Four of the best … Iain

Following on from the previous blog post, here are four images captured by Iain at the November 2015 operating session on the Border District. Again, my thanks to Iain for taking the time and effort to record a few workings … while driving, shunting and shuffling ABLO cards, no less …

Jam loco and van

In the image above, Iain has captured SAR English Electric 907 undertaking some shunting at Jameston, having worked SAR TN 147 from Tatiara Downs. This working seeks to replicate the “real life” 1970s Naracoorte to Kingston goods, also SAR TN 147. As well as breaking up SAR TN 147, 907 will go about making up the return working – SAR TN 148. In this scene, the 900 class has taken the 8300 van off the train and is positioning it out of harm’s way …

Tat stock

The quiet afternoon can be felt in the above shot, taken by the stockyards at Tatiara Downs. Iain has become somewhat renowned for getting the “Jameston” gig, spending most of his time at the brach station and narrow gauge interchange … so it is great to see he was able to capture an image from another location on the Border District!

Jam stonie

A busy few minutes at Jameston! Above, it would appear the Train Controller has “gotten it wrong”, allowing SAR Alco 956 (foreground) on SAR TN 185, the empty “Paper Jet” to head down the branch before SAR TN 583A “Stonie” (background, with 965 – another Alco – at the head). The reason for the error – there was no Train Controller for the session! Not to worry though … once SAR TN 583A is in the clear in the yard, 956 will push the consist of SAR TN 185 back out onto the branch and clear of the signal. This will then allow 965 to swap the Goods Brake to the other end of the loaded stone hoppers, return to the front and “do the brakes”. 956 will then be able to bring the empty “Paper Jet” back into the yard, clearing the main for 965 and SAR TN 584 “Stonie” to depart for Port Adelaide. Simples …

Jam paper

The session is nearly done as 956 can be seen on the point of the loaded “Paper Jet” – SAR TN 186 – again at Jameston. The “Paper Jets”, TNs 185 and 186, represent some of the most difficult shunting at Jameston – in terms of number of sidings to be worked and the physical size of trains. Empty box and louvre vans are brought in for paper loading at the Apcel Mill, while soda ash and pulp paper also arrive, with wagons returning empty. A range of wagons loaded with paper for Adelaide, Perth and Sydney can be seen immediately behind the loco. 956 will soon depart for Border Junction, to cross the eastbound “Overland”, before continuing at pace westwards …


Four of the best … Mark

As promised and threatened, here are some more images captured at last weekend’s November 2015 operating session on the Border District. Thanks to Border District stalwart Mark for sharing these …

Tat shunting

In the image above, it is late afternoon as B67 arrives at Tatiara Downs with VR TN 313 Goods. This train includes loading for Tatiara Downs, but also conveys traffic to worked into South Australia on SAR TN 312 Roadside Goods to Tailem Bend. The Y class waits patiently to assist in breaking up VR TN 313 and making up SAR TN 312. The B class will return east later in  the session at the head of VR TN 880 Goods. This image illustrates the impact weathering has … compare the Y to just about every other piece of rolling stock in this image!

Nan shunting

Heading east from the first image, a VR T class is captured above positioning grain wagons for loading at Nankiva. The loco has worked into the far western Victorian hamlet of Nankiva at the head of VR TN 7 Goods, and will return on VR TN 102 Goods. It appears to have been a successful shunt, as the consist for VR TN 102 can be seen in the background – including a number of louvre vans loaded with vegetables from the Edenhope Valley Growers’ Co-operative, trailed by a 4 wheeled Z van.

Nan cross

Captured little later again at Nankiva, things have continued to be busy – as is often the case in the early evening on the Border District! The most powerful diesel owned by the VR at the time, a C class, waits patiently at the head of VR TN 383 Jet for Adelaide, allowing a late running VR TN 63 Passenger (lead by a B class) to Tatiara Downs to access the platform and overtake. It won’t be too long until VR TN 383 catches up to VR TN 63 again at Tatiara Downs …

Bjn stonie

Heading west a little from Nankiva, Mark has captured SAR TN 584 Loaded “Stonie”, working hard upgrade behind SAR Alco 965, arriving at Border Junction. The mainline to Victoria can be seen in the foreground. This train commenced not far away from this location – at the Southern Aggregates loading siding – but once fully loaded heads down to Jameston (as SAR TN 583A) to correctly position the Goods Brake (guard’s van) at the trailing end. The reason … there are no run around facilities at either Border Junction or Southern Aggregates.

Thanks again to Mark for sharing some photographic viewpoints from the session. For the next post … four of the best from Iain.

Some more images from the November 2015 operating session …

With thanks to Mark and Iain, there was a good degree of railfan photography action, as well as operation, at the most recent session on the Border District. Both Mark and Iain have captured and forwarded some cracker shots … which I’ll share over a few blog posts (thanks guys). Below are just a couple of pics to get things started …

Bjn Overland

The first image, above, was taken by Mark towards the end of the session and captures the “Overland” as it travels east from Tatiara Downs to Melbourne. The train, hauled by back to back VR S class diesels, is approaching Border Junction. In the background, the impressive “Southern Aggregates” complex can be seen, which processes and loads stone for the Border District’s own “Stonie”. The foreground represents the staging area of Edenhope (Victoria) – this train’s destination, and Kybybolite (South Australia) – from where this train originated, headed by SAR locos. I really like this shot … it shows just how good things will look once someone gets serious about scenery completion!

Jam 147 arrives

The second image, again above, was taken by Iain a little earlier in the session at the South Australian branch station/terminus of Jameston – which is also a dual gauge interchange for the narrow gauge line to Beachport. SAR English Electric 907 is at the head of SAR TN 147 goods from Tatiara Downs. In the background the “not yet built” Apcel Paper Mill can be seen (just a collection of boxes, card and timber at present!) – a significant source of traffic and a reason for the continued survival of the branch. I also really like this shot … Iain has captured an angle not often seen or viewed.

November 2015 operating session


The Border District seeks to represent and recreate the railways in western Victoria and south eastern South Australia as they were in the summer of 1976-1977. How appropriate then that the tenth operating session on the “District” for 2015 was undertaken on a very, very warm Saturday afternoon, akin to many of the days in that season of 76-77! Fortunately, the passengers travelling in the train as captured in the above image are enjoying the air-conditioned comfort that the “Overland” provided …

The usual “third Saturday of the month” for the session brought about a few issues in November … the biggest being a clash with the Branchline Modellers Forum, held in Coffs Harbour the same weekend. As a result of this … and some other commitments, distractions and priorities … the crew size was the smallest yet for an operating session this year – three! Mark and Iain joined myself, and after a brief period of pondering how to proceed with a session usually planned for four or five people, we decided to do away with both the “Train Control” and “Tatiara Downs Station Master/Head Shunter” positions. Doing away with the former has happened often, with the most common crew size this year being four … but a session has never been attempted with no one manning the main station of Tatiara Downs! That said, we were keen to give it a crack, resolving to share shunting duties across the three of us.


The image above of Tatiara Downs reveals that this plan, in general, worked a treat … Mark has nearly completed breaking up SAR TN 87 (the roadside goods from Tailem Bend to Tatiara Downs), which included making up SAR TN 147 goods from Tatiara Downs to Jameston – seen with SAR English Electric 907 at the head in the foreground. Creeping into the station in the background, with headlight blazing, is SAR TN 281 passenger to Jameston. Iain is at the controls of SAR “Big Mikado” 730 and, after a brief station stop, will continue down the branch – with SAR TN 147 to follow later in the session.

No Station Master or Head Shunter made for plenty of shunting for everyone … but all three of us are equally happy running and shunting trains, so all was good! No Train Control meant throwing signals and points ourselves … and in many cases throwing them for the next movement after your own. Comment was made after the session that the signalling and safeworking seemed to be the “best” of any session yet … but we would be biased, I guess?! Or maybe it was a case of the fewer the operators, the fewer the mistakes …


The session was very enjoyable, but was still not without a challenge or two (a good thing). Above, VR TN 29, the roadside goods from Ararat to Tatiara Downs with VR T377 at the head (background), has been held outside the arrival signal due to some congestion in the yard. Two other VR locos, B75 and Y169, are busily breaking up and making up trains … and seeking to create some space for VR TN 29 to join in the fun!

The image below shows more of this congestion, much later in the session. Also showing good use of correct signal aspects with a “clear medium speed” departure, B67 hauls VR TN 880 fast goods away from Tatiara Downs, Melbourne bound. SAR 907 has returned from working SAR TN 147 and SAR TN 148 goods down and back the branch and has shunted a few wagons into the industrial sidings (left foreground). VR B85 has worked VR TN 63 passenger from Melbourne and is shunting the carriages (right background, with the carriages out of shot) to the dock platform for the return working next morning.


The session saw the 14:00 to 02:00 timetable undertaken and despite the small number of operators (quality not quantity, it was decided!), a 6:1 fast clock was also in operation along with the usual “sequence” cards … just for interest. This was somewhat ambitious, given no Head Shunter to help at Tatiara Downs, but as it turned out we only ran over time by about two hours … not too shabby at all.

Another “plus” for the session was the photographic coverage provided, with all there operators often sighted with a throttle in one hand and a smartphone with camera in the other! Even the host got in on the act, as evidenced by the images in this post – something I often struggle to do. Below, the shortest train of the session – VR TN 18 roadside goods from Tatiara Downs to Ararat – can be seen at Nankiva, having just dropped off a bogie louvre van to the vegetable siding (out of shot in the background) and an empty GY to the silo (foreground). This little train will then continue east – just a T class, two 4 wheelers and a guard’s van …


As well a little trains, the session also saw a goodly amount of “big” trains – two “Jets” (express goods trains between Melbourne and Adelaide, and vice versa), a block grain train, the “Paper Jet” to and from the mill at Jameston and the “Overland” – the crack overnight express train between the capital cities of Victoria and South Australia.

The two images below capture these last mentioned workings … the first is of the rear of the “Overland” as it departs Tatiara Downs and heads east for Melbourne as VR TN 834, having exchanged two SAR 930 class Alco diesels for two VR S class streamliners …


… while the second image captures SAR TN 186 – the Jameston to Adelaide “Paper Jet” – working up the grade from Jameston and passing through the small halt of Border Junction. The track immediately to the right of the train is the mainline to Victoria (traversed by the “Overland” only a few minutes earlier), while further right is the staging area that represents all those “off layout” destinations and locations.


I’ll conclude this post with a big thanks to both Mark and Iain for braving the hot day and contributing to a great session … very efficient and very enjoyable! Now, back to that air-conditioning in the “Overland”, the very epitome of cool and comfort, as it can be seen speeding through Nankiva, heading eastwards and Melbourne bound …