Greetings of the season …


Above: A string of VR 4 wheelers are positioned ahead of loading via the vintage timber bins at Southern Aggregates, Border Junction. There will be more than a few shunting moves ahead to get all the wagons loaded …

Best wishes to everyone for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you to all those for their continued interest and input into the Border District … and its progress (slow as it might be at times …)!


November 2016 operating session


Better late than never … maybe? While it is getting deep into December, below is a brief account of the November 2016 operating session held on the Border District – the eleventh and final session for 2016. Many thanks to Mark and Shelton for providing the images for this blog post.

In the image above, Mark has captured an interesting view at Tatiara Downs loco, with the SAR carriages to form Train Number 166 currently laying over next to the coal stage. Darren will run this train a little later in the session. Below, Shelton has had time to step off his train (VR TN 89 Goods from Portland to Tatiara Downs) at Border Junction, while waiting for a clear signal to head to TN 89’s final destination. Perhaps the yard is a bit busy ahead …



With a few apologies received, a crew of six worked the Border District in November. Shelton and Craig had the VR crew jobs, Darren took the SAR branch role, Iain took on Tatiara Downs Yard Master duties and Mark worked both the other SAR crew gig and also hostled at Tatiara Downs loco. As usual, I took on Train Control and generally tried to boss the team around …

Above, Mark has again shown his knack for capturing unique aspects and images of the Border District … a very different view of the loco area at Tatiara Downs shows a collection of motive power in residence. Also in view are some oil pots and a VR guard’s van … the shunter must be hard at work! In the foreground is the soon to be ballasted mainline from Tatiara Downs to Kybybolite. In the image below, Shelton has recorded VR TN 261 Goods passing through Nankiva … B67 is at the head of this working and has graciously dipped the headlight to pass through the station!



November saw the 02:00 to 14:00 session undertaken – with the usual “tweaks” made for previous learnings employed. As in October, it was great to again see operators get to take on roles they hadn’t done before, or hadn’t done for some time. Craig and Shelton managed the VR side of things well (with Craig even working an additional Jet across the entire layout), Mark was very comfortable both out on the main and hostling at the loco, Darren did a great job in his first time on the Jameston gig and Iain handled Tatiara Downs well, without the support or presence of Brendan … but more on that a little later!

In the scene above, it would appear that the VR is poised for a takeover of Tatiara Downs, with at least three blue and gold locos in attendance and on shed … a Y, a second series X and a third series X. Below, Iain handled the Tatiara Downs gig fairly well without the “king” – Brendan – to assist … but also found a way during the session to add himself to Border District folklore, managing to balance his shunt engine – SAR 836 – with no wheels on the track at all! At last we now have a “doing an Iain …”! Both images with thanks to Mark.



Shunting incidents and accidents aside, the session was another great one … a fantastic way to finish off 2016. Eleven sessions have been conducted this year and my thanks as always go to those friends that visit the “District” each month … local knowledge and operations both continue to evolve, and a good time is had by all. Over the past two years, there have been twenty-two operating sessions on the Border District … and I look forward to them continuing in 2017 (and beyond).

One continued “evolution” on the Border District in 2016 has been the focus on a more immersive approach to operations … slowing things down and thinking/acting like the real thing. The images above and below, again courtesy of Mark, depict an example of one way in which this is being attempted. Craig is in charge of double flattop Ts, loading grain at Nankiva to head to Portland for eventual export. This working is assisted by an “operations” card at Nankiva that explains how the grain is to be loaded – time taken, how many wagons, etc. I look forward to more of this focus in 2017 …