The planned change to single grain train working on Eyre Peninsula took effect today. Instead of two rakes of 54 hoppers, now only one train of 64 hoppers is being scheduled. Up to now the workings have been on a consistent 24-hour cycle, but the one train now running will be worked more intensively so that the total tonnage moved by rail is not reduced. That will involve more days with two return runs to Cummins, and also breaking away from the 24-hour cycle. From a railfan point of view that makes services less predictable, of course. The other visible difference is that the HBN dual-service ballast/grain hoppers have now been removed from grain traffic. Trains will now include only HAN and HCN hoppers.
Yesterday (30 April) the last two scheduled 54-wagon trains ran. 4CE1 to Warramboo departed just before 10am, and with 1204 still giving trouble, quad 830s in the form of 851/848/846/859 did the honours. The consist included three HBN hoppers. 4BC1 to Rudall departed four hours later with the usual power of 906/873/1203. This train had six HBNs, and they had been marshalled together at the front to assist in shunting them out on their return.
Today (1 May) the extended consist workings began. 5AE1 to Cummins got away around 9:30am behind 1204/851/848/859/1203. An extra 830 had been included as 'insurance' for 1204. The AE1/AE2 Cummins trains now convey 60 hoppers (not 64) to avoid excessive shunting, as the Cummins Bunker siding can only accommodate 30. Other workings will have the full 64 hopper load. 5AE2 is due back in Port Lincoln late this afternoon for unloading, and is due to depart as 5CG1 to Wudinna at 10:45pm tonight.
Here is 4BC1 snaking out of Port Lincoln yesterday. Note the six HBNs at the front of the consist:
5AE1 today has arrived at Cummins. 30 hoppers have been left on the main line, and the locos are propelling the first 30 into the Cummins Bunker area for loading:
Single-train workings will be trialled for the next two weeks, then reviewed and any necessary adjustments made.