Sunday, 17 August 2014

Where did all the trains go

Noel knows.

Goulburn was once an important rail destination.  A private consortium from the town had raised the capital to build the first railway in Australia - in Sydney.  When finally rail reached Goulburn, on its way to the border with Victoria, plans were made for a magnificent circular locomotive yard, capable of holding 42 locomotives with an extensive maintenance yards engaging up to 600 men.

The basic track infrastructure still exists.  The center-piece - a giant turntable capable of turning laden with a locomotive to any of 42 radiating tracks - is presently worse for ware, having been damaged in an accident a year ago.  but the 42 bays, with recessed working areas, still exist, and house an impressive display of Australian rail.

Sadly, a half of the sheds that once surrounded the turntable was demolished before the display was established.  Hard work by volunteers has maintained the facility and led to a restoration of some of its machinery.

A massive wheel turner - designed to remove metal shoes from engine wheels and allow replacement with new steel tyres.

The locomotive collection is impressive.  Some of the locomotives still run (and are used to shunt equipment and vehicles around the yard) - many have been restored to display state only.

Trains here are described as a series of four numbers.  The 3085 below worked as a Sydney Suburban Train - being built here in 1912.  Older Australians may remember seeing this Engine on suburban lines or working as a tender on country branches.  Now in glorious ruin, awaiting restoration, at Goulburn.

It is possible to get into the locomotives - and, in some cases, under them (through the old maintenance walk ways under the tracks).

In addition to the locomotives, there is an impressive collection of old and ancient carriages and guard vans.

We take so much for granted today, when we rely on our electronic infrastructure to allow us to communicate with ease.

Here a restored mail sorting van - a late breaking innovation allowing mail to be sorted from bicycle-like seats while a train was in motion.  News is that the Australian mail service may be on the point of being privatized or wound down.  I wonder whether these will be pressed back into service in the event of a pulse or solar storm destroying our electronic infrastructure.

My own favorites are the service vehicles - some hand operated.

Noel demonstrating a track tricycle - propelled by hand and foot.

Peter Quinton
August 2014

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