More Photo Images

Australia Southern - more activities

Australia Southern Railroad has placed back in service the first of its refurbished ALF class locomotives overhauled by Clyde Engineering at Port Augusta, which brings its standard gauge corporate GWI livery roster up to four - three CLPs preceded ALF18. Of course, one of the DAs (low short hood modified 830-class) at Port Lincoln on the 3ft-6ins gauge freight-only system is also in the corporate orange with twin black stripes.

First seen in Adelaide just after acceptance by ASR at Dry Creek's Motive Power Centre on 28th January, ALF18 was hiding between the eastern roller door at the northern end, and a very tired looking green and silver CLP. It was being inspected by fitters before being placed into service out of Adelaide.

The only spot to obtain a view of it from anywhere near the front was from inside the dark depot looking towards the sunlight. Using digital enhancing techniques, brightness, contrast and gamma were able to be stretched to give a reasonable image devoid of any background, a quite unique shot.

In service, and a capture from a videotape taken in the pouring rain on Saturday morning 6th March; corporate ALF18 and two green ALFs work out of Dry Creek North and South yards with the Perth-bound SCT container train, comprising partly Adelaide loading, and partly through loading from Melbourne.

This is a different locale for the engine which had been performing shake-down trials out of Port Augusta on the Leigh Creek coal run until the South Australian government decided to let the contract to taxpayer subsidised New South Wales government operator Freightcorp, notwithstanding their avowed aim to put South Australia back on the map by the encouragement of local business. So much for the catchcry of "level playing fields" in the industry.

Here is a classic front view of corporate liveried CLP13 taken on Saturday 20th February, on the occasion of its use on the multi-purpose oil train from Dry Creek to Cook and Parkeston. This train carried two empty grain hopper consists and a number of empty flats for dropping off en route, along with a green 830 class Alco, being hauled north for power balancing on the weekend.

Travelling with the train were the three local company directors and the parent company's chief, Mortimer Fuller III from Genessee Wyoming Inc in the USA.

At the rear of our train we see not just the usual end of train marker, but car EI 84 attached to it.

EI 84 was originally 1st class observation lounge/sleeper ARF 84, constructed in 195x in Germany by Wegmann for the Commonwealth Railways as part of the original "Trans-Australian Railway Express" airconditioned consist.

The "Trans" and the "Tea and Sugar" were hauled by similar looking but earlier bulldog-nosed EMD F series variants, the Clyde-built ML1 class, of which eleven were erected and which carried the road numbers GM1 to GM11.

Walking around the side we find that a second old "Trans" lounge car (AFB 137) has also been refurbished - as a travelling board room.

This had been so recently completed that there had not been time to fix company's logo decals to the sides.


A conversation was overheard where it was discussed that there was no evidence of decaying fish left in the refrigerator on this trip!

If you don't know the story about the rotting fish, please read Mark Carter's article on page 40 of the March 1999 issue of "Railway Digest" where he discusses an SCT trip six weeks earlier which was used by GWI corporate photographer Rob Reynolds where three orange CLPs headed the train and an excellent photograph obtained by Mark at Port Germein was obtained, published on page 17 of the same publication.

In conjunction with a series of videotape shoots attempted in the extremely hot weather of that period, opportunity was taken to revisit the photo spot of the 1980s - "Fosters' Corner" in the Belair National Park.

Located just five miles from Adelaide (as the crow flies), one can (just!) shoot a departure from Keswick Passenger Terminal and then while obeying all the legal speed limits and other road rules arrive at this spot in time to set up and shoot, providing that all angles have been worked out beforehand. This is because the train has to travel three times the distance as it climbs and negotiates reverse curves en route.

In the next section, a number of video captures are shown, but the one here was taken in the (relatively) early morning of Wednesday 10th March, and features the Patrick's hook-and-pull 1100 feet up in the ranges, in dynamic brake for the past seven miles and the next twelve, rolling down the 1 in 40 grade with its 10 chain radius s-bend curves.

Great Southern - recent activities

Photographed at Keswick on 18th February, the five refurbished "Overland" cars had arrived from Port Augusta after having upholstery and floor-coverings replaced. The exteriors have been cleaned down to bare metal, and the previously black roofs and maroon window strips and ends have been painted silver. Work performed at Keswick included the upgrading of the electrics and fire detection and other security circuitry including extensive rewiring, much of which was carried out on the dock platform track adjacent to Train Services.

The refurbished cars stand in the Keswick carriage service depot on the afternoon of 9th March. 4PCO power van is at the other end, and at this one is an ex-"Trans Australian" HM class baggage van, as there are no remaining "Overland" joint stock CO baggage vans left available for service. The slight difference between the two types of carbody can be seen close up.

A number of camera videotape captures of the departure of the refurbished "Overland" carriages on their shake-down run in revenue service which took place on the night of Tuesday 9th March are included here.

First we see the train hauled by NR's BL27 in SteelLink livery (the first BL delivered) having left the platform at 1915 (on time) heading for the main line south, the camera being mounted on the footbridge which leads from Richmond Road to the suburban platforms. The all-silver "Overland" is quite a departure, as for several years - both during GSR operations, and in the last months of AN operations - there was a mixture of surplus "Railways of Australia" 1968-70 era stainless Budd pattern cars along with the few remaining serviceable VR-SAR joint stock built in the 1950s. Two BLs are used exclusively on the overnight service, both being in SteelLink dark blue paint, the other is BL33; crews change at Dimboola.

In the interim years, HGM power vans and HM mail/baggage vans from the discontinued "Trans-Australian" days have been used at the extreme ends of the "Overland", presumably because of the unserviceability of the original PCO and CO joint-stock vehicles.

This next frame is also a video capture, as is the next, both shot in Belair National Park on the same evening with the same train, the camera being located on the southern side of the main line almost at the westbound entry signal to Belair crossing loop.

The Belair approach signal's red aspect could have been seen in the top left of the frame, had the camera not panned slightly right at the time this capture was taken. The time is about 8pm, looking slightly north of west, towards the setting sun.

In this frame it is possible to discern - even though the light is poor - that there is a difference in the surface finish between the power van behind the engine - 4PCO - and the rest of the consist. This van was actually the one repainted by AN all over (including the stainless steel flutes below the window line) in the "Explorer" blue and gold livery. More recently it was subjected to an ALL-OVER silver paint job; instead of doing the job properly by first of all removing the blue paint over the stainless steel, the silver paint was applied over the top, which is quite obvious on close examination. This is a pity as it is very noticeable with the eye, and marrs an otherwise good-looking refurbishment.

The unusual "Explorer" paint job can be seen in this next shot in much more detail. The photograph was taken mid-morning at Keswick's platform in April 1998 before its more recent "treatment". In the low angle of the sun's rays at the time of evening departure to Melbourne after repainting, the "compass rose" design of the Explorer logo can still be seen in relief, underneath the silver paint on the side panels of 4PCO!

The silver painted power van can also be seen in the next shot (another video capture) which shows a different passenger consist but with repainted 4PCO on a shake-down run arriving at Keswick that same morning.

The "Overland" runs into Adelaide, on Tuesday 9th March, just a bit late, still justifying its ongoing nickname of "The Overdue". No wonder too, when one considers the route it has to take under the unbelievable agreement made by the Keating government with Victoria when converting the Adelaide-Melbourne line to standard gauge in 1984. I travelled on it in the sixties when it took ten hours; now it takes twelve on what has been called a "goat track" some sixty kilometres LONGER than the direct route which has been cut (by a bulldozer) west of Ballarat, Victoria's second largest city, which is no longer served by an interstate railway. The national road highway (of course) runs through Ballarat, so its inhabitants go by one of several bus company routes. When will bureaucrats ever learn?

An even more unbelievable bungle has existed for nearly five years at the city of Geelong, the apparent reason for the southerly route of the "One Nation" main railway line. Completed in 1995, there is still not a passenger platform on the standard gauge to encourage would-be travellers to and from Adelaide to catch the train. No, they have to go sixty kilometers into Melbourne, and then catch a train which comes BACK through their town. It could only happen in Australia's bumbling bureaucratic mess of an administration.

What could officialdom do? Well, the answer dates back to 1969 when the Western Australian Government Railways nailed the last spike connecting the Commonwealth standard gauge line at Kalgoorlie with theirs from Perth. Until such time as they took delivery of the "Prospector" dmu high-speed railcars, the very long passenger platform was dedicated to narrow gauge service, and a temporary solution was provided in advance of the first standard gauge passenger train running through.

To overcome the problem of passenger patronage, they cut steps down to track level in the middle of the platform close to the station building, and laid a concrete path across the platform track, connecting with a concrete platform a foot above the ballast, running the full length of the station (twenty car lengths) and located within the "six foot way" between the standard gauge main and the narrow gauge main. They could do that in the west thirty years ago.

We are supposed to have advanced since then. But they were in WA, who along with Queensland are acknowledged as experts in railway engineering. It's a pity the "wise men from the east" in Victoria couldn't work out something so simple for themselves!

The final photo in this section is a capture taken from a videotape of the departure westwards of the "Indian Pacific" from Keswick at 1800 on the late afternoon of Tuesday 9th March, the low angle of the sun being quite noticeable.

The camera was mounted on the southern side of the "Bakewell Bridge" - where Henley Beach Road crosses what used to be Mile End Junction, immediately above where the signal cabin was until the yard was rebuilt in the early 1980s. Those unfamiliar with this spot should note that there is no pedestrian access to the northern side, and hence train movements on the curve between this bridge and the Port Road bridge cannot be photographed from a high vantage point. It is necessary to take a ground shot of trains travelling southwards towards Henley Beach Road.

An arguably better view of the train stretched out around the bend can be obtained by standing on the Port Road bridge.

Bluebird Rail - recent activities

Bluebird Rail Engineering have acquired the two remaining Budd Company RDC-1 cars in order to refurbish one (CB 2, which is in working order but severely vandalised) and retaining the other unit (also vandalised) for spare parts.

Three of these were purchased by the Commonwealth Railways in 195x for shuttle and private hire purposes, and a licence to construct similar units was later given to Commonwealth Engineering by Budd.

Comeng (now Adtranz) as the Budd Company Australian licencee subsequently constructed a range of self-propelled railcars for New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland passenger services, but only the three original genuine Budds conformed to the larger American loading gauge.

One may speculate, therefore, that there could be a leased arrangement in the future, similar to the Broad Gauge Barossa trains, on the standard gauge within South Australia.

It might even be incorrectly thought that there would be a possibility to run to Mount Barker Junction and connect with the Victor Harbour line's "SteamRanger" preserved trains...?

Bluebird has picked up a significant amount of rebuilding work for private freight rail company Speciallised Container Transport who hires its hook-and-pull between Adelaide and Kalgoorlie to Australia Southern (ASR). Currently SCT's Melbourne-Adelaide services are hauled by V/Line Freight using two or three G-class locos.

With the privatisation of V/Line Freight and the succesful rebuilding of ASR's 3300 horsepower locomotives, speculation exists on how their locomotive requirements will turn out. Should ASR be chosen, it is possible that Great Northern would supply crews from Dimboola eastwards. The industry is in a continuous state of flux and it will only be after genuine privatisation that one is likely to see stability - vide the Leigh Creek coal contract.

Regarding Leigh Creek, it is rumoured that Freightcorp are finding that the 81s they are using are too fuel-hungry for the job and they are running at a loss! Apparently a suggestion has been made by Freightcorp that more recent fuel efficient power should be used, but it seems that there would be problems over the maintenance provisions with motive power provider Clyde who services later units under contract, nearly a thousand miles away in New South Wales. Hmm. Rather like the reason for the reintroduction of BLs on the "Overland" for the same reason because the NRs (it is said) don't get to a fuel efficient throttle notch with the light loading.

The pair of Silverton 442s converted to Driver Only Operation and repainted in Silverton livery are still in Bluebird's area at Islington. Picture shows them outside for attention to batteries.

Until recently, they were being kept company by two ex NSW 45-class units (30 and 31) which were also having modifications done and a new livery applied.

Over the Anzac Day weekend, they were moved by sister unit 29 (which is still in the earlier darker yellow and blue) "across the road" to National Rail's terminal, for despatch dead to Port Pirie on the evening of 27th April.

29, 30 and 31 are sitting just the other side of the fence in National Rail's Regency Park yard on 27th April, waiting to be moved north that night, to be then transferred to an empty ore train working back to Broken Hill from Port Pirie.

29 (on the right), as can be seen, is still in the earlier slightly darker yellow and blue livery. 30 and 31, being back-to-back, one can see the differences between the two sides in the new paint job.

Updated on 1st July 2006