Trackwork and Diversions

I’ll be honest – July was not the best month for me when it came to photographing trains. Work and social commitments called, and the few outings that were made usually ended with a mostly empty memory card!  Resolving that August would be different, and with the first of August being a Sunday, the opportunity was too good to pass up.

With the line between Liverpool and Granville/Bankstown/Lidcombe closed to trains due to trackwork  between the 30th of July and the 1st of August 2010, all freight trains into and out of Sydney on the Main South Line were forced to divert via Enfield and East Hills. Although closedowns of this nature happen multiple times a year, it is always a good chance to catch various trains on the East Hills Line that do not normally run on this section of track. Normally, the only regular traffic on this line is the passenger services to/from Campbelltown and Revesby via the Airport Line, as well as any through Southern Highlands services. Diverted traffic included the CountryLink trains to Canberra, Griffith and Melbourne, as well as the north/south intermodal and steel trains. As usual, a lot of non-time essential freight trains were cancelled or deferred until Monday, but that didn’t stop the running of QRNational intermodal services 7BM7 and 7MB7.

7MB7 passes Bardwell Park behind LDP009 and LDP005

Despite driving around the backstreets of Turrella, Bardwell Park and Bexley North, no suitable location was found for 7MB7, so the location chosen for 7BM7 would have to work for both trains. Hopefully the locomotives on each train would look different, so as to make the shots a little more interesting!

Arriving at the spot just in time to hear the roar of an XPT engine, we found out that our delay in arriving at the location had cost us a shot of ST23, the southbound Melbourne XPT service. Undeterred, we set up for our planned shot of 7MB7, which arrived a little down on the table at 0900 (it was due to pass Turrella at 0827), passing our hillside location behind LDP009 and LDP005 – both in the QRNational corporate scheme. We did not have much longer to wait before 7BM7 arrived behind LDP001, LDP003 and an unexpected bonus in LDP006 (we were only expecting the first two!). Due to the quad tracks ending at Beverly Hills, it was quite likely that 7BM7 would have to wait for a southbound spark before it would get the road through to Macarthur and Glenlee. Thus, we packed up into the car for a short hop to Beverly Hills for another shot of the train. Despite the second shot being a very “last minute” decision, it carried with it an added bonus – not only were we shooting a freight on the East Hills line, but we could photograph it passing through the construction work associated with the project to quadruple the East Hills Line between Kingsgrove and Revesby.

With no more freight trains forecast to use the line for at least an hour or so, we relocated to western Sydney for a shot at some of the trackwork trains on the “old south”. Trackwork trains are an interesting and unique beast – often boasting some of the most vintage motive power and interesting rolling stock on the network, unless they are sitting in just the right spot, they can be impossible to photograph – as they often don’t move for hours at a time!  Initially, we had mixed luck – we located GM22 and GM10 fairly easily, sitting on the down main between Fairfield and Canley Vale Stations with a ballast cleaner rake (with the tracklaying machine between them and Fairfield Station, as it was being used to lay a new down main between where the GM’s were and the platform at Fairfield). Additionally, 8170 was standing next to the two GM’s with an empty railset. Sadly, the shot was looking straight into the sun!

S317 and GM27 sit at Fairfield with a sleeper train, while trackworkers inspect the up main.

Undeterred, and acting on a tip from the crew of GM22, we moved north to Fairfield Station, where we were told we could expect S317 and GM27 with a sleeper train. Sure enough, they were sitting right at the end of the platform, under the footbridge. While the angle wasn’t perfect from the bridge, a nice angle was obtained from a nearby carpark, looking over the fence with the use of a milk crate “borrowed” from a shop in Bardwell Park earlier that morning.

With word that an IRA ballast train was further north, we moved up to Yennora, to find a ballast train with 4497 on the country end, and ARG-owned 2208 on the city end. 2208 has only recently been hired by Independent Rail for use on container and trackwork trains. We were lucky that the two locos were on a double consist of ballast wagons, which placed 4497 right at a level crossing, and 2208 at the end of the platform at Yennora. After grabbing a couple of shots of 2208 and it’s ballast wagons, it was off to Guildford where 8134 and 8120 were push-pull on another ballast rake. Without an exciting photo opportunity, we pressed on and called it a day  – and it was only 1115! Why push ones luck, when there is a good opportunity to head home and download the photos and even squeeze in a nap before dinner?!?

One could even have enough time before going to bed that night to upload the photos to the internet and chronicle the adventure on some kind of website…

For more photos from the day, visit August, 2010 on Flickr!

With thanks to Chris Walters and Todd Milton for their assistance and company when compiling this article.