February 2016 operating session

The second operating session of the year saw the chance to undertake the revised 02:00 – 14:00 timetable for the first time, which involved thirty-two train movements across  Victorian Railways and/or South Australian Railways metals.

As for the January session, crew size was six … a number that works well with the new timetable and the spread of operations and roles. Mark and Darren each took on the Victorian Railways operator roles (although Mark did also get to run SAR TN 905 passenger down the branch – timetabling didn’t allow this working to fall to a South Australian driver). Iain and Craig took on the South Australian operator roles – with Craig once again also undertaking the Victorian Train Controller job (included as part of the role, given the majority of his SAR workings are in the very short “Kybybolite – Tatiara Downs” section). Brendan suited up for the head shunter gig at Tatiara Downs again, while I took on the station master/yard master/hostler role at Tatiara Downs.

While the session ran quite well (thanks to all present!), with a new timetable comes new paperwork and some errors were encountered along the way … showing my “rush” to get things ready and not double checking information. However, this is what operating sessions early in a layout’s life are for … identifying and problems and ironing out issues. My sincere appreciation to the crew for their patience … and willingness to assist in ensuring the layout and operations continue to improve.

As is now standard, I didn’t take a single photo during the session … but thanks to Mark, below are a few images he captured during the afternoon …


Above, new Border District motive power acquisition … in the form of South Australian Railways Alco 858 … can be seen having just brought SAR TN 851 into Tatiara Downs from Tailem Bend. Victorian Railways C508 is heading out of loco to attach to VR TN 954 (visible in Road 1, just behind 858 and train) to head east. This image shows not just how “busy” Tatiara Downs can be, but also the difference that weathering makes to adding realism!


The above image demonstrates that Tatiara Downs isn’t the only hotbed of operation on the Border District! In a busy moment at Nankiva, T377 sits at the head of VR TN 62 in Road 2 … waiting the passage of VR TN P1, the down empty grain from Portland, which can be seen in Road 1. In the sidings in the foreground, grain and livestock vehicles can be seen. The T and train will soon received a “red over green” signal aspect and get underway, Edenhope bound …


Above, the now “pride of Tatiara Downs”, SAR English Electric shunter 513 and brake tender, can be seen pausing between tasks. The model is an “End Of The Line/Strath” offering, but with a Proto S1 mechanism underneath (the give away being the incorrect bogie sideframes … yes, correct ones are on the “to do” list!). While this loco isn’t quite finished, its employ at Tatiara Downs has made the station feel so much more “SAR-like”.


The above image catches Victorian Railways X45 working at speed through the curve at the eastern end of Nankiva, at the head of VR TN 262. In the background, VR TN P2 can be seen in the yard, collecting loaded grain wagons . Once this task is completed, VR TN P2 will follow VR TN 262 eastbound.