One modelling “resolution” (not my preferred term!) for 2015 is to instigate and conduct regular (read monthly) operating sessions on the Border District. Twelve sessions for the year should see the entire Monday to Saturday timetable covered. Each operating session, though “sequence” focussed, roughly covers twelve hours of real time, circa 1976, in southern South Australia and western Victoria.
With a new, improved, completed timetable in place, invites for the first session for 2015 were sent out … and five brave gents answered the call, with several apologies also tendered. Six to seven operators is probably the limit for the “District”, given the lack of space afforded by the two operating wells, so the numbers were just about spot on. Craig took on the Train Control job for the afternoon and did a tidy job in a first up effort (I honestly thought I’d have the TC job for all twelve sessions this year … thanks Craig). I found myself relegated (gladly) to the yard at Tatiara Downs, previously on most people’s “not my favourite task” list … I don’t know why! Darren and Paul took one train crew job with Mark and Iain taking the other and both crews excelled … so much so that, for the first time after a handful of “sea trail” operating sessions in 2014, I’m pleased and proud to say the entire sequence of twenty-one movements were completed – great effort, men!
The timetable and train crew structure was changed little for the 2015 sessions, with one crew being designated a “Victorian” crew (Darren and Paul) and the other being a “South Australian” crew (Mark and Iain). The change was enacted for a few reasons, the greatest two being that it meant all “through” trains had to be handed over between crews at Tatiara Downs (which added to the sense of realism in operation) and also, in theory at least, the two crews should rarely find themselves working on top of one another. While the handover aspect was effective, the crews didn’t always enjoy the intended separation – at times, things were indeed more than a tad “cosy”!
All in all though, I feel the first op session for the year was pretty successful … not withstanding a couple of early issues with trains (the Border District is usually derailment free, but the first two movements each saw issues with low coupler tangs and resultant cries of “in the dirt”) and the reckless actions of the yardmaster at Tatiara Downs – who probably should have paid more attention to what he was doing, rather than telling TC how to do his job! Thanks again to those that gave up their afternoon to again help me realise my dream of recreating realistic VR and SAR operations from the 1970s … I’m looking forward to the February session already.
A little about the three images in this post … the first shows SAR Alco 965 (a Trainorama offering modified to represent the last members of the 930 class delivered to the SAR) sitting on the turntable at Tatiara Downs loco. 965 had first worked SAR Train Number (TN) 243 empty grain into Tatiara Downs, then SAR TN 263 goods to Jameston and finally SAR TN 264 goods back to Tatiara Downs – a very well travelled loco! A Rocky River Models BT brake tender can be seen in the left foreground – thanks to Stuart Gamble for again adding to the rolling stock inventory on the “District”.
The second image shows the yard at Tatiara Downs at the end of the session, with the VR Y class subbing for an SAR 500 d/e still in the shops. The empty HS hoppers have been brought in by SAR TN 581, which actually worked through to Border Junction first, dropped half the empty hoppers at the siding for Southern Aggregates and then propelled back to Tatiara Downs. These empties will be forwarded for loading in the next session on SAR TN 147, which will also collect the then loaded hoppers from Southern Aggregates and bring them back to Tatiara Downs.
The final image shows the yard at the Victorian location of Nankiva at the conclusion of the session, VR TN 90 roadside goods have completed all work required. The grain silo is a work in progress (a Walthers offering) and some sort of “station presence” is currently being implied by a photocopy of the station building from Terang – likely to be the inspiration for a low relief structure here. I’m hopeful that regular operating sessions will also see the amount of “layout completion” undertaken between/for sessions increase … but I’m always hopeful!