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).

FL220

CM3301

CM3301

With thanks to Richard Whitford for his assistance.

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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”

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”

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”

News to Me: 44209 Breaks Cover & IRA Sold To Qube

June 2012 is already shaping up to be an interesting month – firstly the Premier of NSW announces a day return service between Bathurst and Sydney, CFCLA recommissions lease unit 44209 on a series of corporate trains and Qube announces a takeover of Independent Railways of Australia.

44209 was previously painted in the R&H Transport scheme of red and white. The unit had seen service with Patrick Portlink, P&O Trans Australia and El Zorro in the twelve months before it’s withdrawl. The unit suffered a seized traction motor while in use on El Zorro Victorian grain trains in late 2011, and was eventually towed to Goulburn for repair work. While at Goulburn, the locomotive was repainted into the CFCLA livery, although it remained on transfer bogies while work was undertaken to the traction motors. One can only wonder if it will join stable-mate 44208 on hire to Qube, or if the unit will return to El Zorro (or perhaps another operator entirely).

For more photos of the CFCLA charter, click here.

Qube Logistics also announced the takeover of Macarthur Intermodal Shipping Terminal Pty Ltd (MIST), which owns and operates Independent Railways of Australia (IRA) for container trains between Minto (where the MIST freight terminal is located) and Cooks River/Port Botany, as well as regional rail services between Cooks River and Narrabri, Dubbo and Bathurst. This is potentially damning news for IRA’s fleet of 44 Class locomotives, most of which are out of service at any given time due to mechanical problems, brought on by their age and a lack of appropriate spare parts. This news is also potentially worrying for fans of the operators imported Danish “MZIII” 14 Class locomotives, which have also been plagued with failures in recent months. It may be that Qube (who operate their own 44 Class, ex CFCLA rental units 4471 and 4477) use IRA’s 44 Class as a source of spare parts, and set aside the 14 Class indefinitely.

Stop Press: New CFCLA Locos at Sydney Terminal

CFCL Australia ran a special train on Thursday, February 2nd to celebrate the delivery of their new CF Class locomotives from Broadmeadow to Sydney Terminal, hauled by CF4405 “Beldale Ball” and CF4406 “Kiwi”. The class are of the General Electric C44aci model, capable of producing over 4000hp. Similar to a long line of locomotives before them (92 Class, 6000 Class, XRN Class and the CEY Class), the locomotives have been manufactured by UGL (formerly United Goninan), and are destined  for lease service (initially) with Pacific National. To celebrate their delivery, CFCL Australia arranged a special train for their staff, comprising two privately owned carriages from Canberra, and their own crew car (CDAY 1x). The train was hauled from Sydney to Broadmeadow by ARHS ACT owned 4403, where the two CF Class were attached for the run down to Sydney.

Upon arriving at Sydney Terminal, the two CF Class were cut off from the train to await their path north to return to Broadmeadow, while 4403 departed southbound with the cars. The CF’s remained on the platform for approximatly forty minutes, allowing plenty of time for official (and unofficial) photographs to be taken.

Although it was a bit of a juggle getting home from work to change and grab the camera and tripod, it was worth the effort. The first two photos were handheld, but due to the rapidly diminishing light and the ever present rain, I decided to avoid using high ISO settings and just deal with the tripod. Shooting mostly at f13, the results were certainly worth the effort, I feel.

As usual, click on the photos to view them on Flickr, where they can be viewed at a larger size.

I am certainly looking forward to photographing these handsome beasts in lease service, even if it is just on coal traffic! I imagine, should they prove successful, CFCLA will have little hesitation to order more, as they will no doubt be in high demand by companies looking for modern motive power without investing the initial capital!

Looking Forward

I racked my brains on what to put in an “end of year” article this week. Was it worth discussing the different companies that have gained and lost contracts over the year? Perhaps a homage to some of the greatest lash-ups of the year? Even something as simple as a year in review, discussing what has happened in the industry. Perhaps that is still to come. Rather, it is a time to look forward, to what the new year will bring.

July 2012 will see the start of the exceptionally unpopular Carbon Tax. This tax should have the effect of rewarding energy efficient, environmentally friendly transport options for freight across the country. With exemptions for heavy road vehicles until 2014/15, and an overall exemption from petrol in the scheme, rail will experience increased costs while their main competition (road transport) will not. With expected increases in the cost of the electricity production used by suburban electric trains, this will have the effect of increased ticket prices, pushing people away from public transport and back into their polluting motor vehicles. With new plans proposed for the introduction of B-triples on the state’s major highways, and combined with a price on carbon, it is expected that rail will suffer. The main advantage that rail has, is that a lot of the freight currently moved by rail is bulk coal or mineral freight, which is simply uneconomical to move in large quantities by truck.

Continuing neglect to grain branch line infrastructure will have the direct effect of forcing more grain into trucks for farmers to get their crops to port. GrainCorp have recently been given approval to increase the limit of grain that can be delivered to Port Kembla Inner Harbour by truck from 200,000 tonnes per annum to 500,000 tonnes. This has raised questions by local residents on noise issues, as well as the effect the extra truck movements will have on the roads in the area. Companies wishing to move grain by rail are hampered by dated and dilapidated infrastructure, as well as a shortage of appropriate rolling stock. GrainCorp currently contracts Pacific National to haul their trains to port, with Grainflow (formerly AWB Limited) contracting their haulage to El Zorro. Additionally, Glencore Grain currently has a contract with QRNational to move grain to port, with plans for a second rake to assist in the future.

John Holland are poised to take control of the operation and maintenance of the NSW Country Regional Network from January 2012. The contract passed from ARTC to John Holland earlier this year, with ARTC to retain control of the defined Interstate Rail Network, as well as the NSW Hunter Valley network. The network control centre will be located in Broadmeadow.

Further new motive power is on the way, a few hints of this have been seen in late 2011. From the tried and tested GT46C-ACe model currently produced by Downer Rail and the Cv43aci and C44aci models being produced by UGL Limited to new models from China and the USA, there is plenty to be on the lookout for in 2011.

Centennial Coal, continuing the recent trend of coal companies purchasing their own locomotives and rolling stock, have ordered  seven C44aci “CEY Class” locomotives from UGL Limited, due to be delivered from mid December 2011 into early 2012. These locomotives will be painted in a green and yellow variation on the Southern Shorthaul Railroad scheme, as it is SSR who are contracted to haul coal from a number of Centennials Northern and Western mines, specifically Newstan (with additional coal trucked in from Awaba), Clarence, Airly, Charbon and Springvale (loaded at Lidsdale). Given that SSR currently use a mixture of owned and leased motive power on these services, this will free up locomotives to be better utilised in other aspects of the business, especially the older locomotives not suited to mainline coal haulage, such as the B, S and GM classes.

CFCL Australia also have a contract for new rolling stock with UGL Limited, with an order for six C44aci units under construction at the time of writing. These units are destined for use in Hunter Valley coal operations, allowing CFCL Australia to enter what should prove to be a very lucrative market.

While QRNational have received their order for their 5020 class, QRNational plans to modernise their coal fleet on the North Coast with the introduction of two regauged 2800 class. Up until recently, the motive power used on the Duralie to Stratford coal shuttle has been a 6000 Class on one end of the train, with locomotives on the other end of the train alternating between 2204 (formerly allocated to ARG) and various members of the 421 and 423 class. Since the start of December, 2204 has been forwarded to Melbourne, with 6011 the only 6000 class remaining in coal duties. 2819 had originally been trialled by QRNational on standard gauge interstate intermodal duties, however this locomotive was reclassified PA2819, and returned to narrow gauge work in Western Australia with ARG.

Qube have accepted the first two deliveries of their new “1100 Class” from NREC – 1101 and 1103 have recently begun trials between Sydney and Newcastle. It is expected that these new locomotives will continue to reduce demand for leased motive power from CFCLA and Engenco, with a total of 8 expected.

SCT are expecting delivery of their new “Pandaroo” locomotives from Ziyang, China. These units are destined for SCT’s new ore contract in South Australia, and are designated the CSR Class (likely named after the manufacturer). SCT’s locomotive fleet is currently stretched very thin, with SCT014 out for repairs with accident damage. A number of locomotives have been leased from Engenco, with C501 expected to go on hire to SCT from SRHC in early 2011 to assist with banking trains through the Adelaide Hills.

In addition to being the recipient of seven new locomotives from UGL Limited for use on their coal contract with Centennial, SSR have indicated an expansion of their business into the locomotive hire market. Plans have emerged relating to the construction of the BRM Class, a new build 3000hp locomotive similar to the XR and VL Class locomotives owned by PN and CFCLA respectively. These locomotives will be constructed at SSR’s Bendigo Railway Workshops.

Finally, while not “new” motive power as such, Pacific National seems set to introduce some variety to their export grain trains (typically operated by pairs of 81 class, occasionally assisted by members of the BL, G, X, 48 or L Classes), with news that the DL, BL and C Class locomotives currently allocated to PN’s Southern Coal division are to be reallocated to grain haulage. Two C Class are already in Moss Vale and Cootamundra for crew training purposes, with additional 82 class expected to be displaced from Hunter Valley operations to replace them on Southern Coal.

1103 at Cowan