SCT G Class Sold
Interesting news during July/August was the potential sale of the nine JT26C G Class locomotives owned by Specialised Container Transport. Purchased from Pacific National in early 2007, and overhauled at Newport before being released to service in late 2007, the nine G Class (comprised of units G511-G515, G521, G532, G533 and G535) initially took over from PN “hook and pull” operation on SCT services.
With the introduction of 15 new Downer EDI built GT46C-ACe SCT Class in early 2008, the nine G Class were rendered surplus, and were then hired out to other operators. Initially the units were hired to QRNational, ARG and El Zorro, however with the introduction of the LDP Class in 2009, QRNational returned the G Class from hire, with some units joining those G Class already in service with El Zorro.
Now, in 2009 it would appear that at least a number of the class have been sold again. G513 and G514 have recently seen use on Southern Shorthaul Railroad infrastructure and works trains in the Sydney area, (although G514 was subsequently transferred to Bradken Workshops at Braemar for repainting into Southern Shorthaul Railroad colours in September).
There is still speculation on the owners of the remaining class members, although early information would suggest that CFCLA and Pacific National are both interested in the remaining locomotives.
Shell Cancels Fuel Services
In a rather controversial move, Shell has ended their contract with Pacific National for the haulage of fuel from their refinery at Sandown (in western Sydney), favouring the replacement of these trains with B-double trucks. Currently Pacific National rails fuel from the Shell refinery at Sandown to fuel deports at Canberra (twice a week), Dubbo (once a week), West Tamworth (once a week) and Bomen (when required). Shell cites a lack of cost efficiency in their decision to cancel services, stating that the fuel trains are too expensive when compared to road transport.
Regular fuel services will end in November, with sporadic services “as required” to continue until early 2010, at which point all services will have ceased to be replaced by road haulage.
Final Working on Cowra to Demondrille Line
The final train on the Cowra to Demondrille line ran on August 30th, consisting of Lachlan Valley Railway owned 4701, 4204 and 4716 hauling FHG, RBS and FS cars. As of September 1, the line would have “services suspended” by ARTC. This has resulted in the LVR being “trapped” in their depot at Cowra, and with no active railway line to use; they have had to cancel a number of private and public tours.
G-Set Tangara Refurbishment
The continued introduction of CityRails new Outer Suburban Cars (OSCAR) trains has allowed most of the G-Set Tangara fleet to cascade from interurban working to suburban working. For example, all of the peak hour Central Coast trains that run via the North Shore line are now operated by OSCAR trains (with the exception of the occasional failure of an OSCAR set which may necessitate the use of a G-Set if no other OSCAR trains are available).
With the release of G-Sets into suburban service, the sets have begun to cycle through United Goninan’s MainTrain facility at Auburn for an interior refurbishment. While not a major overhaul, a number of upgrades are being made to make the sets better suited to suburban use. The toilet at the number two end of the ONL series cars is replaced with the normal vestibule area seating, and the passenger handrails are being replaced with those seen in the OSCAR and Millennium trains. These new handrails (like those on the H and M sets respectively) are yellow, which assists visually impaired passengers. Additionally, the “O” and “L” are being dropped from the carriage numbers, although the carriages retain the same number they were built with. Finally, the set is re-targeted from a “G” Set to a “T100” set. The first G-Set to go through the process was Mortdale based G4, which is now renumbered to T104 and was returned to service on August 10.
Importantly, at this stage the original seats are being retained in the carriages, as are the luggage racks. T104 has been seen operating suburban trains in both Sector 1 (Illawarra Line) and Sector 2 (South/Inner West /Bankstown/East Hills Lines).