed by various operators or control centers over the days and nights. These are not often photographed, or mentioned by a lot of enthusiasts, as they either don’t notice them, or don’t “bother” with them, for whatever reason. While Pacific National, and other operators may perform locomotive transfers, resulting in interesting movements (such as four members of the NR Class to haul five empty steel wagons), it is the Cityrail/Railcorp movements that often go unnoticed, and unphotographed.
Consider the photograph to the right (click on the photo to bring it up full size in a new window/tab). While it may not look unusual, as local trains are often seen alongside interurbans at Morisset, this shot depicts a normally unseen movement. Normally, a local train from Newcastle (the train in the foreground) will arrive into platform one and terminate, before reversing into the yard (the yard is the track that the interurban train is sitting on). Shortly after, a northbound interurban (from Sydney) will pull in on platform two, passengers will embark and disembark, before the interurban continues on it’s limited stops pattern to terminate in Newcastle (stopping Fassifern, Cardiff, Broadmeadow, Hamilton and Newcastle only). At about the same time as all this is happening, a southbound interurban train from Newcastle will arrive into platform one, before continuing on towards Wyong, Gosford and Sydney. After the southbound train has cleared platform one, the 2-car local train will then move back into platform one to take any passengers (either from the northbound urban, or who were already on the platform) to all the intermediate stations between Morisset at Newcastle, following along behind the northbound urban.
However, when a train runs even a few minutes late, it throws everything into disarray, as a southbound Interurban arrives into Hornsby minutes before an all stations train from Hornsby to Central. If the urban is late, it will either get stuck behind the all stations train, or make the all stations train late. This is just one example, it has to cross trains at junctions and get through Sydney Yard, etc.
The photo above was only made possible because the local train from Newcastle was running late, resulting in the urban following along behind it. The northbound train was running on time, and it pulled into platform two while the local was still on platform one. Rather than push the local into the yard to let the southbound train through, the local train stayed on the platform, and the southbound interurban was permitted to creep forward into the yard (if it was to use the main, it would have to be kept back at the accept home signal at the entrance to the yard). This way, as soon as the northbound train had cleared the road ahead, the local could proceed behind it (thus, even though it arrived late, it was able to arrive on time), and as soon as it had cleared the crossovers, the southbound interurban was then able to move quickly into the platform. This saved far more time than if it had sat back at the signal 1.5km away from the station!
Naturally, passengers don’t appreciate the change of procedure and the effort that signalers and controllers will put in to ensure trains are running as close to time as possible – if they had allowed things to proceed as per normal, there would have been two trains running late, as opposed to one.
Another not-often seen movement can be seen in the photo to the left. This type of movement is undertaken every day somewhere on the network, often at night, and is a rail clean – the Interail/QRNational coal train in the photo is moving through the yard at Morisset to clean the points at the northern end of the yard. By having a train run over the points every few days, this keeps them “in use” and stops them falling into disrepair. There are a number of regular examples on the network, most of them in the dead of night. In the photo to the left, I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to see this movement.
There are heaps of examples out there, just waiting to be photographed! Who knows, you could be getting a unique shot of a train in a location it normally wouldn’t be seen!