Another Northern operating session …

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Above: Alco power – a 442 and 44 – combine to lift Train Number 15 (the down northern paper train) through the Cougal Spiral, bound for Brisbane. The scene above was taken at the most recent operating session on Craig’s “Cassino” layout. Some recent superelevation of track is evident in this image …

While the holidays have seen limited progress on the Border District … I’m blaming a combination of hot and humid weather, limited inclination and a fairly significant tidy up of the layout room (more so the storage underneath) … I did manage to make it to one of two operating sessions held between Christmas and New Year on Craig’s layout, the triple decked extravaganza that is “Cassino”!

Craig offered two sessions, which was pretty generous and convenient given the usual family and other commitments that this time of the year can bring. While I missed the “day after Boxing Day” run, I did manage to make it to the session held on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. Five other operators and the host meant crew size was a “lucky seven”.

Below: Another Alco (it is the NSWR) – another 44 (there were 100 of them!) – heads one of the first trains I ran in the session – Train Number 50 up empty oil. This train included a number of interesting shunts along the way – and also included a recently received SDS Models “GS” gas tanker. I really like this bridge scene – just south of Casino.

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Above: A 48 heads a short loaded stock train from Kyogle, headed south for the markets no doubt. It can be seen here passing through the Nammoona Ballast Siding, where the impact that photo backdrops can bring – in particular in adding depth to a scene – is on show. The white foam at the front and back of the Alco isn’t snow as a nod to the season – nor was the 48 a Christmas present hurriedly added to the layout – I think 4894 has been so adorned every session I have attended!

Seven operators meant six drivers, with Arthur very quickly “assuming the position” as North Coast Train Control. As is the case with any session I have attended, Arthur more than rose to the task … even when the radios gave out about two thirds of the way through the session, meaning everyone resorted to shouting at him to seek authority to keep moving!

The timetable for the session offered the second twelve hour trick on the North Coast – and combined with the other session, this meant running a full 24 hours worth of trains over “Cassino” across the two days. While a fast clock was in use, it was rarely referred to, as the number of drivers meant that both trains and times could be “way out”. Despite this, all involved enjoyed themselves and all operations were completed well ahead of the scheduled end time for the session!

Below: A scene that helps give an indication of the scale of Craig’s layout – Train Number 17 (down container train from Sydney) has taken the loop at Glenapp, awaiting a cross with the southbound Brisbane Limited (NL2) – which may or may not be a tad on the late side, on account of rollingstock issues! On the lower deck is the same bridge from the second image on this blogpost. Out of shot, Clapham yard sits above Glenapp on the third level … wow!

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Above: The host and owner of “Cassino” – Mr Mackie himself! The hospitality – cold water and beers in particular – was certainly appreciated, with the mercury hovering above 37 degrees for the better part of the afternoon. Of course, Craig looks after his crew and the shed was cool and pleasant, with thanks to the air conditioning being cranked for the session.

Craig has made some clear progress adding some scenic elements since my last visit – but in his own estimations, there are at least another ten years of work ahead on “Cassino” in this department! Thanks again Craig – trips to “Cassino” are always enjoyable adventures where you really can be immersed in driving a train a significant distance … contrasting completely with operations on my positively diminutive layout (by comparison)!

As well, the session made for a great way to see out 2016. To read more detailed accounts of this session, view more pictures and get a sense of just how much “fun” running trains on a big layout can be, you can head to both Craig’s blog and Shelton’s blog

Below: Topping and tailing this post – another view of Train Number 15 – this time passing through Border Loop. Unfortunately, the train has obscured the view of some of Craig’s recent scenicking efforts – including a fettlers’ camp and associated paraphernalia. 

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