That beast of an engine from Canberra was on the move again, this time southbound. It was the June Queen's Birthday long weekend and they were running a 'Winter Safari' tour to Junee and Wagga Wagga.
I wanted to check it out, but didn't feel like covering the 100s of kilometres there and back driving; so I chose to take the trusty XPT once again. The Friday night service would get me to Junee just before 0100 hours. This was ok as I'd arranged with the motel across from the station to stash my room key somewhere accessible. All went well and I slept for the arrival of the train the next morning.
The overland arrived just before our train departed. It was busy shunting the auto-rail off the rear and over to it's dock to put the cars back onto the road. The trip into the night was peaceful enough, although it seemed that getting drunk and walking up and down the corridors all night was to be a good hobby for some locals.
I'd inspected the ARTC timetables and put together the following diagram. There wasn't too much freight in the area, but there was enough to keep one's self entertained. I had initially thought that the steam engine shuttles were from Wagga to Junee and back, but it turned out that (once I actually read the website correctly) that the shuttles were just between Wagga and Bomen. It seems that quite a few others, who came looking for the engine on the platform at Junee during the day, made the same mistake.
Coota Junee Bomen Wagga ST22 CLK 0137 0048 0033 0022 6MB4 PN 0329 0221 0158 0150 6MB7 QN 0539 0405 0340 0332 5BM7 PN 0354 0441 0522 0528 9L03 ARHS 0449 0543 ---- ---- 3PW4 PN 0903 0757 0727 0719 9S05 ARHS ---- 0805 0830 0840 9L06 ARHS ---- ---- 0915 0855 9S07 ARHS ---- ---- 0920 0940 9337N PN 0852 0944 ---- ---- 9L08 ARHS ---- ---- 1015 0955 6WP2 PN 0900 0952 1021 1028 9S09 ARHS ---- ---- 1030 1050 9L10 ARHS ---- ---- 1125 1105 9S11 ARHS ---- ---- 1130 1150 3314N QUBE ---- 1159 ---- ---- 9L12 ARHS ---- ---- 1225 1205 9S13 ARHS ---- ---- 1230 1250 SP41 CLK 1219 1258 ---- ---- 3315N QUBE ---- 1300 ---- ---- ST23 CLK 1251 1327 1346 1354
I'd bought my return ticket from Junee and had considered trying to change it to depart from Wagga instead. Unfortunately there weren't too may transportation options to get to Wagga, so I stayed put in Junee to watch the festivities. In hindsight, I could have actually purchased a ticket on 6029 and travelled south to Wagga in the morning when they left... but meh, I'd no idea.
6029 arrives with assistance
4501 and 4403 lead 6029 into Junee around an hour late. Still under the cover of darkness, the consist made its way into the yard and then detached. All three engines came off the consist to allow 6029 to shunt off and proceed up to the roundhouse. As with most typical gunzels, there were ramblings of mechanical failure and other doom/gloom. I would've assumed that 6029 would've lead into Junee, but then again... it was pitch black and there was no need for spectacle. They would've also needed to keep up with traffic, so having the diesels do all the work makes sense.
The engine stayed in the roundhouse for quite a while... missing the initial slot it was meant to take from Junee to Wagga.
A northbound freight was then given the path and 6029 covered it in steam/smoke as it came through.
Once the path was clear, the consist was shunted into the station and passengers boarded.
It then proceeded off to Wagga, looking great, but requiring quite a bit of help from 4501 on the tail as it climbed the grade out of Junee.
That was it for 6029... the next site was from the window of our southboard daylight XPT. One of its shuttles was to Uranquinty and it was in the loop there as we bolted through.
Freight around Junee
There's always containers stored in the yard... Qube shunt here from Harefield. It seems that they can't fit their entire consists into the roads at Harefield, so they shunt rakes of container trains back and forth to load and unload. They then bring the portions together in Junee yard and take them south to Melbourne.
Junee is also the location of the triangle to Griffith. I lie though, it's no longer a triangle. The branch is only accessible when heading north from the south, so any southbound train wanting to go to Griffith has to head into Junee Yard, run around and then proceed back out again. A grain train did this whilst I was waiting at the station.
A random Aurizon track vehicle then appeared at the crossing, mounted the tracks and then bolted off north.
Finally the Qube service from Harefield arrived to drop off one rake of containers and take another off to load/unload.
Railmotor Societies 721/621
The radar then showed that an unusual vehicle was headed south. Speaking to folks on the platform, it turns out that the Patterson Railmotor Society was running a tour over the long weekend also.
Only one platform is in use at Junee. Whether it be for lack of accessibility, patronage or care, the second platform that would cater to northbound passengers is out of use. This means that, on approach, the northbound XPT needs to cross over to the southbound tracks to reach platform 1. Of course, it can only do this is the road is clear. Funnily enough, the road isn't often clear as the southbound XPT usually crossed the northbound here. It's the half-way point between Melbourne and Sydney.
Due to the track arrangement, the northbound XPT is, more often than not, sent north past the station into the siding north of the level crossing. The southbound XPT then comes through, visits platform 1 and then proceeds to Melbourne. Once clear, the northbound XPT then reverses (well, it's got a cab at either end, so it's not too much hassle) onto the southbound road and accesses the platform. Once loaded it then continues north on its journey.
Quite a lot of mucking around when they could just reinstate the other platform. It's the age-old issue with Australian trains and 'customer' service. They've slapped it in the too-hard basket and it's frustrating to watch the infrastructure crumble.