June/July 2009 News

First A-Set Arrives into Newcastle

The new PPP cars are a step closer to being in service this month, as the 4-car trial set was unloaded from a ship at Port Waratah on July 29. The revenue service A-Set trains will be fixed 8-car sets, instead of the usual pair of 4-car sets that have been the norm with rolling stock orders in recent years. The 4-car test train will be used to run extensive testing, both on a special test track at EDI Cardiff, and also around the Cityrail network, testing anything from the ride quality to their performance under peak hour loads. The extensive testing is to prevent another Millennium Train debacle, as seen after their introduction in 2000, which saw them withdrawn from service until 2004.

When the test train was unloaded onto the wharf, NSW Transport Minister David Campbell announced that the 626 next generation carriages would carry the name “Waratah”. The Waratah trains are to be introduced onto the CityRail network from 2010 to 2013, replacing the R/S/L Set fleet, which was introduced to the network from 1972.

2009 CityRail Timetable Released

From October 11, a new CityRail timetable will come into effect on all lines. The most notable change has been on the Northern Line, which previously ran from Hornsby to the City via Strathfield. With the opening of the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link (ECRL) earlier this year, the Northern Line will now run from Hornsby to Epping, then to Chatswood and on to the City, before continuing back to Epping via Strathfield.

Western, South and East Hills line commuters will benefit from additional peak hour services to relieve congestion on these lines. Additionally, new services will be introduced in the period following the morning peak hour, to assist passengers on Western, Northern, South and North Shore lines.

With the continued introduction of more Outer Suburban Cars, more Tangara trains are freed up for suburban running, most notably on the peak hour Central Coast and Wollongong/Port Kembla services, which then allows more 6-car trains to be built up into 8-car trains, to ease loading on popular peak and off peak train services.

G30 stands at Macquarie University during ECRL Crush Load testing for the Tangara trains. 14/6/09
G30 stands at Macquarie University during ECRL Crush Load testing for the Tangara trains. 14/6/09

The Bankstown Line is also set to benefit, with the return to a 15-minute frequency on the weekend (previously passengers on this line had a half hourly service to/from the city on weekends).

ECRL Crush Load Testing

On the 14th of June, Tangara set G30 was involved in crush load testing on the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link. A week later, T77 was also involved in similar testing, with an 8-car K-Set undergoing a different trial a week after T77 went through the link.

G30 first ran from Hornsby to Epping, then to Chatswood through the ECRL, and then ran back to Epping via North Sydney, Central and Strathfield. After the crew changed ends at Epping, the set then ran back to Chatswood via Strathfield and Central, to run through the link again to Epping and back up to Hornsby. The train was running with a full load of “passengers”, simulated by loaded water drums to the same level that can be expected when the train is operating at peak-hour crush load.

This testing was the latest in a series of tests involving the Tangara trains running on the ECRL line. Judging from the new timetable, Tangara trains will not be used on Northern Line services (all of which will run through the new link), although they are (along with the V-Set Interurban trains) permitted to work non-stop through the link under emergency conditions.

The main issue with Tangara trains is their weight – the traction motors were prone to overheating on their first runs through the link during the initial testing undertaken after the link was completed.

K63 stands at North Ryde Station undergoing noise testing for K-Set trains on the ECRL. 27/6/09
K63 stands at North Ryde Station undergoing noise testing for K-Set trains on the ECRL. 27/6/09

On the 27th of June, K-Set K85 and K63 were sent on a number of tests through the ECRL, although not for crush load testing (the “silver set” trains can operate normally through the link in this regard). Instead, the K-Sets were present to test the noise levels for passengers and crew travelling through the tunnels.

These tests proved to be successful, and when the link is fully integrated in the 2009 timetable (see above); the Northern Line will be run by K-Set and OSCAR trains only. Incidentally, this will make it the first CityRail line to be run exclusively by air conditioned trains.

3265 In Steam Again

In news that has dominated the rail preservation scene in NSW, P Class 3265 is the second P Class to return to steam, undergoing a number of steaming trials in July. Separate trials were undertaken to Penrith and Springwood/Valley Heights, with a pair of trials to and from Gosford undertaken in mid July.

Once trials of the locomotives restoration are complete, the locomotive will be painted at Chullora Workshops (incidentally, the same location that 3801 will be receiving her overhaul). The Powerhouse Museum, who owns and operates the locomotive have opted for the locomotive to receive her “Victoria Maroon” colour scheme, which was worn by 3265 when involved in operating the Newcastle Flyer (then known as the “Newcastle Express”), around 1933. As well as the colour scheme, 3265 has had her “Hunter” nameplates returned to her (these nameplates had been removed and given to 3608 when the 36 class took over from the 32 class on Newcastle Express services).

3265 undergoing the first of her steam trails on the mainline, seen here at Sydney Terminal.
3265 undergoing the first of her steam trails on the mainline, seen here at Sydney Terminal.

3265 is a testament to the skill and dedication of all those involved in her restoration.

92 Class/LDP Class Load Trials

On June 27, Pacific National undertook a number of trials with their new 92 Class locomotives (built by United Goninans), as well as with a trio of LDP Class units (built by Downer EDI), to determine the locomotives suitability for use on coal trains with Southern Coal (currently the 92 Class are limited to operations in The Hunter Valley).

The initial testing for the 92 Class was not successful, with the locomotives reduced to walking pace when lifting a full load of coal up Cowan Bank. The LDP Class performed marginally better, lifting the same load at a little under 20km/h.

The day following the test saw the trio of 92 Class (9211, 9213 and 9208) joined by 8125 at Enfield for the run down into Wollongong. The 81 class had been added to the train to avoid any slow running on the steep grades through Como and Jannali.

XR/X/G Class to NSW

Shortly after arriving from Victoria, XR559 is sandwiched between a pair of 81 Class at Cootamundra. 8/6/09
Shortly after arriving from Victoria, XR559 is sandwiched between a pair of 81 Class at Cootamundra. 8/6/09

In a continuation of the trend to move working, surplus rolling stock from Victoria to New South Wales to assist with the movement of coal and grain (among other commodities), Pacific National transferred a number of standard gauge G, X and XR class to NSW for grain working.

A number of X Class units are already employed by PN Rural and Bulk to move fuel to various depots around the state, although a couple of X Class have been sighted working domestic and export grain trains. XR555 and XR559 have been transferred to NSW to assist with the movement of domestic and export grain.

A number of G Class are already in service with the Northern Coal fleet, with word that other G Class will follow from Victoria to assist with the grain haulage task in the North West of the state.

P&O Trans Australia Expansion

Following the transfer of the contract to move export containers from Yennora to Port Botany from Interail (owned by QRNational) to P&O Trans Australia, and the purchase of 4477 and 4471 from CFCLA, POTA underwent further expansion in July, successfully winning the contract for the movement of containers from Carrington to Port Botany, resulting in the contract passing from Southern & Silverton (owned by Coote Industrial) to POTA.

CLF1 and 4477 on T281 Botany to Yennora freight head into Enfield before continuing on to Yennora
CLF1 and 4477 on T281 Botany to Yennora freight head into Enfield before continuing on to Yennora. 3/7/09.

To assist with their motive power requirements, POTA hired CLF1, CLP11 and CLP13 (the latter two units in the corporate QRNational scheme) from Interail. By the end of July, both CLP Class units had been returned ex hire, although GM12 class locomotives GM22 and GM27 are now on lease from CFCLA, following the end of their lease to Patricks Portlink (who originally used both units on the Yennora container shuttle in 2008). POTA have also hired 44204, which has been sighted on a number of POTA trains in late July.

Triple Headed Steam to Moss Vale

July 4th proved to be a very exciting day to be in Moss Vale (located in the NSW Southern Highlands region), with the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum running a triple headed steam special from Sydney to Moss Vale and return, running via Wollongong.

The train departed Sydney Terminal behind NN/35 Class locomotive 3526, 36 Class “Pig” 3642 and 38 Class 3830 (the latter locomotive being in the custody of The Powerhouse Museum), with 4520 and 4490 assisting from the rear. Having stormed the Illawarra Escarpment from Wollongong to Moss Vale, the train arrived at Moss Vale to be serviced. Upon arrival in Moss Vale, 3526 and the two diesels returned to Thirlmere light engine, leaving the two Pacifics to return to Central alone.

In a surprise move, the mighty 38 was put into the lead for the run home, and the two locomotives provided some truly dramatic scenes in the chill afternoon air – scenes taken straight from a historical photo or video, perhaps.

3830 and 3642 storm out of the loop at Calwalla, headed for Robertson. 4/7/09
3830 and 3642 storm out of the loop at Calwalla, headed for Robertson. 4/7/09
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