Continuing the theme from the August 2015 operating session posts … it really, really is hard to believe that so far this year, eight sessions have been undertaken on the Border District – four for the 02:00 to 14:00 (am) session and 14:00 to 02:00 (pm) session! This month’s session saw the latter of these completed – the “pm” shift. A number of apologies were received ahead of the session, but on the day we returned to the “fantastic four” format with the three most “regular” operators – Mark, Iain and Craig – joining myself for an afternoon of train running – 1970s VR and SAR style. The image above (captured by Mark) gives a great illustration of this, with the Tatiara Downs yard pilot engine for the session, VR EMD diesel electric Y169, going about making up and breaking up a number of trains.
As is now seemingly common place, Iain took on the branchline crew role – no complaints from me given the way he does so, but there were some threats to rename Jameston “Iainston”! Craig relished the chance to not be lumbered with the Train Control role (a position not used when the crew size numbers four or less) to take on one of the mainline crew gigs and did a great job – though does need the write out “I must take my car cards with me” to help him remember this important task! Mark bravely took on the sole Tatiara Downs role (mainly as Head Shunter, but a little as Station master too) and despite a few moments of “cold sweats”, did so well in the role that he finished ahead of everyone else, which has me thinking that maybe the Tatiara Downs Head Shunter job is too easy! I enjoyed the chance to take on the second mainline crew role, as well as dropping into “pseudo Train Control” a few times and general giving assistance and advice, sometimes requested and sometimes not!
The above image, captured at Tatiara Downs, sees Y169 still going about pilot duties and SAR “Big Mikado” 730 sitting in the platform road, ahead of SAR TN 282 passenger service to Naracoorte. The steamer is under the control of Iain, who initially worked the train down the branch to Jameston (as SAR TN 281, which makes a connection with the ex-Adelaide Mt Gambier passenger train at Naracoorte), turned the loco, added a passenger brake to the consist and now heading back from whence he came! The VR shunter is in Mark’s capable hands. Not only did Mark finish the Tatiara Downs job ahead of schedule, he also had the time to take plenty of pictures … in fact, all images in this post are courtesy of Mark!
Below, more of Mark’s multiple talents are on display – undertaking some shunting to make up VR TN 880 fast goods, but also taking some happy snaps of himself in the process – who said that Tatiara Downs job is too hard and complicated? Loading on this shunt is from the goods shed, flour mill, livestock loading and the farmers’ co-operative and once added to the train (which also includes loading from South Australia, brought in on SAR TN 87 roadside goods), Craig will add a VR B class diesel to the front end, undertake a brake test (by checking each card card for wagon number and waybill destination) and wait for a green signal to head east … good fun!
The session was another very, very enjoyable one with lots of good chat … and some gentle ribbing at times. However, all twenty-six workings were completed in record time – we even tried using the NCE fast clock and finished the session more than two “fast clock” hours ahead of time (however, the sequence timetable was developed using a 6:1 ratio, and we ran the fast clock at 4:1, given there were four crew in total). With eight sessions this year under the belt, I feel that “five” might be the ideal number of operators – adding an overall Train Control/Station Master role to the four roles we used this session to help coordinate the sometimes complex movement and interchange of trains and wagons. It was great to see all operators checking notes and the train graph … and taking on extra workings and operations where and when needed to keep things flowing. We even managed a couple of timetabled train crosses very late in the session … thanks men – another great afternoon and session!
The September operating session also saw the debut of the much anticipated and awaited “Southern Aggregates” facility … but I feel this is significant enough to warrant its own blog post – however, to say reception of “Southern Aggregates” was positive would be an understatement. Continuing the theme of “positive”, Iain shared stories and (lots of!) pictures from his trip to Adelaide to attend the “Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention” this year – leaving us very much “wowed”. These two factors combined to show just how much modelling potential there is, and just how much quality modelling is out there also. In a final image from the session (below), Mark is just about at the end of his trick, working some empty flour pots and vans from the yard to the mill siding at Tatiara Downs …