Monday, September 26, 2011

The following details were kindly contributed by Peter Neve.

Yes, it was a tour - one week before the end of steam on the Singleton passenger service. The date was 18/07/1971 and the location was Cessnock station.

What makes it of particular interest and unique was that it was the operation of a tender-type locomotive on a passenger train on the branch. It was the lack of a turntable at Cessnock that "prevented" the use of tender locomotives during the period when the NSWGR operated the passenger services over the line. In fact, when the through-running "Cessnock Express" was introduced, the train's loaded weight was slightly over the allowable for the normal 30 class tank engine, so several were modified to operate at 15-lbs psi boiler pressure higher than standard, in order to haul the excess tonnage. This was later found to be a theoretical requirement, as the 30 class were able to handle the heavier theoretical load without problem. Particularly as the theoretical load would have had every seat occupied when the train traversed the ruling grade, and this would certainly not have been the case! If, however, an additional carriage was being conveyed through to Cessnock (instead of being detached with the change of locomotives in the down direction at Waratah), then a 32 class (fitted with a six-wheel tender) would be used. But this meant that the 32 class had to run tender-first light engine back from Cessnock to Maitland, to turn on the 50-ft turntable, then light engine tender-first again back to Cessnock, prior to stabling overnight for the following morning's return passenger working.

Yes, there were periods when tender locomotives operated coal trains over the branch; once back in the 1950s (I think) when floods closed the regular route through Maitland and NSWGR 50 class worked over the Richmond Vale Railway to Weston and the SMR. During a later period, RVR 2-8-0s filled in for 10 class for a while. I don't have photos of either, but I trust that Brian Andrews will find some for his book on the line.

Prior to the big Carriage Shed fire, SMR-hauled passenger trains operated into (West) Maitland station - hence the additional platforms there. The Operating Agreement was not terminated when the NSWGR took over after the fire ... and this also came in handy when SMR introduced its own railcars in, from memory, 1961. It was on the rare occasion of an enthusiasts tour that SMR steam worked into Maitland station in the latter years, such as for an ARHS tour to Weston on 10/08/1968 when I caught SMR.31 being passed by a diesel-hauled goods train.




1 comment:

ken Wallwork said...

In the early 60s I travelled from Abermain to Caledonia for Cessnock High. I remember on 2 or 3 occasions we had a 32 pulling the school train. Being boys we were required to travel in the first carriage and we noticed the flexing of the rails under these engines. I don't remember what happened on return trips but assumed they ran tender first back to Maitland.
We were excited to have a Rolls Royce for a couple of years.