Following on from “Part 1”, the August 2015 operating session once again raised the question of just how much work for the crew at Tatiara Downs is too much?! The image above, captured by Mark, gives some indication of the “carnage” that can be felt here … three trains are concurrently being made and/or broken up, creating a good deal of work for both the head shunter and also another crew, who are at the helm of the VR T class diesel. Tatiara Downs is conceived to be located at the centre of five different destinations/origins: Adelaide, Mount Gambier, Melbourne, Portland and Ararat (and hence northern and north western Victoria too). Paperwork to assist those that only visit the Border District once a month to operate continues to be refined and revised – with plenty of positive input from the crew.
I thoroughly enjoy the challenge that is routing wagons and commodities from one of these five destinations to another … and while the layout is very much “proto-freelanced”, I have been able to use actual Murray Bridge Division (SAR) and Western and South Western Victoria (VR) Working Timetables to build from what really was. However, many an operator has commented how challenging working the yard at Tatiara Downs can be … it is usually the last job “grabbed” and often falls to your truly! I’m very grateful that Mark was willing to take on the role at Tatiara Downs last session, as though I know it created some moments of angst, I also saw a few “tricks” from him to expedite movements that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. The image above, captured by Mark, shows one of these – empty grain wagons having been shunted briefly to the stock loading siding, clearing the way to pull the loaded hoppers out first.
Despite the operational challenges at Tatiara Downs – which probably give me the most pause for thought and possible change between sessions, a few structures continue to be added here to enhance the experience. Already shared in this post (and others) are the stockyards at Tatiara Downs, courtesy of Mr Don Bishop, which has really started to “set the scene”. At our most recent session though, a mock up of another much anticipated structure was displayed for the first time – the goods shed. Mark has offered to build this and is using the goods sheds at Naracoorte and Mount Gambier as inspiration. A significant challenge in this structure though is that the goods shed is to be modelled as an “open” building, given its location and proximity to the edge of the layout. The image below gives a taste of what is to come … very exciting!
Shunting at Nankiva can also be a challenge – and again, to some degree this is deliberate. The Victorian Railways were very fond of single and double slips, but in many locations the former proved even more popular than the latter. This is certainly the case at Nankiva on the Border District, where single slips at either end of the yard ensure that shunting isn’t as simple as many would hope it could be. The image below is taken facing to east and shows the single slip located at the entrance to the goods shed road (and oil unloading location beyond), as well as the current limit of ballasting in this location. To the right is the stock siding and SEC timber pole unloading siding, while to the left, the very edge of the platform at Nankiva can be seen.
During the August session, both Craig and Keith operated train that were required to shunt (and in some cases terminate) at Nankiva … and from this I’m confident that the operations here aren’t too hard, but also aren’t too easy. Below, another image of Nankiva can be seen, taken a little further back (and a little lower) than the previous one. The 280hp Walkers railmotor has worked VR TN 29 passenger service from Hamilton, and will “lay over” until the next session, when it will work back to Hamilton as VR TN 28 passenger service. The two images of Nankiva also reveal the “value add” that scenery will (eventually) bring … at least there is some painted and weathered track and ballast here – unlike Tatiara Downs and Jameston!
On matters of Jameston, I confess that there scenic progress here is possibly at its slowest. Yes, a new station building, gangers’ shed, water tower and coal stage have all been added in 2015 (with sincere thanks to Don Bishop) … but I have really stalled in completing the narrow gauge track work and wiring that would allow this entire area to “look” as I imagine it … like Millicent in the 1970s if the narrow gauge had never been removed. While the scenery may be slow, the operations here are possibly the most successful of anywhere on the “District” … three trains per session head down this branch and Iain continues to excel in making Jameston his own!
Finally, I’d again like to thank all those friends who continue to avail themselves of the opportunity to recreate some SAR and VR style 1970s operations one Saturday afternoon each month. It is hard to believe that regular operating session are a reality .. and even more that there have already been seven operating sessions this year! Roll on the September session …