June 2016 operating session

Jameston 1

The above image captures the quiet morning at Jameston and the general emptiness at the edge of a rural township …

The “half way mark” of the 2016 operations calendar on the Border District has been reached, with the completion of the June session. Several of the crew tendered their apologies – many well ahead of the session – and crew size ended up being five, with probably the five most “regular” regulars in attendance. Roles stayed similar to those of the May session: Mark (mainly) on the branch, Brendan at Tatiara Downs, Iain and Craig as mainline crews and myself as general “gopher”. Despite this role, I once again failed to manage too many pictures of the general goings-on … so once again credit for pictorial recording of the session goes to Mark!

A new operational “device” was trialled for the June session – the use of “Weekly Notices” (or WNs) to inform the crew of changes to operations. As well as replicating what railways actually did, this also saves me in terms of the constant redesigning and reprinting of train graphs, station timetables and operator “sequence cards” that are all utilised in a session. Information provided in the WNs included the cancellation of a few trains, running of an additional train and some changed requirements for a few trains, such as later departure times or modified workings. The feedback on the WNs was very positive and they will certainly help assist with limiting the reorganisation sometimes required between sessions.

Jameston 4

Above, 858 sits at Jameston, in charge of the soon to depart SAR TN 264. This working to Tatiara Downs is made up solely of loading to continue eastwards to Melbourne and includes louvre vans loaded with paper from the Apcel Mill, hoppers loaded with sand, and empty open wagons that conveyed briquettes to the mill. The train will continue east from Tatiara Downs as VR TN 262, with a Victorian loco at the head.

In general, the June session was a success – possibly the most successful session to date. One reason for this is probably the increased experience of the crew present … those in attendance were the most “regular” in terms of miles/time on the Border District. Of course, the session wasn’t without a few issues … including a few mechanical and electrical dramas (one hinged under track uncoupler failed – unable to be repaired, one dowel thrown point lost its piano wire actuator – found and repaired during the session, two signals struggled to display their aspects – probably a result of a short circuit in the signal wiring logic somewhere).

Once again, my thanks to those friends that give up their Saturday afternoon to put the Border District through its paces. It is increasingly rewarding to watch as signals and points are set and reset, car and sequence cards are read and understood and, for 99% of the time, everything seems to go as planned! I may even have joked that for the July session, I’ll simply unlock the door and everyone can look after themselves – deserved praise for a crew who continue to grow with the layout and operations.

Border Junction

Above, the 8300 van trialling SAR TN 152 goods can be seen handling the “take outs” at Border Junction …


… and a few more shots.

Operating sessions on the Border District have seen some of the crew combine their focus on operations with a touch of “gunzelling” at times. It is always great to get images after each session, so here are just a few more … with thanks again to Mark.


Above is an overall shot of the South Australian branch station of Jameston, as viewed from the terminus end. This location takes inspiration from both Kingston and Millicent. The wooden, ground level station and barrel roof goods shed – very “SAR” – are both prominent, as is the dual gauge trackage in the yard. To the right is the long siding that serves multiple industries. In the distance is the Apcel Paper Mill, hosting a colourful array of vans from the SAR, VR, NSWGR and WAGR to be loaded with paper before heading west, east or north. The line to Border Junction can be seen next to the mill, curving to the left as it winds past the “Beachport Sand Company” loading and transhipping facilities.

Below is another image of the industrial area to the west of Tatiara Downs. The Head Shunter has done a ripper job this session – with the recently arrive VR “L” sheep wagons being placed behind the SAR cattle vans. The two tracks behind the livestock facility serve the farmers’ co-operative here, with one track to have an unloading bank (for vans) and shed, and the other to have an overhead crane (to assist with open/flat wagon loading and unloading). The OBf and OB wagons closer to the foreground are sitting on a fertiliser unloading siding, whereas the ones in the background are at the Tatiara District Milling Company’s facility (located on the other side of the main line).

Tatiara Downs


The next two images capture the scene in the staging area of the layout.  Here, a “through” design has been employed, with the Victorian (or eastern) end known as Edenhope, and the South Australian (or western) end known as Kybybolite. Above, a ridiculously clean Alco 858 is at the head of a very short grain train – which is equally ridiculously clean! In the foreground are the loaded HS hoppers from the recently arrived “Stonie”, while the double 930s just behind the grain train will soon work the “Overland”.

Below, things are a little less “SAR” and a whole lot more “VR” … front and centre is the Walkers 280HP railmotor that provides service for a number of passenger operations in the area. The sidings to the right are occupied by a number of short VR goods trains – typical of what runs over the “District”.  As well as eight “through” roads, there are also ten “stub ended” tracks in staging … however these all seem to continue to prove that too much staging is never enough!