Echuca Overlander - Now to Swan Hill - 6th May 2017

 
  Loco Administrator Railpage 2 Developer

Location: Melbourne
Echuca Overlander, now destined for Swan Hill
Saturday 6th May 2017

Due to V/Line track works on the Echuca Line, Steamrail's planned tour to Echuca on the 6th May is no longer able to reach Echuca, since this tour begins at Castlemaine using carriages from the Victorian Goldfields Railway, after consulting with booked passengers Steamrail have decided to run the train to Swan Hill instead on the same day.

This is a longer tour but we are keeping the prices the same. Due to the extra distance, Steamrail are transferring R711 to Castlemaine to operate this tour instead of K153. Tour options have also changed.

Online bookings have resumed, book via https://www.trybooking.com/OUIC

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  8077 Chief Train Controller

Location: Crossing the Rubicon
Was this maintenance shutdown scheduled and they did not tell Steamrail?
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Anyone want to bet against rail works beginning on the Swan Hill line on Friday 5th May?
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
Was this maintenance shutdown scheduled and they did not tell Steamrail?
8077
LX issues.

https://www.railpage.com.au/f-t11386211.htm
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

It's been many decades since R711 (1960s?) ventured to Swan Hill. Great value for money and I'm going (was planning on going on Echuca trip anyway).
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Anyone want to bet against rail works beginning on the Swan Hill line on Friday 5th May?
Valvegear
Not 'rail works' - 'operational requirements' only ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
  Highrailer Assistant Commissioner

Location: Somewhere out on the track......anywhere around the country
My household booked 1st class for this to go to Echuca.
Now its changed to Swan Hill at no extra cost, longer trip and ive never travelled this line before so its a double bonus for us here.
  Galron Chief Commissioner

Location: Werribee, Vic
one assumes a working turntable at Swan Hill at present? or they going to bring a T along, or run tender first back to Bendigo?
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Turntable is operational. Has been used for several SRV and Dermpav tours in recent years.
  N463 Locomotive Driver

Turntable is operational. Has been used for several SRV and Dermpav tours in recent years.
Carnot

Why would Dermpav need the turntable?
I would have thought they would just change ends in the DERM.

N463
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

I think it's more comfortable for the driver and most passengers if the engine is down the back, especially in hot weather. I could be wrong since I haven't travelled on it yet:

Here is photographic proof:
http://www.dermpav.net.au/Photo-Gallery/2011/Piangil-tour-2011-Nov/body_piangil-tour-2011-nov.html
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Trapped in a meeting with Rhonda and Karsten
Turning a DERM so that the driver isn't at the engine end is vastly more comfortable for the driver. It's less cramped, much quieter and not as warm - all quite important for long distance trips like the ones DERMPAV often do.
  Loco Administrator Railpage 2 Developer

Location: Melbourne
Was this maintenance shutdown scheduled and they did not tell Steamrail?
8077
This wasn't scheduled maintenance. Steamrail were informed as soon as the unscheduled maintenance occurred and hence a plan B was formed.

It has been well received, First Class is sold out and there are only about 20 seats left in Excursion Class.

Regards,
Lionel.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Yeah...I'll be on it in First class with a few friends.

Happy it's going to be an R class...Smile

Mike.
  Gman_86 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melton, where the sparks dare not roam!
With the train set to leave Castlemaine at 0800 on Saturday morning, when is R711 venturing down from Newport?
  darcycammo Chief Train Controller

Location: cockatoo vic
With the train set to leave Castlemaine at 0800 on Saturday morning, when is R711 venturing down from Newport?
Gman_86
Already up there came up LE on Saturday the 29/4/17
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Random question - I'm struggling to think of a steam trip in recent years that's planned to travel so far non-stop (Bendigo to Swan Hill). Ie. No waiting in passing loops.

Incidentally, Weston Langford's webpage has some photos of R711 on the Swan Hill passenger in the early 1960s:
http://www.westonlangford.com/images/photo/101657/

http://www.westonlangford.com/images/photo/102105/
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Apparently now departing Castlemaine at 8:15.

For me one of the highlights will be ascending Tunnel Hill in the early morning crisp Autumnal air, but to do that I'll be driving from Ballan to Castlemaine and join the train there, as the first down V/Line service arrives at Castlemaine AFTER the special has departed.

Mike.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Random question - I'm struggling to think of a steam trip in recent years that's planned to travel so far non-stop (Bendigo to Swan Hill). Ie. No waiting in passing loops.

Incidentally, Weston Langford's webpage has some photos of R711 on the Swan Hill passenger in the early 1960s:
http://www.westonlangford.com/images/photo/101657/

http://www.westonlangford.com/images/photo/102105/
Carnot
Looks better in those photos than it does now!
Note the lack of ballast in the track in the second photo.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Anyone with some time on their hands and an interest in steam night want to head down to Castlemaine station for a look this afternoon. R711 in steam preparing for tomorrow's trip and K153 is running empty cars Maldon to the Maine this afternoon with the consist. There will be a fair bit of colour and movement that is for sure, there is even an old 4 wheeled oil tanker in 3 road at the platform with the loco fuel for the trip..

BG
  Quambatook Junior Train Controller

Thank you to the staff of Steam Rail and VGR for giving us a fantastic day out. It was great to ride the rails and enjoy a magnificent Autumn day catching up with family and others from the district of Swan Hill and surrounds over lunch on arrival. The onboard staff were excellent and looked after us very well.
Shortly after departure from Castlemaine our allocated train staff member introduced himself and made us feel very welcome with an informative talk about the day and its proceedings. He was often updating this during the trip and then he bid us a personal goodbye to us and each compartment in our carriage towards our return to Castlemaine.
I am going to chase up with Steam Rail to provide feedback on this individual as he was a magnificent ambassador for the organisation.


Nothing beats the sound on a cold crisp night of the rail noise and the exhaust of an R Class punctuated by the urgent sound of the whistle, signalling an approaching crossing!
Still feel like I`m rocking around as I type this seated!

Quambatook.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I drove to Castlemaine with friends to share in the early morning sounds and experience the steam in the 4c temperature...and the climb up Tunnel hill.


I also had a reasonably pleasant day out with friends who travelled in 'Macedon' however a few niggly things added to the noisy ambience in what was meant to be First class tarnished the ambience somewhat.

The end carriage door closer, missing or broken and staff often not closing the door on passing though the cars was an annoyance to those of us sitting by the door and the worst concern that I spoke to some VGR people at Castlemaine on return was the lack of toilets throughout the train which ended up as one leaking porta-potti toilet in a BW car for the well over 100 pax on the train and very unhygienic hand washing facilities. This toilet was a 5 car walk from the Parlor car at the end of the train.

Overall...not sure how previous years have gone with this trains operation but the inability to wash my hands in a sanitary environment of a normal toilet put a real dampener on the day as I limited my food and drink consumption on the train and had to wait till lunchtime at Swan Hill and return home to enable this fundamental hygiene to occur.

Having said all that...the concept is good and the welcome and red carpet equally so and the pipe players at the places where the train was stationary for a while was an atmosphere setter. The train had a real presence and sold itself to those who saw or HEARD it travel through the countryside. I can see Castlemaine becoming a more important transit point between heritage and V/Line services.

Once the toilet issues are rectified, the availability of tea and coffee on an endless basis in First class would be worth considering. The waiter and bar service in Macedon was friendly and personable.

Macedon rode very smoothly however an undercarriage noise had the on-board engineer scratching his head a few times made me realise how CR@P 'N' car's are to travel in...especially First Class N Cars which are poor riding by comparison north of Bendigo...a track I know fairly well these days.
I'm told it's all about the Commonwealth bogies under the Macedon car

From the observation platform in the adjacent Parlor car, it's good to see the number of concrete sleepers that have been installed north of Bendigo...about 1 in 8 at this time.


Mike.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

I traveled Excursion Class, and yes, the toilets were 'rudimentary'.  I suspect that if the trip only went to Echuca as originally planned, they would've hardly been used.  Perhaps an opportunity to install a more appropriate ablution facility in one of the compartments in Lowanna?

As for the rest of the trip - brilliant.  The BW cars rode really well and there were numerous memorable moments.  Highlights included:
- R-class putting in a sterling performance up Big Hill in both directions and a great demonstration of acceleration out of Swan Hill.
- The kangaroo that attempted a parallel run near Raywood.
- Great weather including a spectacular sunset over the plains North of Bendigo.
- Volunteers keeping us informed.
- Great conversation in our compartment.
- Hundreds of Swan Hill locals welcoming us.
- And of course the Scotsmen.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
the worst concern that I spoke to some VGR people at Castlemaine on return was the lack of toilets throughout the train which ended up as one leaking porta-potti toilet in a BW car for the well over 100 pax on the train and very unhygienic hand washing facilities.
The Vinelander


yes, the toilets were 'rudimentary'
Carnot


Out here in the scrub we use trees for toilets, there are no hand washing facilities, we pat dogs etc, eat our lunch and then wash our hands when we get home. Get over it. Whilst I'm all for hygiene, it is not always possible/practical and none of us oldies from the bush have died yet! Wink

(Written with tongue firmly in cheek)
  N463 Locomotive Driver

The end carriage door closer, missing or broken and staff often not closing the door on passing though the cars was an annoyance to those of us sitting by the door
The Vinelander
The door also seems to be missing any sort of handle on the other side When going for a walk through the train, I found it impossible to pull this door closed all the way.

Having said that, we had the rear door of Tambo wide open the whole way from Swan Hill to Castlemaine...


Out here in the scrub we use trees for toilets,
Graham4405
One passenger also suggested going off the platform on the back of Tambo.


***


Some of the hi-lights of the trip for me were:

Red carpet laid down on the platform at the door onto the train...

The old world ambience and superb craftsmanship of Tambo is amazing to see.

The VGR's buffet service, with real crockery, where the buffet staff bring your food to your seat for you.
No paper cups or plastic wrapping in sight! I've always been very happy with the buffet service provided by both Steamrail and V/Line, but the VGR are in a different league here.

Being able to step outside (onto the end platform) on a moving train
On the way to Swan Hill, the platform was the best spot on the train to hear the sound of the R when it was working hard.
On the way back there was the sight of the track receding into the distance behind us, and also the surreal experience of going through the Big Hill tunnel, and seeing glimpses the brickwork on the roof of the tunnel through the clouds of smoke...

It was also interesting to see the old kerosene lantern marker lights being put out once it started getting dark.


N463

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