It was the ANZAC/Easter 5-day holiday and Steamrail were to make an appearance at Echuca in Mid-North Victoria... so what better way to catch them than by making a loop of it and attempting to see traffic on nearly all lines serving Melbourne.
Google maps, as per usual, allowed me to set a good path and also calculated times not-too-far-off from the real-world equivalents. I wanted to get out to Manor Loop, Gheringhap Loop, Bacchus Marsh (to see the massive horse shoe), Bendigo and then on to Echuca/Moama. I also, on the way back wanted to see the Main South to see what super freighters were loitering around. Chances are I would also intercept the XPT as some point.
The trip started damn-early on Good Friday in an attempt to see traffic on the Melbourne-Adelaide railway line. The first stop was Manor Loop and there was nothing around and no green signals. As it was also 6am, it was still too dark for any good shots. I therefore continued on to Gheringhap and was welcomed by green up signals and then a QR freighter with LDP004 at the lead.
I loitered for a while longer, referencing the Gheringhap Loop Sightings and the ARTC timetables for hope of another train, but nothing came about. Back on the road, I headed towards Bacchus Marsh. As I approached the horse-shoe railway alignment a V/Locity rounded the bend, but the lighting and traffic didn't allow for a photo. I stopped for fuel and breakfast and then proceeded through Gisborne. Here I met the BG rail to Bendigo, but it doesn't happen to be too visible from the road. The single train sighting on the morning saw me push right through to Bendigo and arrive at Echuca earlier than I'd told the motel. I did stop at Elmore along the way and remembered how difficult it was to chase V/Locities.
At around 3pm I headed in to town to check out the sights and was impressed with Echuca's Yard and infrastructure.
After tiring out completely from a huge walk, I grazed on a parmigiana (sorry Victoria, I bought it in NSW) and then slept early. The alarm went off at 3:20AM and I was back at Echuca Station by 4AM.
Not much was happening... so I headed to the level crossing at the entrance to the yard... at around 4:15AM there was a gloomy headlight in the distance. Then the drivers decided no one needed to sleep and let loose with the steam whistle. The consist made its way across the crossing and into the station.
It was then back to bed to be up in time for the first shuttles of the morning. I made it back to the North end of the station in time for the consist to leave but it so happened that the train went in the other direction. Quite a few of us were fooled and it does make you wonder who you can trust when information is so freely available on a whim.
The scenery around town wasn't the best... so I headed out to Strathallan the back way... after taking my poor little MR2 over a nasty dirt road I arrived at a seemingly popular level crossing. I was soon to find out why: The shuttles were terminating not 50 metres further on and the scenery was fantastic.
After this I returned home via the main south to be totally disappointed by track work. The employees around Avenel even went to the effort to trigger the level crossing gates intermittently in order to have a good laugh. I could've been more jovial towards it but it was my bad for not even asking them what was happening around the tracks.
The Diesel Electric Rail Motor Preservation Association of Victoria Inc has just recently gotten their DERM 58 back on the rails. This rail-car was built in January 1930 at Newport Workshops, Victoria under license from Electro Motive Company. The association is now running tours with this vehicle across the Victorian broad gauge and this past Saturday, the 9th of April, saw the unit head from Newport to Pakenham, Pakenham to Bacchus Marsh and then back to Newport via Southern Cross station.
I happened to be in the vicinity at SCS and FSS for a few shots.
Knowing it was heading out to Bacchus Marsh, I headed out to Rockbank to get a shot of it against some great countryside.
They turned it at Bacchus Marsh and then I caught it again on the way back through Rockbank.
The engine sounded quite nice and they had some good speed up when heading in to Rockbank. I can only congratulate their efforts and will enjoy seeing it out on the rails more... their next trip is on May the 7th to Seymour. Check their site for more details.
Right, it has been too long between postings already... over the last two weekends I've been chasing the Steamrail Shuttles around Melbourne. The weather has been dismal, but it has proved a great lesson in shutter speed vs. exposure and dealing with fast adjustments.
Steamrail from Williamstown to Flinders St
Steamrail, after a quiet Christmas, have been running their K Class Steam Locomotives around the suburbs of Melbourne over the last two weekends. The first of these trips was a shuttle for the Williamstown Festival from Williamstown to Flinders Street with no intermediate stops. Although the weather was pitiful in the morning, I still ventured out to see what was around the traps at Newport.
Fortunately SSR had a rail-train at Anzac Sidings which meant there was something to mix into the background. This train, with GM22+S317 on it, had its headlight on the the majority of the morning and I was hoping it would depart. Unfortunately it turns out it had just returned to the sidings.
There was also a good mix of random Metro and V/Line meetings.
I was also lucky enough to see a freighter heading West.
I then returned to the City and got another few shots of the steam engines at Flinders Street Station.
QR/ARG Grain Train transfer from Western Australia to NSW
As luck has it, I had decided to go to Gheringhap Loop on Saturday the 2nd of April to simply check the place out. I had never been before and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Once there, I met a few other onlookers who noted that a special transfer from the West was coming through with some interesting locos on it. I was also informed that I'd just missed a Metro transfer from Ballarat and another BG freight train.
Either way, We first saw a loaded Pacific National grain train pull into the loop and then the WA transfer came through.
So, the photo of the transfer sucks.. right? I fumbled the shutter speed as the train bolted through and decided that I had to therefore get a proper shot. I knew it was on its way into Melbourne, so I jumped back in the car and headed to Spotswood. On the way I caught up with the consist just after Werribee. I was on the highway doing 100km/h and I wasn't exactly losing the train. It would've been doing 95km/h at the best of times.
I made it to Spotswood with around 15minutes to spare.
I then proceeded to Bunbury Street Tunnel. All signals were red and there was not a movement to be seen. I then returned to West Footscray where I met some of the other onlookers again. They were all waiting for the consist but weren't sure where it was. At this point it occurred to me that it was probably going to bypass Melbourne and could be at McIntyre Loop. I was in luck...
At this point, LDP001 had detached and was running around the consist. There was quite a turnout there of fans to see the train and one noted that they were doing a loco swap. This meant there would be another QR loco coming from Dynon to then take the train further north. I got my photos from this location and then headed to the other side of the bridge to get further shots.
LDP002 came storming through with a northbound freighter and an A380 swooped over before the grain train departed.
Finally LDP006 showed up.
The consist approached me and my battery died as I was about to take the final shot in great sunlight. Such is life.
Steamrail from Berwick to Pakenham
Sunday, 3rd of April saw another Steamrail shuttle service all day between Berwick and Pakenham. I had decided to take Metro and started walking to North Melbourne Station at 8am. I grabbed a coffee on the way and heard the steam whistles at around 8:25am passing the city... too bad, I wouldn't've minded being in front of them. I arrived at Flinders St only to realise that the next Pakenham server wasn't until 9:11am... Off-peak isn't fun.
Fortunately I did get to see something interesting. A ComEng was in the opposite platform and another was right up against the light behind it. I thought the one in the platform was dead, but instead I saw something I didn't realise Melboune/Metro did.
Metro kept announcing that the train wasn't taking passengers... so I don't actually know if they then used that 6-car set, but it was nice to see. It reminded me of Japan where a lot of the services split and join at certain points (fully loaded) with no issues and very little time required.
I jumped on the Frankston train and got off at Caufield... switching to the Pakenham train which got me to Berwick at around 10:30am. I bought my Steamrail ticket and found out the next shuttle wasn't until 11:18am. The station was actually in quite a nice area. The steamer was a little late.
Once on-board... I attempted to photograph some of the features of the carriage I was in... I didn't even take down the carriage number.
We then arrived at Pakenham after a few rough red lights and I checked out K153 in more detail.
And that was that...I then jumped on the Metro back to Melbourne. The V/Line was meant to come first, but it didn't turn up. Supposedly you are allowed to ride V/Line from Pakenham (the only 'suburban' station where you can join an 'up' V/Line service) on your Myki/Metcard. We got to Hawksburn when it passed us... then we caught it at Richmond. No time lost...
Finally I watched a few trains again in the dwindling light through South Kensington waiting for the steamer to return home. I still don't know if my position was on-side with the rulebook... but I was behind the fence.
At that point the lighting was terrible and the noise in the shot is disturbing... but... all in good fun.