GM22 leads four other streamliners through Cowan with M820. This train experienced delays further north, and would continue to be delayed before it could reach Sydney (see below).

On a day in which many people filled The Gabba in Brisbane to watch Day 2 of The Ashes series, passengers and train crew on the Central Coast line (known as “The Short North” to railfans and railwaymen alike) were having a less than exciting day. Problems seemed to come thick and fast disrupting both NSW TrainLink passenger services and freight trains in both directions. Myself and a handful of other enthusiasts gathered at Cowan Station to bear witness to the proceedings.

The troubles began at Wickham early in the morning when a motorist damaged level crossing equipment at Wickham (Newcastle). Train services were suspended in both directions between Broadmeadow and Newcastle and buses were called in to replace (and later to supplement) train services. This then had a flow on delay to freight services heading south from Broadmeadow yard, as they were unable to leave on their paths – forced to wait in the yard for the late running passenger services to pass, to permit the slower freighters to follow. Continue reading “Cowan”

CM3301 “Red Handed” Delivered

CFCL Australia have accepted the first delivery of their new “CM Class” locomotives from MotivePower Inc. The first of the class, CM3301 “Red Handed” was delivered by FL220 to Goulburn on July 27th, 2013, having been unloaded at Port Kembla the day before. Running as train number 9271, FL220 hauled a covered CM3301 and wagon NOGF 5251. The train departed Port Kembla Inner Harbour at 1700, bound for Goulburn via Unanderra and Moss Vale. CM3301 is not the first of CFCLAs locomotives to carry the name “Red Handed”, with this name previously being carried by RL301.

This was not the first interesting train to traverse that line today, with 3642 having hauled a tour train to Robertson earlier in the day. The newest, and one of the oldest locomotives in the state passing through the same town within a matter of hours? Couldn’t plan that better if you tried!

Click on any image below to view a larger size (link opens in a new window).




With thanks to Richard Whitford for his assistance.

The 44 Class – The Original Stalwart

4471 departing Yennora with a Qube Logistics/P&O Trans Australia container trip train to Port Botany.

With the news that Qube Logistics have set aside a number of their 44 Class fleet in Goulburn, it seemed as good a time as any to reflect on the diverse life that the surviving units have had since they were withdrawn from government service.

By 1956, The New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) had made their first tentative steps into dieselisation, having introduced no less than five different classes, each ranging from six to twenty class members. Each class had come from a different manufacturer, and featured different braking systems and non-interchangeable spare parts.

Continue reading “The 44 Class – The Original Stalwart”

“The Jumbos” – The NSWGR 442 Class

44208 powering through Mascot

442 Class – A Story of Survivors

The 442 Class, or “Jumbos” as they are often known, are an excellent example of how former Government owned locomotives that were withdrawn and set aside have found a new lease of life in the brave new world of private rail operators. Many of the surviving class members have seen their fair share of operators come and go, and yet they have survived them all, and the majority will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Introduction & Government Service

The 40-strong 442 Class was introduced as a replacement for the NSW Government Railways fleet of 40 Class locomotives. The 40 Class had originally entered service in 1951, an almost off the shelf American Locomotive Co. (ALCo) design, modified for NSW conditions and loading gauge. By the late 1960s, the 40 Class were beginning to become unreliable and a rebuild of the class to keep them in service would be uneconomical. The concept of trading-in older locomotives to offset the cost of new locomotives was proving to be a popular concept in the United States of America, leading to the New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) signing a tender with A. E. Goodwin Ltd to accept the 40 Class units as trade-ins on twenty new main line diesels. This concept would prove to be too ambitious, with only limited parts (traction motors, compressors, auxiliary generator, eddy current clutch and power take-off) being re-used. Whilst the initial order of twenty was being built, a further twenty were ordered to ensure the entire state could be dieselised, pushing out the last strongholds of steam in NSW.

Continue reading ““The Jumbos” – The NSWGR 442 Class”

An Afternoon at Jung

“Where the heck is that”, I hear you ask! Jung is a township located along the mainline between Melbourne and Adelaide, in Western Victoria. A small town with a population only just nudging 100, it is a farming community, with many acres of crops surrounding the town area. Jung is the highest point in the Wimmera region, the skyline dominated by the disused grain silos, the connection to the mainline long severed. I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours trackside at Jung with a couple of good friends in October of 2012. Although we only saw three trains (3WX2 PN SteelLink, 2PM6 PN superfreighter and 5MA6 extra QRNational freight), we did take great delight in watching the sun set across the impressive concrete silos.

As usual, click on any photo to be taken to Flickr to see a larger size.

Continue reading “An Afternoon at Jung”

Two Seasons In One (Diesel) Day

It seems one can never really predict the weather. More accurately, one can predict the weather, but that’s useless if one doesn’t check the prediction before leaving the house. Thanks to my apathetic attitude towards weather forecasts, I managed to both swelter and freeze almost to death, whilst also getting drenched in torrential rain, all within the space of a few hours. Wait on, back it up a bit, what happened…

A co-worker of mine suggested to me that Sunday would be a good day to visit Trainworks at Thirlmere, as the venerable 4001 would be leading the loop line trains between Thirlmere and Buxton, rather than the more commonplace 2705 (that’s right, we specifically chose a day to visit a train museum when there would be NO operational steam engines to be seen). This was the annual Diesel Day, a celebration of vintage diesel motive power, often underappreciated in the world of preservation, as even historic diesel engines lack the crowd drawing power of steam.

Continue reading “Two Seasons In One (Diesel) Day”

2012 Top Ten

Last year, when I complied and submitted my top ten photos for the year, they all felt somehow right, like each one had earned its place in the list. Everything felt natural, as if “yes, these are the top ten photographs for 2011”. This year couldn’t have been harder. I’m not going to get ahead of myself and say that I had “too many” good photos to choose between them. I’m not conceited. That being said, I’m not going to play the “I can’t find one good photo, let alone ten” card either, because I know I got plenty of good shots this year.

The problem is the curse of knowing too much. That XPT shot at Donnybrook, look at the colours there! That’s a shoe in. A closer look reveals that it’s crooked. The headlight shot from the final ZZR train of the year? Looks like I’ve cut the top of the signal box off slightly. Too much blur here, not enough there. I managed to find something wrong with almost every shot that I suggested – that’s not to say that they are necessarily “bad” shots. Just that I know how they could be better, because I pressed the shutter.

I could go on and on about shots that could be better, but that’s not the point of the exercise. The point is to highlight my favourite ten photos from the year, and provide a bit of back-story to each shot. The year in review will be summed up in a separate blog post. Continue reading “2012 Top Ten”

Rail Scenes Photography

Rarely an event goes by in the railway industry without some enterprising enthusiast capturing it on “film” (or pixels as the case may be). At some point in recent times, the art of train photography has made a transition from just “recording a loco/wagon/colour scheme” to being a standalone expression. It’s not just about capturing “the best steam locomotive”, but it’s about how you capture it. Slowly people are trying out new things and moving past the stereotypical three-quarter sunny roster shot (although these still have their place).

Some railway photographers have earned their spurs as “regular” photographers (either professionally, or more often, photography enthusiasts). Others have gained all of their experience through the rail enthusiast hobby. However, what is a budding photographer to do when faced with a situation they have no experience in – the ever challenging but also very rewarding art of night photography. Previously, unless enthusiasts had access to the skills and the knowledge, it seemed like a very steep learning curve that would frustrate more often than reward.

Thankfully, Rail Scenes Photography (RSP) has seen this as an opportunity, and has begun holding a series of events designed to provide everything a photographer needs to learn about night photography. It’s easy (albeit expensive) to take photography classes, but until now there’s been nothing specifically tailored to railway photography. Thankfully, RSP has come up with an inventive and inexpensive solution.

Their first event was held at Newport Workshops in Melbourne, Victoria on the night of July 28th, 2012. The premise was simple – turn up with a tripod and camera, and the experts on hand will provide the “scenes”, the lighting and the expertise for any level of photographer. Despite having a reasonable experience with night photography (both railway and non-railway related), the event piqued my interest, if only because I would not have to wait for scenes to set themselves up – here was a chance to have steam locomotives parked up in photogenic locations specifically to have their photos taken! Continue reading “Rail Scenes Photography”

Quality Over Quantity – Part Two

Day Two – July 30th

Thanks to a friendly SSR driver, we had learned that B61 would be departing Parkes Yard pre-dawn with a southbound loaded railset (loaded at Bathurst the day prior). Sure enough, when we arrived on a very cold Parkes Station a little after 0500, we found B61 idling away at the head of its train. Their departure would be delayed by L270, 48157 and 48152 (those locomotives sound familiar?) shunting grain wagons within Parkes Yard.

We were more than happy to snap plenty of photos of both L270 and B61. As L270 was shunting, it was almost impossible to get a “normal” shot of the locomotive in the rather pleasing station and yard lighting. In fact, it was only as we were getting in the car to go for a coffee that Todd remarked “oh look, it’s parked next to B61”. I grunted something in reply, conveying the message that the “stupid thing” would likely end up moving as soon as I set up the tripod again. When he went on to mention that the crew had climbed out and walked off, he finished the statement to a dust-cloud outline, as I was already back on the platform setting up. Shot taken, I returned to the car with a rather bemused expression on my face. The first success of the day and the sun wasn’t even up yet! All of the “real” photographers would likely still be in the warmth of their beds – everyone knows that if you can’t get a 3/4 sunny shot, it’s not worth leaving the house for!

Perhaps this success made us over confident. While ordering our coffees, we heard the distinctive sound of a veteran EMD loading up as B61 blasted her way out of town. Convinced that we would easily catch up to the train on the Newell Highway, we collected our drinks and headed south to Daroobalgie (just outside of Forbes). It was there that we set up camp, planning to follow the railset south until it either stopped to cross a northbound train, or started to dump rails. As the sun rose, the shot just got better and better… Continue reading “Quality Over Quantity – Part Two”