May 2017 operating session (Part 3 – Jameston images)

JAM 263

Moving back over the border and into South Australia, the third set of images from the most recent operating session on the Border District are all from the branch line terminus location of Jameston. Inspiration here is drawn from a combination of the actual towns of Millicent and Kingston in the south east, as well as Jamestown in the north of the state.

Jameston’s biggest “reason for being” is the Apcel Paper Mill, located at the western end of the town (and taking cues from the actual location of Snuggery). Above, one of two trains that work the mill each weekday – South Australian Railways Train Number 263 Goods (returning as SAR TN 264 Goods) – can be seen shunting out empty Victorian Railways’ open wagons and replacing them with ones loaded with briquettes (used as source of fuel to power the mill). The working also includes swapping empty louvre vans for ones loaded with toilet paper and other paper products. SAR TN 264 Goods will hand over the empty briquette opens and loaded paper vans at Tatiara Downs. From here, they will be worked back to Melbourne on Victorian Railways TN 90 Goods.

JAM station

Facing the opposite way to the lead image but taken not long after, the station, yard and other industries at Jameston can be seen in the above picture. The orange workers’ sleeper in the centre of the image is being worked backed on SAR TN 264 Goods “inside” the Goods Brake – not surprisingly provided today by the ubiquitous 8300 van. Iain has already collected the sleeping van from the carriage siding and is clearly paying equal attention to both breaking up SAR TN 263 Goods and making up SAR TN 264 Goods.

Below, it is action a plenty at Jameston, with not one but two trains … yes, this doesn’t happen that often! A single Bluebird railcar (255 – “Curlew” – with thanks to the amazing Peter Carter!) is working SAR TN 541 Passenger service as it arrives at Jameston, while English Electric 907 waits at the head of the loaded SAR TN 582 Stonie for Osborne/Port Adelaide. The handful of passengers on the Bluebird will endure the ground level platform and dual gauge tracks here, before the railcar works back to Tatiara Downs and Naracoorte as SAR TN 542 Passenger. Upon arrival at Naracoorte, the single 250 railcar will join with the 250 railcar and 100 trailer combination from Mount Gambier, before continuing to Adelaide. It would appear that the photographer hasn’t been as quick on the shutter as he would have liked, with there being no “gap” between the Bluebird and 900 …

JAM 542

May 2017 operating session (Part 2 – Nankiva images)

NAN 89 and 241

After focussing on images captured around Border Junction in the first blog post from the May 2017 session, we now head “over the border” to Victoria and the small but important rail served town of Nankiva.

In the image above, Jeff has brought his first ever working on the Border District – Victorian Railways Train Number 89 Goods – to a stand in the loop at Nankiva. Not too long after having had the B class bring this train to a halt, double S class diesels can be seen barreling through on the mainline at the head of the Overland (VR Train Number 241), Adelaide bound. Once the crack overnight express has passed, Jeff can go about shunting here (drop off one, pick up one) before also continuing westwards …

NAN 12

Seen above a little later in the session, the two S class diesels have been captured on film again, but this time working VR Train Number 12 BONA (light engines and van) back eastwards. It is 1976 and the VR are very, very frugal with their motive power – long layovers at far flung locations were not on! This working replicates the prototype, where the locomotives from the westbound Overland would often work as light engines back to Dimboola to haul the next morning’s eastbound passenger service to Melbourne. The Ss in the images below have a “green over red” clear normal speed indication on the departure signal as they leave Nankiva, heading towards Edenhope.

NAN 339

Above, on the eastern outskirts of Nankiva, newish VR power in the form of X45 can be seen bringing VR Train Number 339 Jet Goods upgrade and under the signal gantry (the work of Nick Lapthorne – thanks Nick!) with a decent load in tow. Usually, VR TN 339 would cross the previously depicted VR TN 12 light engines and van working here … but the often experienced delays on the western line see the Jet well behind its “normal” operating time on this day! After passing through Nankiva and Border Junction, the Jet will swap the VR loco for a South Australian one at Tatiara Downs, before continuing west to Kybybolite … and eventually Adelaide.

May 2017 operating session (Part 1 – Border Junction images)

BJN 582

The May 2017 operating session on the Border District was the first in two months, a line having been ruled through the planned April session as it coincided with the Easter long weekend. The time without operations was put to good use though – Brendan accepted the position of Border District C.S.E. (Chief Signalling Engineer) and the “March to May” period saw all control panels, signals, points and interlocking at Tatiara Downs rethought, rewired and improved across a number of “signal working bees”. Indeed, the underneath of this section of the layout is now immaculate, exceptionally tidy and something to behold, rather than an eyesore and bird’s nest of wires! A big, big thanks to Brendan for his time and effort – it was great to see the hard work pay off during the May session, particularly with yellow signal aspects appearing clearly as yellow, rather than “shades of red” as had been the case in the past!

A slightly different approach has been taken for blogpost recounts of the most recent May session – with all images in a post focussing on one particular area of the layout. For this first post, the hamlet of Border Junction and surrounds is the centre of attention – which also includes the significant industry of “Southern Aggregates”. In the lead image above, a bird’s eye view (or drone … though probably not in 1976?) gives a slightly different perspective of “loading the Stonie” at Southern Aggregates. Below, Victorian Railways X45 stretches Train Number 339 Jet Goods out through the curve from Border Junction, not too far from Tatiara Downs and handover to South Australian Railways’ power.

BJN 339

BJN 905

While the April operating session was postponed/cancelled due to Easter, the May session could have gone the same way. Dates for operating sessions were set at the beginning of the year and I hadn’t noted the May session coinciding with the “Modelling the Railways of NSW” convention in Sydney, to which several operators were heading. Additionally, a number of other operators tendered apologies due to work, play and/or travel plans. However, a crew of four participated in a session that was about quality, not quantity! Regulars Brendan and Iain took on their “favourite” Tatiara Downs Station Master and SAR Crew 1 roles respectively, first timer Jeff took on the VR crew 1 gig (and did a great job of quickly grasping both the role and how the layout as a whole operates) and I grabbed a combination of Train Control and the best bits from both the SAR crew 2 and VR crew 2 jobs.

In the image above, SAR branch line power in the form of 858 has paused at the platform at Border Junction, heading  a “replacement set” of carriages working a connection from the South East Overnight passenger (Train Number 905). The lead louvre van (grey DS) will be shunted to the goods shed at Jameston before the mustard pot Alco brings the green and cream consist back through Tatiara Downs and on to Kybybolite. Below is another aerial view of the Southern Aggregates facility, with 907 going about loading SAR Train Number 582 “Stonie”. The two tracks and operating limitations here make getting nine hoppers loaded a challenging but enjoyable task!

BJN 581

BJN 263

The May session trialled the most recent revision of the “am” timetable … and while I am probably biased, I feel this is proved to be the best yet, with a good mix and balance between prototypical accuracy and interesting operations that weren’t overly complicated or confusing. With a small crew (and a mix of experienced heads and a new operator) it was great to see a focus on taking time, working together and doing things right – including the resetting of signals and points upon passing … and the checking of card cards and consists to ensure they matched up. The session was relaxed and enjoyable … thanks to Jeff, Iain and Brendan for being a part of it!

Above, SAR 956 Alco, with the short lived “blood nose” austerity paint scheme on show, has been captured on film passing Southern Aggregates at the head of SAR Train Number 263 Goods for Jameston. Below – in the background/top of image – B67 can be seen heading from left to right as it leads VR Train Number 90 Goods out of Tatiara Downs towards Border Junction. In the foreground and heading from right to left, B85 leads VR Train Number 25 Passenger – supposedly miles away in the “Edenhope to Nankiva” section. Images from Nankiva, and also Jameston, will feature in the next blog post …

NAN 25