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B75 helps out Qube on the Maryvale Paper Train

This freight train operates in South-East Victoria. It runs from the terminal at Dynon and carries containerised paper products to and from the Australian Paper mill at Maryvale.

Qube operates the service and is often changing the motive power around. They have a good selection of locomotives, but recently have suffered a few failures in their more powerful units. Due to this, there's been a random selection of lesser-powered locomotives, meaning more units and more variety.

23th January 2017

The word had spread that B75 had been leant to Qube and would be leading the nightly service. It usually passes South Yarra just before 8pm, but, of course, was running late last night. Fortunately there was just enough light to snap it.

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I was hoping it'd take the down Frankston line, but it instead stayed on it's usual down Pakenham. You could hear it coming.. the B sounded awesome with the S and VL behind it making just as much noise.

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Nice and dark at 8:32pm, but I'm still happy with the result.

24th January 2017

Turns out this might be a regular event! The G classes must still be out of action. Nothing like a bit of sunlight to help out evening photography.

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25th January 2017

This time I tackled the train head-on from platform 2 at South Yarra station.

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Still looking just as clean and tidy as ever.

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26th January 2017

This was to be the final day that B75 was helping out... It seems that the drivers wanted to do something special, and so instead of just driving the consist back, they ran B75 around at Morwell and had her lead back. It was also Australia Day, so there were flags hanging from the wing mirrors.

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I really want to thank Qube for putting this show on!

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23Jan/170

SCT begins Melbourne to Brisbane freight services

SCT has always had an agreement with Aurizon to provide a small loading for north-bound freight services. This has recently expanded into a full-sized consist and SCT are now running the services themselves. The very first Melbourne-Brisbane service ran on Saturday the 21st of January 2017, departing the SCT Laverton terminal just after 8pm.

Thanks to daylight savings, there was a chance to actually get a photo around Sunshine Station. Aptly named in this circumstance... The area provides a view of the BG and SG tracks, with a set of grain silos as a backdrop. The usual V/Line and Metro services provided entertainment whilst waiting for the freights.

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The Melbourne-bound XPT bolted through, only a little bit late.

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Aurizon then came through with 7BM7, only to later have an extended stay in Wagga Wagga. I do love that they cleaned the grime off the front logo.

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7MC2 started to depart Dynon, but the XPT also jumped. The XPT was therefore given priority.

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7MC2 then spooled up. From Sunshine, you could hear it accelerating from stand-still over in Tottenham.

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It sounded and looked fine as it passed... but it failed not too much further down the line, crawling into Seymour. It didn't continue its trip to Junee until the next day when two other locomotives joined it.

Up next, the SCT consist. SCT011 was attached at SCT Laverton to pull the whole train out of the yard and onto the main line. It then detached and SCT004 had the honours of pulling the train around the bend at Spotswood and over the triangle. From Sunshine, the train could be heard well before it was visible, as the wheel screeching over the triangle was tremendous.

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It had an interesting consist, with the crew car 7 cars back from the locomotives.

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And that was a wrap... the sun hardly held up for the late departure... I might try and get it earlier down the track next weekend. It's really great to see more colour on the eastern corridor.

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16Jan/170

The annual Christmas pilgrimage – December, 2016

Just like the christmas trip in 2015, this trip just past for 2016 Xmas wasn't overly different. Still a great location with a lot of sightings. An early start out of Melbourne meant an easy trip onto the Hume highway. I caught the southbound XPT just out of Kilmore and a southbound inter-modal in Seymour.

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After a speeding ticket in Benalla, I b-line'd it straight to the Olympic Highway. It's a nice drive, off the beaten path, and away from influences to do stupid things on the road. First stop was at Harefield and I was greeted by an IRA 44 Class! Qube has taken ownership of a few of them and has been using one for the shuttle into Junee.

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Not much was happening in the yard, so it was a bolt further north to intercept the southbound steel train. I beat it through Illabo, meeting it on a driveway half way between Illabo and Bethungra.

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From there it was off to Cootamundra to tackle the XPT. I tried to beat it to Jindalee, but it won. Instead I then backtracked and got it at the station.

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At this time of day, between the two XPTs, there's always a quiet time when the sun is at it's peak and the rails are buckling. Due to this, I took time to have lunch and check out the pool at the usual motel.

Back to it... the XPT was fast approaching from the south and I wanted to get it at Jindalee this time.

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And then something weird happened... an off-the-radar rail-grinder rolled through! I love being in the-right-place-at-the-right-time.

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And of course, being zoomed-in and distracted, I hadn't realised that the 81+82 on the grain train were steadily already rolling towards me.

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The next train was a bunch of QBXs heading south to Junee. I had enough time, so I thought I'd try something different at Wallendbeen.

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That angle worked really well! I then caught them again past Jindalee on a driveway half-way back to Cootamundra.

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They didn't slow down through Coota, so I kept to the limit and then got in front of them before Bethungra.

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I had a really hard time keeping up with them once they were on the other side of the spiral. It's all downhill for them and me, but they were doing somewhere around 95km/h and made it hard to catch up when the speed limit was 100km/h. We were both fast-approaching Junee and I managed around a 50 metre advantage; just enough to park road-side safely and snap a shot above some lovely green pastures.

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From here, it was Junee yard.

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From there, it was back to Wallendbeen to catch the next southbound intermodal.

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I got in front of it and made it to another driveway past Jindalee, but before Coota.

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The sun was already starting to lose light, but there was still enough time to get the 2 QBXs that were coming in via Stockinbingal.

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Nothing was next on the radar, so I checked out the yard at Coota. Turns out there was a bit of shunting going on to get a grain train to fit in the yard.

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That steel wagon must have been defective as it was sitting by itself, blocking one road, to start with. It ended up being shunted into another road onto so that the arriving train could stash half of its wagons there. Pretty quick work actually. Nice to hear the 81s powering up and down when shunting a whole train to shift one wagon.

After this, it was dinner time... an early start on the radar showed, what should have been, a great opportunity for a cross at Yass Junction. Due to this I packed up and got on the road early. Thanks to my miscalculation, the pass actually happened around Goondah and the light was terrible. Instead I forged ahead to Yass and got the northbound grain there.

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I really do like that angle. From the grain silo, instead of the platform, you can get a nice long telephoto shot of the descent into the Junction. From here, it was off to Canberra and there's not much going on nowadays with the Museum closed and the scrap metal train done.

On the way back to Melbourne, I saw an opportunity for a shot at Jindalee of a northbound grain train. This all lined up well ... very well ... as the-right-place-at-the-right-time happened again.

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The grain train then appeared.

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A quick stop was had in Cootamundra to snap the Lachlan Valley Railway sheds where they have a nice collection of railmotors and 47 class locomotives.

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And then finally, after a pie at Culcairn, I caught up to a southbound freighter at Henty.

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The dim weather on the way back turned much dimmer over Seymour where visibility actually dropped to around 10 metres. Most people parked on the side of the road; but I didn't see that as 100% necessary and a few of us kept on driving through the car wash.

Another awesome pilgrimage!

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3Jan/170

The annual Christmas pilgrimage – December, 2015

This post is only around a year late. I've recently done this trip from Melbourne to Canberra to visit the family for Christmas and, whilst taking happy snaps this year (well, 2016), realised I had misplaced the photos I'd taken last year (well, 2015). Turns out they were sitting in a folder on the desktop of my (now disused) Vaio Duo.

Anyway, the annual pilgrimage includes a stopover in Cootamundra. I've now stayed at the Cootamundra Gardens Motel three times and have never been disappointed. Coota heats up during the day and the motel even has a pool! You're also in ear-shot of the railway and level crossing on Gundagai Road.

Cootamundra is a great spot to stop. It's the junction of the "west" line to Parkes and the "main south." You get grain trains frequently as the station precinct includes grain storage facilities. You also get the east-coast steel trains and intermodals. There's the XPT and also the Griffith Xplorer (when they're running.) As I mentioned, it also gets very hot, so sunlight usually isn't an issue... also, there's the occasional thunderstorm at this time of year, so the backgrounds can be quite picturesque.

Speaking of picturesque, there's a lot of great photo opportunities to be had in the area...

Jindalee

Heading North out of Cootamundra, you'll cross the railway and then hit the 100 km/h zone. From here, you run parallel with the railway until North Jindalee Road. Turn left into North Jindalee Road then then left again into West Jindalee Road. This is a dirt road that happens to cross the railway where it deviates to negotiate the climb to Wallendbeen. From this bridge, if you're willing to drag your car over the dirt track (which is actually in great condition), you get a great view of the curves on both sides.

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Between Jindalee and Cootamundra

There are numerous level crossings along the stretch where the railway line parallels the highway between Jindalee and Cootamundra. Most of these are private property driveways, so be courteous and do not overstay your welcome.

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Berthong Road Level Crossing

From Cootamundra, take Temora Road north. Once in the 100 km/h zone, take the second right turn. It's a cross-roads and, after turning right, you'll quickly come to a level crossing with ample space to park. Berthong Road provides a great location to get south-bound trains at any time of day. It is also a great place to get north-bound, but the lighting is better in the evening.

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Bob Dear's Crossing

I don't know who Bob was, but just east out of Cootamundra is a fully equipped level crossing. You can get a good angle from below track-level on west-bound trains.

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North Bethungra Level Crossing

When approaching Bethungra from Cootamundra, the highway crosses the rails just north of the spiral. This location provides a great view in both directions; just make sure you choose the right side before the lights start flashing.

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Bethungra Spiral

This helix was created to enable heavy trains to climb the gradient what was too steep for a straight run. The south-bound track doesn't run the loop, only the north-bound track does. The basic idea is that the track is constructed in a loop that gradually inclines, allowing trains to keep speed and climb at the same time. Tunnels are used to allow tracks to cross.

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There is an access road (look for the Bethungra Waterworks sign) that will take you up to some amazing vantage points. Trucks and other machinery often use this road, so please make sure you park your vehicle out of the way!

Junee to Harefield

Junee is another junction-town like Cootamundra. It also hosts a range of accomodation and constant activity. There's a roundhouse also, which has a miriad of rollingstock hanging around in various states of (dis)repair. Qube has recently been running shuttles out of Junee to Harefield to build their consists which then run to Melbourne and Sydney. The rail from Junee to Harefield is relatively straight, but has some great curves mid-way.

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Fortunately, you can then cruise down the highway and meet any train again at Harefield itself. There's usually always activity here with a train being loaded or shunted.

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So, this was 2015... I've got a wad of photos from 2016 to post now... but I'll let this lot settle first.

2Nov/160

Melbourne – Cup Day 2016

Usually public holidays means very little freight traffic, but everything-and-more was running yesterday! I promised myself to sit in front of the computer, and work on computer-related-projects, but gave up quickly when I looked at the radar and saw that XR554 was leading the Long Island. I ran out of the apartment and just managed to catch the Metro Frankston train in front of the freighter from Hawksburn Station.

Glenhuntly Station - Long Island Steel Train

Glenhuntly Station was chosen as the vantage point. I'd always wanted a shot of the steelie coming round the bend. This intersection happens to be a 'Tram Square' where tram lines cross the railway lines. The catenary has to cross at this point too, and so only one network is energised at a time. There are insulators isolating the crossing wires and, I would assume, there is some large electrical switch that chooses which network is powered into the junction.

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I was paying too much attention to the infrastructure and nearly didn't hear the freighter approaching!

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The sun came out perfectly for the curve. Very happy to see an XR in the lead.

Two 49s and a Tamper

I was about to head home, and continue that work I promised myself, when saw something strange on the radar. A 49 Class NSW Locomotive heading south into Melbourne. These are sorta like the Victorian T Class, and aren't often down south. Not really knowing a good location, I attempted somewhere new, on-foot. From Albion Station on the Subury Line, I walked over to the curve where the Standard Gauge joins (or re-joins, really) the electrified broad gauge.

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Turned out to be a pretty good location! One other on-looker had already been waiting there too. The colour-scheme looks really good on this loco, especially in overcast lighting.

CSR002 - The Sugar Cube

The map indicated that the new SCT movement was coming through next. It wasn't for about an hour though, so I caught the train back to Sunshine and got lunch at the mall. I also purchased an external battery pack for my phone, as the radar does happily trash one's battery. These batteries usually come pre-charged and this brick happily gave me a full charge prior to giving up the ghost. After mucking around and not paying attention to the radar, I realised that I was now running late and that CSR002 was already at Jacana. A quick run from the mall straight to the overpass saw me back in location with around 1 minute to spare.

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These sugar cubes get their name from their very boxy shape, and the fact that their class name is 'CSR' (a famous Australian sugar company.) The train hurtled round the bend with 2 vans which it had retrieved from the new SCT depot in Wodonga.

The 49s return home

These two didn't hang around long. After the CSR came through, I ventured back to Albion station and awaited the next Metro train. I just missed one and so the next service wasn't for ~20mins. This was fortunate as the 49s showed up on the radar on the triangle near the LPC in Dynon. It turns out that they were turning around on the triangle; I assume 4911 has the accreditation to run in VIC and 4917 was there as backup.

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They bolted through at track-speed and headed home. It always seems to be the days you least expect that provide the most excitement.

31Oct/160

Steamrail – 50 Years Of The Vintage Train

Steamrail Victoria is a heritage train preservation group that runs out of the Newport workshops, Victoria. They have a large selection of operational vehicles and they run a lot of tours throughout the year in Victoria.

This past weekend they ran a 50th anniversary for their "The Vintage Train" service that commemorates 50 years of running preserved steam locomotives in Victoria. They outdid themselves by having two consists running from Melbourne to Geelong, in parallel where possible!

Getting the consists to Southern Cross

As that there is no turn-around facilities at Southern Cross Station, both locomotives had to run tender-first with their consists from Newport to Southern Cross.

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R761 was up first, basking in the morning sunlight through Spotswood.

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D3-693 came through a few minutes later, letting a spark run first.

Southern Cross to Geelong

Both consists left Southern cross just after 10am. Initially it was stated that one was to run via Werribee and the other via the Regional Rail Link. I'm still not sure why, but both ended up running via the RRL. I caught R761 at Tarneit on the curve I previously mentioned. The train perfectly ploughed into the sunlight just as it approached Tarneit.

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Following Google Maps, I then proceeded to Manor Loop. There was an intention to beat R761 to this location, but that wasn't an option obeying traffic rules. Instead, D3693 came bolting down the RRL as it joined back onto the Western Line. This was an unexpected delight, as it was actually meant to have run via Werribee?

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From here, I joined the cavalcade. Turns out there were a lot of enthusiasts on the road. Of course, these were back roads and one or two of them were dirt. Unfortunately, the enthusiasts have passion and had no regard for road rules. Rocks were flying, dangerous overtaking was being practised and the poor locals really had no idea what was going on as an army of bad drivers plundered their way from Little River to Lara.

I attempted a few shots along the way, but the trains were, for the most part, well ahead of me. The sun was also in a bad spot. To make things harder, the trains were also leap-frogging for front place and my timing sucked. There was also a serious amount of contention for 'being in front' when a good photo spot was popular.

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I then took my time, there were no more locations to get the trains before Geelong.

Geelong Station

Both trains were already on the platforms and one loco had already started the run-around. There was also a crowd who must have heard the trains arrive as they didn't seem to know what the trains were actually doing.

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Both trains ran around. I assume they then went off to the V/Line depot and turned on the turntable. The goal was to then bring them back into the station and attach them to the opposite train that they came in with.

Returning via the RRL

I was about to head back to Melbourne. The weather was turning crap and there weren't too many good photo locations (that weren't smothered with enthusiasts) along the return route. I then realised I hadn't gotten a proper shot of the trains side-by-side, so I stuck around (a book helped) and decided on Little River to get the shot I'd actually spent the day for.

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Of course, I chose the end of the 'parallel run' area and the trains weren't going to actually be side-by-side at this point. They did get very close... R761 was ahead on the approach and slowed right down to allow D3693 to catch up, but then bolted ahead a little too early and made its way back to Melbourne first.

As D3693 approached the platform, the level crossing activated. It seems to have then faulted, as the lights were flashing but the gates didn't come down. Cars built up and then started crossing. A V/Locity crawled its way from the other direction on caution as the light must've also been red from the other side. After a 20 minute wait, the gates came down properly and the steamer was given a proceed back to Melbourne.

I returned to Melbourne also. Really great day out!

24Oct/160

Melbourne – 3rd Quarter 2016

You'd probably not think it... but this site was actually created to talk about (big and small) trains. I've been pretty distracted lately by vintage computers and other such electronic fun. Just for something different, I thought I'd throw in an update on the latest happenings around Melbourne.

Regional Rail Link

This line, from Sunshine to Manor Loop, has been completed for ages and is functioning well. The first station on the 'new part' from Deer Park is Tarneit, followed by Wyndham Vale. There is then a loop in the middle of the bi-directional tracks for peak-hour services to return. Every afternoon a push-pull set utilises this.

From Tarneit Station, you get a great view of the Melbourne skyline as you look east-ish back to the city. There's also a nice long curve, on which an approaching service would be very photogenic in the right lighting conditions. Unfortunately, Melbourne's weather is shit.

Every so often a 'hospital' train runs from Tottenham to Geelong. These trains consist of ill rollingstock requiring servicing in Geelong and a BG engine (normally a G or an XR) hauls the lot west. This movement has been known to traverse the RRL and Tarneit would provide a great vantage point to get a shot of it.

I saw the right locomotives appear on the radar in Tottenham and got in position at Tarneit. Unfortunately the train took the old way through Brooklyn and Werribee. I was still fortunate enough to get the Down Warrnambool service.

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I was actually on the station platform when I saw that diesel approaching... hence missed the skyline in the proper shot!

Moonee Ponds Creek Viaduct

This amazing piece of architecture was built for the opening of the Albion Jacana Railway Line in 1929. The State Library Victoria has some awesome photographs of the construction. I was out there one early morning in August to see Steamrail traverse the bridge.

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The XPT showed up first. V/Line's SG set then came through into Melbourne.

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QR were hot in pursuit with a Melbourne-bound freighter.

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And then Steamrail's A2-986 came through on it's first long run since it was returned to service.

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The AK cars were southbound... so I hung around for them as an added bonus.

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Meanwhile, back in South Yarra

For the first time in a while, a very clean and shiny XR lead the Long Island train south. Seems they were doing work on it as the side-panel on the loco was wide open and you could see the engine working hard as it went past.

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I then tried some new angles from random legal spots trackside.

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That last one is a new favourite! There's a sound-proofing wall near my place that allows the puppies to play in a park without train noise... Fortunately you can get behind it, still on public land, and grab a really nice angle. Now we just need daylight savings to stretch a little later.

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Meanwhile the mud-holes are just getting worse!

R707 to Seymour

R707 Operations took their steamer from Southern Cross to Seymour and I tried to get it at Kensington. If it wasn't the sunlight that was going to ruin the shot then it was to be a bloody spark.

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Steamrail's Rail and Sail Tour

This was to go via Werribee, so I thought I'd check out the tracks down that way as it's been a while. I started at Lara in the morning, and then, as that I'd never photographed from it, chose Williams Landing for the return trip.

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A G-class then bolted east with 4 locomotives in tow. This little blighter wasn't on the radar and snuck through... would've been a great shot! On the return journey, the freighters first put on a show... but then the weather turned to poop.

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Footscray Vantage Points

Thanks to the Regional Rail Link mentioned above, there were a number of buildings demolished when they added the extra two tracks through. As long as you are careful (seriously! watch out for syringes!) then you can get a good shot from Short Street, just off Albert Street. 42202 just happened to be on its way through with an SCT shuttle. I've never heard such a loud flat-spot on a loco!

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What's next?

Steamrail Victoria are parallel-running two steamers to Geelong next weekend. This should actually be really cool... as long as the drivers lock-step and don't try to race. They'll then parallel run back... via the RRL! Too bad they'll be facing in the wrong direction. Either way, should be a good day out.

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15Jun/160

Trains… a backlog.

I'm sure I should've posted these events as they happened... but one thing lead to another and... I didn't. The folders were starting to cover my desktop so badly that I've now decided to just cull 95% of the photos and keep the only very best... or are required for story-telling.

Below are the happenings since some time around October last year.

Cs on the North-East

The C class is a good-looking locomotive. Delegated to freight, they never get their chances on express passenger services. One train buff in Australia happened to gather enough support to fund a passenger tour hauled by a C class locomotive. This tour ran from Melbourne through to Albury and return.

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I caught it at Wandong, just north of Melbourne. Happened to be a nice sweeping curved and I totally fluked it. There were a few other trains in the vicinity also.

Steamrail Kaniva Loop Tour

This tour was run on both gauges. We had V/Line use it's P-Class locomotives first, which got us to Ararat. We then transfered over to the Standard Guage and had a TL pull us all the way out to Kaniva. I'm sure this town used to have ... people ... but not much happens nowadays!

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The highlight? The roof panel split off on the way back... must've been fiberglass debris everywhere.

Hunter Valley Steamfest

This is a huge annual event centered on Maitland, NSW. All heritage groups get together and bring their shiniest locomotives to the event. There's always a "Great Train Race" and this year the 6029 Garratt appeared. Canberra actually entered 2 of the 4 trains in the race. Fortunately, there's also 100s of other trains in the area; it's the backbone of the Hunter Valley coal train network.

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The steamers, prior to the race, were running shuttles left-right-and-center. Most had a diesel on the rear to prevent any repercussions if a breakdown were to occur.

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Then, it happened.

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A damn cool sight... and supposedly a world-record! The rest was just coal trains and more freight.

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..and now I'm somewhere up-to-date. Enjoy.

21Feb/160

Nice view – South Yarra

...and every now and then a great combo!

I'll soon make this feed public. Stay tuned...

31Jul/150

Chasing the Maryvale Paper Train

Well, not really chasing, more like just being in the right place at the right time. It turns out they've flipped the schedule on this and the UP service now runs through to the CBD at around 2pm daily.

This is nothing short of perfectly timed. The steel runs down around 3 hours earlier... it's therefore good to go and stretch the legs when these services come through the area.

Malvern Station

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Armadale Station

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Toorak Station

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Hawksburn Station

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Just past Hawksburn

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South Yarra Station

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Just after South Yarra Station

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The curve after South Yarra, just before Richmond...

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Richmond Station

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Nice and colourful... no post processing on any pics!