March 2016 operating session

S315 and the coal stage

Above: VR bulldog S315 peeks out from behind the coal stage at Tatiara Downs.

The third operating session on the Border District for 2016 saw a second crack at the recently revised 14:00 to 02:00 timetable. The first attempt was undertaken in January of this year, and the session was impacted by some erroneous paperwork. Seven brave souls fronted for the March session, and in a “twist”, were invited to bid on roles ahead of the day. The host once again failed to record any photographic evidence of the session (not, I repeat not, a strategy to protect operators from being “caught out”!) – so once again, images in this blog post are provided courtesy of Mark.

Y169 waits

Above: VR Y169 waits “on shed” to be called up – to work VR TN 18 roadside goods to Nankiva and points east.

Some operators stuck with roles they were familiar with, such as Iain as the SAR “branch” crew and Brendan as the Tatiara Downs shunter. Some operators gave something new a tilt, such as Paul on a different VR crew gig to his previous session, Geoff also on a VR crew job (but returning to the “District” for the first time in 12 months), Shelton as the SAR mainline crew and VR Train Controller (in Craig’s absence) and Mark in the newly created and first time implemented “Tatiara Downs hostler” role (hence the topic of images in this blog post). I floated between Tatiara Downs Yard Master, Train Control, general advice giver/educator … and also got to run the “Stonie” (Jack of all trades, master of none?!).

Tatiara line up 2

Above: VR power dominates the loco at Tatiara Downs, with examples of the S, X and C classes on shed. The C class, in the foreground, had earlier arrive on VR TN 383 Jet and has already been turned, ahead of being refuelled. VR TN 383 then becomes SAR TN 82 and can be seen in the background, with a single 930 on the point, just behind the C class – soon to get underway for Adelaide.

The change in roles for some, and addition of a new role, saw longer than usual to get things settled and into a groove. However, the session was, as always, very enjoyable! One of the highlights for me was to watch the “mess”that was created at times be sorted out – by others who continue to increase their knowledge and understanding of the layout and how to operate it. It was also great to hear from Geoff, nearly a year after last operating, that the ABLO card system and operating paperwork/aids all “worked” to make his tasks understandable – great feedback and reinforcement that the continued evolution of the layout, operations and systems are all moving in the right direction.

Bulldogs on shed

Above: VR bulldog domination! S315, S311 and S306 outnumber the lone SAR representative – English Electric 907 – on shed at Tatiara Downs.

Once again, paperwork errors provide a small “let down” – two waybills that were not rotated before the session causing a degree of head scratching and consternation – my apologies to Brendan and Geoff. However, paperwork issues were far less and much reduced compared to the previous two sessions of 2016. Again, my sincere thanks to all those who participated – we managed to completed a very successful and enjoyable session, undertaking 32 of 34 planned workings (SAR TNs 487 and 134 are “W.N.” – “when needed” – and it was decided earlier that they were not needed!). Thanks to: Geoff and Paul – who continue to grow their “local knowledge”; Shelton and Mark for trying something new/different and giving me plenty to ponder in terms of further development; and Iain and Brendan, who have each “sewn up” their respective roles through continued application and effort. Well done team – a great afternoon.

Still full

Above: The session is nearly done as SAR TN 835 / VR TN 834 “The Overland” waits in the platform at Tatiara Downs (background). SAR Alcos 932 and 931 (centre) have brought the crack interstate overnight express train in from Adelaide, and have already headed to the loco for refuelling. The VR consist in the foreground will form the early morning passenger out of Tatiara Downs in the next session.