Last issue we reported on the derailment of a coal train at Enfield on 6 January. 8503 was the lead loco of that train and was damaged when it left the rails. As a result of the accident the loco has been set aside.
Also last issue we reported that NR held a ceremony at Port Botany on 22 February to officially name NR56 "Port Botany" and we promised you a photo. Here it is:
Freight Rail has indicated that by June 1998 all electric locomotives in its fleet will be withdrawn. Electric locomotives have been in service with the NSWGR and its descendants for 46 years hauling all classes of train over the steep grades to the west, north and south of Sydney. It is rumoured that Freight Rail is looking to sell the withdrawn locos overseas.
The 82 class, built by Clyde Engineering, saw the introduction of a new standard in cab safety and comfort to NSW locomotives. It is apparent that Freight Rail have been considering the retro-fitting of this type of cab to older locomotives and 4847 was selected to trial a new cab. Unfortunately early in the project Freight Rail stopped the work and the loco appears to have now been set aside. The accompanying photo was taken at Chullora workshops just before work was suspended.
Since the last issue of AMPR Freight Rail have withdrawn the last 3 members of the 442 class. These 1491kW/2000hp Goodwin Alco locomotives entered service between October 1970 and September 1971 and over the years worked on all the mainlines throughout NSW. Withdrawals began in 1994 and 19 were sold at the great locomotive sale that was held at Cardiff in December that year. 44211 was the last of the class to remain in service and was withdrawn after working ballast/work trains over the weekend of 21-22 March.
Quad Alco 48s hauling coal through the Hunter Valley was once a common sight but that appears to be coming to an end. The last mine service by these branchline locomotives is set for closure on 8 May and it is expected that the stockpile will be cleared shortly after. Loco staff at Broadmeadow have been advised that their allotment of 48s will be reduced when the mine closes.
Weather in Australia is unpredictable and it seems to be either drought or flood. In Queensland of late it has been flood and at 0143 on 23 April floodwaters south of Blackwater washed out a section of track just before a fully laden coal train arrived at the scene. Both locomotives and 8 of the 102 wagons on the train were derailed.
The 2 crew members were trapped on the lead loco as the floodwaters rose around them and were not rescued until 0635 when the Capricora rescue helicopter winched the men to safety. The method of rescue was particularly appropriate for Queensland Rail is the helicopter service's major sponsor.
NR's operations continue to produce what was once considered unusual. G518 was scheduled to be part of the motive power for 2PB4 timed to arrive in Brisbane at 2355 on 15 March. It was then scheduled to work as the Acacia Ridge shunter for the next week.
NR has decided to scrap 8001 on site at Acacia Ridge rather than move it to Sydney so yet another Alco bites the dust.
NR has returned a number of C class to service in Victoria. C503 seen elsewhere in this issue is not one of them. Latest reports are that it has been used as a source of spare parts for the other members of the class and now cannot be returned to service.
Emu Bay Railway
The Emu Bay Railway has been sold. On 6 April it was announced that the EBR's owner, Pasminco Metals, had sold the EBR to the Australian Transport Network, operators of Tasrail. For $7.8 million ATN purchased 145km of track, 11 diesel-hydraulic locomotives used for mainline work and 1 diesel-hydraulic shunter. Since the announcement the staff of the EBR have taken industrial action and a number of the operations staff have indicated that they will not work for Tasrail.
The sale is expected to be finalised in early May and the new owners have indicated that they are committed to spending $9 million on upgrading the line. There is a touch of irony in the sale; from the day the construction of what was to become the EBR was announced the Tasmanian government tried to gain control of the railway. It was not until the railways in Tasmania passed out of government control that the EBR was finally integrated into the state system.