By the start of July 1999, there were only three diesel locomotives still operating in NSW wearing the original NSWGR Indian Red livery – 42220, 8004 & 8027. 42220, along with 42203 which was painted in the Candy livery, was allocated to Countrylink for use on the Griffith and Broken Hill expresses, but still saw occasional use on freight jobs in between passenger duties. The two 80s were allocated to Werris Creek and were mainly used on the Ardglen bankers roster.
On the last Thursday in June 1999 I was driving past DELEC and was surprised to see 8027 parked around the turntable. A quick call was made to a contact who worked in the CMPC (Centralised Motive Power Control) to enquire what was planned for the loco, and was told it was heading back north the following Monday, having been sent to DELEC for some attention on the wheel lathe. A plan was then hatched. If 42203 could be rostered to work the passenger service to Griffith on Saturday, would it be possible to put 42220 and 8027 on the oil train to Canberra on Friday night, meaning the two locos would then be on the front of what was then the Saturday afternoon “picture train”, no.2138 empty oil back to Sydney? A few minutes later I got the call back saying the “deal was done”, as long as those involved in arranging the working could get copies of the video.
I was only just getting acquainted with the world wide web. There was no “social media” as we know it today. There were however very “primitive” news groups which anyone could join, and there was one set up for rail fans called “Ausloco”, which received hundreds of posts each day on a huge range of rail related topics. At regular intervals you had to download all the posts and plough through the subject headings to see if there was anything of interest. On the Friday night I made my first post to Ausloco, simply stating that for anyone who may be interested, two of the last three NSW diesels still painted in Indian Red would be working 2138 the following afternoon.
The potential of the internet to become a new and powerful “grapevine” became clear to me the following afternoon, when to my amazement a few minutes before the train came into view at the first location I had set up at a huge cavalcade of cars began to arrive unloading numerous photographers. As always when you have a crowd of gunzels chasing a train there’s a good chance a couple will be idiots, and on this day one car load drew attention to themselves by tearing into Goulburn yard and running across the tracks to grab a shot of the train, much to the anger of the signalling staff on duty and the consternation of the train crew. Police were called, and an incident report made its way to the relevant railway authorities. When the person investigating learned why this particular train had drawn so much attention, Freightcorp were instructed to banish the two Indian Red 80s to the far north west of the state where they could potter around without causing any further excitement! Fortunately those two 80s would get one more chance to “put on a show”, but that story will have to wait for October to be told.