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.

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The Day Joy Came To Town

Thursday, June 28 was just another cold, miserable winters day for Sydneysiders – until it was turned upside down and topsy-turvy when the Cadbury Joyville Express steamed into platforms at Central, Redfern and Sydenham stations. As soon as the train had stopped, the doors of the carriages were flung open and out marched the Joyville workers, keen to spread joy (in the form of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate) around to everyone. Within minutes of the trains arrival, the whistle was sounded and the train was off again, steaming off into the distance, leaving only the smell of coal smoke and the taste of chocolate as proof it was ever there to begin with. Continue reading “The Day Joy Came To Town”

The Sydney Great Train Weekend

The Sydney Great Train Weekend is held on the Queens Birthday long weekend. The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM) bring a number of heritage exhibits from Thirlmere to Sydney’s Central Station, where they are put on display for the general public to enjoy. The Powerhouse Museum provides steam locomotive 3265 for the display, which spends the weekend in light steam alongside the platform for people to climb into the cab and see a real, live steam locomotive. In a similar vein, 4001 and 4490 are at the other end of the platform, to allow people to examine the first mainline diesel locomotive in NSW. As well as the heritage items, RailCorp provides a CountryLink Xplorer and XPT set for people to inspect. As has been mentioned in previous years, this is an excellent opportunity to show people the new Waratah train, although this opportunity has never been capitalised on.

Not content with static displays alone, The NSWRTM also provides a steam train ride through the suburbs, with 3642 and 3526. The train runs between Central and Clyde over the course of the weekend, delighting young and old alike with a short, but pleasurable steam experience. Continue reading “The Sydney Great Train Weekend”

Steamfest 2012 In 39 Frames

April is traditionally a good month for enthusiasts in NSW, as it is the month when everyone stops and converges on The Hunter Valley for the annual Maitland Steamfest celebrations. April 2012 would be no different, with Steamfest falling on the last weekend of the month. Typically the empty cars are worked north by a pair or trio of vintage diesel locomotives from Thirlmere (4001, 4306 and 4490 did the honours this year), with the steam locomotives running north hauling their water gins and the staff accommodation (sleeping and dining carriages, as well as a power van to run them).

With 3801, 3830 and 5917 still out of service for overhauls, 3237 occupied operating North Coast shuttle trips and the two SMR 10 Class (10 and 18) out of service with mechanical problems, it all fell on the shoulders of 3265 (owned by the Powerhouse Museum), 3526 and 3642 to carry the flag, and carry it they did! This is the story of my Steamfest 2012. The full gallery can be found here, for those who just want to see the pictures.

Friday, April 27 (Day Zero)

Every good story needs a prologue to set the scene. I was lucky enough to find myself rostered off on both the Saturday and the Sunday, and with no early start on the following Monday, it was time to make some last minute plans to make what is now an annual pilgrimage north. Obviously accommodation in Maitland would be at a premium, so no attempt was made to negotiate the variety of hotels, motels and pubs in that general area. Instead, accommodation was found in the Newcastle Travelodge Hotel (located in Wickham, only a five minute walk from the railway station). This was especially suitable, as a group of friends were staying in the nearby Hotel Ibis.

With a bed sorted, the only thing left to do was to figure out how to get up there. After perusing some timetables and crunching some numbers, I found that I could catch the Casino-bound XPT service to Broadmeadow, and change for a CityRail train to Wickham. With a ticket booked from Hornsby at 0751, the only challenge left was getting to Hornsby in time. Checking the CityRail website, it was to my dismay that I found out there would be trackwork on the North Shore Line, with buses replacing trains. Fearful that a late arrival at Hornsby would mean missing the XPT, I instead set the alarm stupidly early (for a Saturday) and resolved to allow plenty of time.

Continue reading “Steamfest 2012 In 39 Frames”