Memories of South Dynon in the early 19802

 
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Trainee #17 was Night shift and my last week on the Trainee rosters, not that I realised that at the time I signed on at 2245 on Monday. The 2300 East Yard Pilot was the nights task officially finishing at 0730 with Y162 providing the power.
Tuesday was on at 2300 for 8 hours of Fuel Point duty. I didn’t note any loco numbers this night, too tired to do so?
The next shift was on at 0140 for the 0210 Brooklyn Pilot with Y169 being taken off the pit for the job. This Pilot shunted the many sidings around Brooklyn; Smorgon’s, Dalgety’s, SEC, the wash dock and rubbish sidings that existed then kept this Pilot quite busy. Further down the line, south of the Princes Highway, were more sidings in an area known as Little Brooklyn. James Hardie, Australian Barley Board and Rheem were some of the companies with sidings here. Victorianrailways.net has a signal diagram from July 1979 which shows all of the sidings there then. These sidings fell into disuse or disappeared rapidly over the next few years, with a corresponding decrease in work for this Pilot. We had the loco back over the pit at 0935 and finished at 0950.
I was supposed to start at 0045 for a Bendigo goods but the AFULE interfered with those plans by calling another 2 day strike so Saturday was the last shift for the week and the Trainee Rosters.
On at 0115 we dropped C503 onto its SG Albury train to do the necessary preparation before the Wodonga crew arrived to relieve us and return to their depot. Back at our own depot at 0230 we got called from standby at 0445 to run LE to Caulfield with Y171 and Y169 to pick up a train load of briquettes bound for Maribyrnong yard. We arrived at Caulfield at 0545 and took 15 minutes to get coupled up and to do a brake test. Heading onto the main line we retraced our route and on to Maribyrnong with Y169 leading arriving there at 0645. Uncoupling and reversing took 15 minutes before we returned back up the Maribyrnong line LE, with the guard riding with us, to return the locos to Dynon. I finished at 0740 for another early sign off to make as much as I could of the rest of the day and Sunday OR.

My first Goods roster was 68N (for Night), began on Monday October 21, although I didn’t get a regular driver for another few months. The Goods roster tended to mean fewer long stints such as I had recently completed but didn’t eliminate them completely. It also meant fewer standby shifts with more passenger trains, which I didn’t complain about.
So, signing on at 1619, I was rostered for the 1720 Geelong pass. Collecting B73 and taking it off the pit we dropped onto the carriages, I coupled up and the driver tested the brakes with the train examiner. Ready to go, we got the all clear from the guard and set off. We arrived at Geelong, left the carriages to the local station Pilot and took the loco to Geelong depot, getting there at 1900. Swapping the B for T348 we headed to North Geelong Yards for the 1955 up goods. We drew the train into the Arrival Yard and took the T back to Dynon getting there at 2240 for a short stint on standby, made shorter by my signing off at 2345.
Tuesday, I signed on at 1600 for the 1659 Werribee pass. We had the incredibly speedy Y137 for this duty. I checked when Werribee finally got sparks; late November 1983. I had actually forgotten that the VR continued to provide loco hauled trains for that long to Werribee.
Stopping at Newport, Paisley, Galvin, Laverton, Aircraft and Hoppers Crossing we drew into Werribee where everyone got off. Memory tells me we used the, now defunct, Racecourse platform to run around at; that way we didn’t block the main platforms. The run-around had to be fast as we returned with the 1805 up pass and I noted that we made it to Werribee by 1755. Flogging the poor old Y back to Melbourne, we arrived back at Spencer St, uncoupled from the carriages, ran past them and returned to Dynon at 1925. That was the end of anything worth reporting for that day, other than somehow we signed off after 8 hours 45 minutes on duty.
My first goods train on the Goods roster was the 1820 Ararat via North Geelong. Signing on at 1715 we had T375 for our loco. This was the last time that we had to deal with the single line section between Werribee and Little River on the down, as the second line was opened the following day. We were stopped at North Geelong at 2230 where we waited for our change over to pull up. We can’t have entered the triangle as there was nowhere to pass another train if we did that so we must have waited on the main line on the down side of North Shore. We took over S308 at 2300 for the up run as far as the back road at Newport, leading to the Brooklyn line where another Dynon crew were waiting to relieve us. Handing over the train to them at 0100 we then traveled per, in the taxi they’d used to meet us, back to the depot to sign off at 0145. The taxi industry made good money out of the railways back then; on night shift there was a steady stream of them coming and going from Dynon.
Thursday had me back on passenger trains again, this time the 1630 commuter run to Kyneton. Signing on at 1545, T381 had the honours. Stopping at Sydenham, Diggers Rest and Sunbury plus all of the remaining stations, still not electrified, we pulled into the down platform, unloaded those passengers who remained and then shunted the carriages into one of the sidings for the morning up commuter train. We finished this at 1835 and then made our way over to the up platform to relieve a Bendigo crew at 1845 with B84 and T349 on the front end. We returned back to Melbourne, via Tottenham Yard as usual, to leave our train in the Arrivals Yard and took the locos back over the pit getting there at 2235 and signing off 15 minutes later.
The roster called for me to sign on at 1635 for the 1725 Bacchus Marsh pass however Manpower had other ideas for me as I ended up on another Kyneton commuter run, this time the 1714 pass. This was a, delayed, repeat of Thursday with the change to T359 as loco as far as the down run to Kyneton was concerned. However, at Kyneton, after shunting the carriages I coupled T353 and a van to our loco and continued towards Castlemaine departing at 2000, running ‘Bona’. This phrase derives from the VR telegraph code used to denote a loco and guards van but no wagons. Why we took a van with us, I don’t recall but we did, as I noted the Bona specifically. Pulling into Castlemaine at 2040 we handed the locos and van off to a Bendigo crew who continued northward with them. Meanwhile, we sat and waited until our changeover arrived from the north, at 2150, with T340. Heading south again we deposited the train in the Arrivals Yard and took the T back to Dynon getting there at 0120 for an 0145 signoff.
Working on the Saturday I signed on at 1611 for a job that was either cancelled or Manpower decided someone else should do. I can’t read what the job originally was as the job I did crossing it out was too effective. Instead, I got to run the 1815 Sale pass out of Flinders St. Part of the large time difference was to allow us to get the loco, L1151 in this case, off the pit to Flinders St, collect the carriages from the Country sidings at Princes Bridge and shunt them back into platform 1, plus do the brake tests necessary,  but some was also due to the change on rostered jobs. We didn’t make it pass Caulfield, where we stopped at 1840, as our changeover was nearby and so we took control of L1168 on an up goods. Leaving Caulfield at 1845 we retraced our steps through Melbourne and into the Arrivals Yard. Returning the L to Dynon at 2030 we had a break before being called to drop Y103 onto a train. This was a very short job and we took a seat again until 2300 when Manpower decided we’d been sitting too long and sent us to the Fuel Point which we left as 0000 and off 11 minutes later.
So ended my first week off the Trainee rosters and I think it was a very satisfying change.

Neil

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  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
My second week on the Goods roster was on 192A. I don’t know why the Time Office didn’t start me on 191N, instead of 68N, but they must have had their reasons to either start me where they did or move me a week later. Either way I followed the sequence for the rest of the year from 192A.
Monday’s job was the 1500 Dynon ‘Jet’ Pilot, signing on at 1435. The loco was Y145, taken off the pit for the job, and this Pilot worked the eastern end of North Dynon yard, collecting wagons from ‘D’ balloon, from memory, and the TNT sidings amongst other locations, to assemble trains for the afternoon ‘Jets’ to Adelaide. I’d worked the western end of North Dynon on SG Goods Pilots but this was a different perspective, approaching from the east over the embankment and high bridges over Radcliffe and Lloyd Streets. With the Jets on their way we finished at 2240 to sign off at 2315.
On Tuesday I was rostered on at 1421 for the 1541 Bacchus Marsh pass. In a surprise allocation we had X42 to provide the power; the Marsh commuter trains often had H or T class power, better than a Y by 15kph and a little more powerful, but nothing to write home about. So, taking the X over to Spencer St and doing all the usual checks we set off with our home going passengers in tow.
One of a fireman’s duties was to check that the train was following complete which meant checking behind you on curves; there’s no point on the straight or when you’re on the outside of a curve as you can’t see anything. On another afternoon Marsh commuter pass I looked back just after we passed under the Tottenham to Brooklyn flyover, since I was on the inside of this curve, running long end leading on a flat top T from memory. A few carriages back there was a BPL, all of which had doors that opened outward. One of the doors was open and swinging with the train’s movement. I don’t know how this came about as it wasn’t open when I’d checked previously but this couldn’t continue as it was a hazard to trains going the other way, passengers might fall out or some other negative event might occur. So, I called to my driver to stop because of it and as we did so I opened the cab door in front of me and walked along the footplate to descend to ground level so I could go back and shut the door. I’d hardly covered any distance along the loco when a passenger suddenly appeared at the open door and slammed it shut. Retracing my way back onto the loco I told the driver we could proceed as someone had done what I set out to do. So off we went again towards Sunshine. Most VR carriages had inward opening doors but the PL and V series were an exception that had to be watched. I would say fairly definitely that this was the only time I stopped a passenger train between stations for this reason.
We stopped all stations from Sunshine, including the now defunct Parwan and pulled into the platform at 1650 for the last of our passengers to travel the final distance home.
I didn’t get much time to uncouple and get the loco attached to the other end of the train as we were running the 1700 up back again. An uneventful run, again all stations to Sunshine, had us back in Melbourne, leaving the carriages at Spencer St and getting the X back to Dynon at 1845.
At 2015 we were taken off standby to ‘drop on’ to the ‘Spirit of Progress’. As our loco was Y122, this was obviously not the train loco. I feel that it was for brake test purposes, since we weren’t the SG Pass Pilot. Whatever the reason we didn’t get back to South Dynon until 2200. Train Control probably didn’t want a light engine blocking ‘the gauge’ just so it could return its crew to the depot, when ‘The Daylight’, ‘Spirit’ and ‘Southern Aurora’ were all in or nearing the station. Sign off was 2221.
Wednesday was a return to the Fuel Point at 1500 for a full shift out there.
The first of November I was back on at 1525 for the 1610 Geelong pass. B69 was taken to Spencer St for this, my first run on the duplicated line to Little River. No surprises on this run and we got the loco over the pit at Geelong at 1730. Our return was rostered as the 1930 goods from North Geelong so, after a meal break, or ‘Tucker’ as it was universally known, largely because it could occur at, literally, any time of the day depending on which shift you were on, we climbed onto S312 and, after making the obligatory TR point call to the signalman before leaving the depot, we headed to where our train was waiting for us. We had a decent run, having a higher powered loco and less single line to worry about, and were back at Dynon at 2150. Manpower gave us a break before sending us to the Fuel Point at 2230. In the 45 minutes out there we moved S313 before signing off at 2325.
On Friday I signed on at 1402, rostered to run the 1600 Traralgon goods, but the Manpower clerk had other ideas and I ended up on the 1500 Spencer St Pass Yard Pilot on Y145 again. We brought the Y back to Dynon at 2200 and signed off 15 minutes later.
I was supposed to run a 1330 Bendigo goods from Newport on the Saturday, signing on at 1215 but the train must have been cancelled, or some other crew got to work it, since I went onto standby the moment I got to the depot. Things didn’t really improve as we were sent out to the Fuel Point from 1350. One of us decided ‘enough is enough’ as we finished up there at 1730 and knocked off at 1800.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Roster 193D began on Tuesday for me, beginning with an 0520 start for an 0635 Bendigo goods. Multi-unit T class were waiting for us in the depot yard, nos. 349 and 382 which we took out to the yard where the train was assembled waiting for us. Departing Melbourne, we headed north to reach Kyneton where we met the Bendigo crew with our change over. One reason the down journey often took longer than an up is the route out of Melbourne always led via Tottenham Yard and that was never a fast journey, especially if loading was added at Tottenham. Then getting out onto the main line at Sunshine could absorb more time. At Kyneton, we exchanged the T’s for S303 and began our southward journey at 1100. We made far better time on the up journey leaving the train in the Arrival Yard and returned 303 to the depot at 1255. We signed off at 1310, just short of a full shift.
Wednesday was an 0330 start for the 0400 Arden St Pilot. Y120 was our charge for the shift and we fulfilled the same duties as previously listed. We finished at 1120 and signed off at 1215. I don’t recall ever having to make our way back to the depot from this Pilot except with the loco so the finish time must be when we actually finished shunting within the Arden St yard and it took us that long to get across the suburban lines and back to the depot.
Back to sign on at 0340 for the 0400 Newmarket Stock Pilot we used Y147 to complete all of the tasks required. Finishing at 1100 we made our way back to Dynon to sign off at 1230.
Friday was an 0400 standby which became the 0525 Scrap Pilot with E1105. I have a feeling this was working in the ERD sidings with scrap metal, brake blocks and other debris since an E class was involved. There, obviously, weren’t a lot of locations where these could be used unlike a Y or F. Whatever was involved we returned the ‘Chair’ to Dynon at 1240 and signed off at 1300.
Saturday’s start was 0315 for the 0410 Port Melbourne Pilot. Today’s Y class was no. 142 which we shunted whatever was necessary before returning it to the depot at 1030 and signing off 15 minutes later.

194N began for me with a 1610 start for the 1735 Tottenham Yard to Bendigo Goods. X36 and H2 were coupled for us in the depot and we took them light to Tottenham, collecting the guard on the way. Setting back into the top yard we coupled up and tested the brakes while the guard did his paperwork. Setting off towards Sunshine we ran north until we reached Castlemaine at 2115. S302 was already there, waiting to be added to our train behind the X, brought south by the Bendigo crew that were taking over from us. We then spent nearly an hour waiting for the up goods that was our return trip. B84 arrived trailed by T412 and Y116 with us taking over and getting back on the road at 2215. We pulled into the Arrivals Yard at 0200 and then returned the locos to Dynon to sign off at 0253.
Tuesday’s start was 1619 on for the 1720 Geelong pass. T321 was provided for us to use and did its best under the circumstances. My notes are not that clear but we either, took it over the pit at Geelong loco at 1900 where we had a meal break before returning to 321, or headed straight to North Geelong Yard for the 2040 goods towards Melbourne. We stopped in the back road at Newport where we were relieved by another Dynon crew at 2315 and then made our way to the station to return to the depot ‘per’, where we signed off at 0015.
Wednesday I was rostered for the 1725 Bacchus Marsh pass however, something caused me to be shifted, by Manpower, to the 1745 Geelong pass instead with sign on at 1635. This time we had two T class, nos. 323 and 360 which made moving the train a little easier. After we arrived in Geelong, we separated the two T’s, which was done by 1945, and stayed on 323 to use in running the 2000 Melbourne goods. We left the train in the Arrivals Yard and got 323 back to Dynon at 0055 to sign off at 0105.
A 1645 start for the 1745 Mildura goods, the ‘Fruit Flyer’ was my next shift. We took X35 off the pit to couple to the train. Being the more prestigious train that it was, we covered a reasonable distance in a reasonably short time, before we met our change over at Parwan. The up train was hauled by C505 and we left Parwan at 1900. We made it into the Arrivals Yard at 2015 and returned to Dynon. I’m not sure what happened this evening as I have no record of when I signed off. Nothing else happened work wise so it was either a lot of standby or an early finish.
Friday was a 1650 start to take the loco for the 1835 Serviceton ‘Jet’ to North Dynon. We were allowed 10 minutes to find C505 and get it to the TR point. Taking the same route as the Dynon Jet Pilot used to approach that yard from the east we coupled on and did the usual tests. Relieved by the crew actually running the train we returned to Dynon by 1810 for a brief stint at standby. Called out again we made our way to Flinders St to relieve the PB Pilot which was being worked by F202. We finished up this job at 2150, most likely by the night shift crew relieving us, so we returned to Dynon by spark and foot to once again sit on standby until we knocked off at 0035, a little short of a full shift.
The last shift for the week was on at 1630 for the 1820 Yarram pass out of Flinders St. Finding our locos in T334 and 410 we made our way over the viaduct to Flinders St and coupled up to the carriages. Heading east we made it to Cranbourne by 1920 where the Korumburra crew were waiting for us to change over with. They headed on south while we took control of another pair of T class, these two being nos. 340 and 358. Getting the staff and a clear signal, we got the goods on the move again at 1930. Leaving the train in the Arrivals Yard at 2255 we took the T’s back to Dynon to sign off a little early at 2320. A number of short shifts but working 6 days more than compensated for that.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Rotating onto 195A, Monday was rostered as a 1050 start for the 1125 Seymour pass but somehow I got bumped off that and went straight onto standby. At 1340 I finally was allocated a job, the 1400 Truck Shop Pilot run with F207. We finished up on this job at 1845 for me to sign off at 1915.
Tuesday was a 1000 Spencer St Pass Yard Pilot, run with Y126 and signing on at 0935. We finished off at Spencer St at 1740 to sign off at 1800.
On Wednesday I was back at 1010 to run T361 light to Tottenham at 1030. The original roster was to run the 1310 Deer Park Explosives Factory Pilot but this was changed to the 1210 P10 Pilot out of Tottenham. For some unremembered reason we didn’t actually arrive at Tottenham until 1145. An hour and a quarter to travel from Dynon to Tottenham would have to be some kind of record, if we were mobile that whole time. It could be that we had to wait for 361 to arrive at the Fuel Point, be fuelled and become available for us to use, but that is speculation now. We worked the P10 until 1630 and then returned to Dynon to sign off at eventually sign off at 1800.
Thursday, I ended up on Standby immediately after signing on at 1030, although I was rostered to run the P11 Pilot from Tottenham. I assume that it had been cancelled before I arrived. Four and a half hours of sitting in the meal room was enough for me as I signed off at 1530 having done nothing.
Friday’s job wasn’t taken off me so I signed on at 0956 and actually ran the 1031 Port Melbourne Pilot. We took Y131 out to the East Yard and on via Jolimont and Montague and then returned to Jolimont getting there at 1430. At Jolimont we reversed and took the rake we had to Tottenham pushing the wagons back into that yard at 1600. Half an hour later, we got out of the yard for a return trip back to the Arrivals Yard after adding Y112 to our existing Y for a multi-unit run. This run took only 30 minutes but getting the locos to Dynon and signing off took an addition 56 minutes.
A two day weekend was gratefully accepted, to be followed by a 12 day stint. There were a number of firsts to come in this stretch, including the Apex to Kilmore East and a ‘rest’ job.

Back at Dynon for 196D at 0650 this roster was for an 0700 Bendigo goods but something happened to get me switched onto the 0900 Bairnsdale pass from Flinders St, better known as ‘The Gippslander’. This was a Big Wheel job ordinarily, so I must have been filling in for an absent senior fireman. We took L1152 to Flinders St and prepared the train. Heading east we ran the train all the way to Warragul where a local crew were waiting on the platform for us as we pulled to a halt at 1045. We had half an hour before we departed on an up goods with L1169. With the L left at Fuel Pint at 1450 we signed off at 1500.
I signed on at 0655 on the Tuesday although the roster was an 07 something on for an 08 something Bendigo goods. Once again, I was grabbed by the Manpower clerk for another job, so I ended up relieving the 0430 up Serviceton ‘Jet’ from 0830. C507 was the motive power and it must have been close to Melbourne Yard when we relieved it as I didn’t note any travel. We finally got the C class back to Dynon at 0950 and spent some time in the meal room. Forty minutes later we were back on our feet, tasked to take some engines to Newport, light engine. T358 was the loco providing the power with B64, K’s 190 and 184 in tow. We must have had a jockey on each of the K’s but that is a detail I don’t remember, more extrapolate from my reasonably recent personal experience. We deposited these engines at Newport at 1220 and then had a wait while the workshop Pilots organised the locos that we were going to haul back to Dynon. Eventually, E1111 and L1170 were deposited behind the T and coupled up. We got a proceed on the dwarf signal to depart the Workshops and left there at 1350. We had these locos back over the pit at 1420 and I signed off at 1430.
On Wednesday I actually worked the job that I was rostered for, signing on at 0640 for the 0700 SG Goods Pilot, run with Y155. We officially finished at 1500 but I reckon I was away a lot earlier than that as my notes say we finished at 1320.
Manpower decided that Wednesday was an aberration, as they once again took me off my rostered job, which was an 0700 Spencer St Pass Yard Pilot and had me run the 0710 Seymour pass instead, after signing on at 0625. So, instead of a Y class, I took T413 to Spencer St and coupled to the train. Running directly to Broadmeadows, instead of via Sunshine, as I’d done every other trip for the North-East to date, we did the all stations to Seymour trip. We pulled into the platform at Seymour at 0945 and did a hurried run around as our return run was supposed to be the 0920 up pass. The T was obviously not up to keeping time on the down. We did another stopping all stations as far as Broadmeadows and then run down the bank to stop at Spencer St at 1135. Released from the train, we took 413 back to Dynon and completed our shift on standby; Manpower were nice to us and let us stay in the meal room.
Friday’s job was 0700 for Fuel Point duties; sadly, Manpower didn’t shift me to another job today so I spent 8 hours shifting locos around.
Saturday’s sign on was 0635 for the 0700 Hump Yard Pilot using H3 and 4. We worked this until close to 1330 when the job finished and returned the locos to Dynon for a 1345 sign.
Sunday was 0745 to run the ‘Apex’ to Kilmore East to re-load it and bring it back to North Melbourne. This job was generally another ‘Big Wheel’ roster on weekdays but Goods crews did get to work it on occasion. The norm was for crews to change over at North Melbourne, a 5 to 10 minute walk from the depot but something was amok as we had to get to Jolimont to effect the change-over. So, we took charge of T394 leading B77 and got the train moving through Flinders St station and over the viaduct towards Spencer St at 0930. Once again, we ran directly to Broadmeadows and on towards Kilmore East. One thing about this train on the, empty, down trip was that with two locos, and the lower powered one leading, you could switch the, in our case, T off-line and have the bigger loco do all the work. This made for a rather unusual journey, as the diesel engine on the T was still idling, producing little noise for a change, and yet the train was still moving at close to train speed, courtesy of the rear loco which was still making the usual racket but at a distance from us. I experienced this a few times of the ‘Apex’; it was also one of the few trains in VR days that had more than enough power provided for the task, at least on the empty run.
Running through Kilmore East we rounded the curve and approached the signal protecting the junction and standard gauge crossing. Getting a proceed indication from the right-hand signal we crossed onto the up main then diverged to cross ‘the gauge’ to enter the approach to the quarry sidings. Curving away from the main line we drew the train along the siding under the loading chute and stopped with the last wagon under it at 1245. Uncoupling the locos, we ran around the train and re-coupled to the van. As each wagon was filled we drew the train back along the line for the next wagon to be loaded. Eventually, the whole train was loaded and we drew forward to the dwarf protecting the ‘gauge’ and junction with the up main. With a full load behind us, the T was switched back on-line, as we needed its power to assist us up the various hills ahead of us. SG Control released the lock on the points to permit the Kilmore East signalman to let us out of the siding and we commenced our up journey at 1355. With a full load the up trip was slower but still took longer than I would say it should have, now. We came down the Essendon bank and drew to a halt at North Melbourne station where our relief was standing waiting for us. Walking back to the depot we made it back at 1740 and signed off 15 minutes later, for a 10 hour 10 minutes shift. This was not a normal length shift for this leg of the ‘Apex’; it was normally quite a bit shorter.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
The roster rotated to 197N and the Monday job was a 1945 start for a 2130 Albury SG goods. This was what was termed a ‘rest job’; basically, the crew ran a train to Wodonga, had a break at a motel that the VR put the crew up in and then ran another train back to Melbourne the next day.
So, we took X50 off the SG turntable and out to the yard, coupled up and tested the brakes. Leaving Melbourne, we made crosses with up trains, to run through to Wodonga where a local crew took the train off our hands at 0245, to run it on to Albury for the loco to be changed for a NSW one and then brought back to Wodonga for servicing. We stuck our heads into Wodonga depot to ‘sign off’, although this was a formality, and then made our way to the nearby motel, with a dual bed, shared room, to get some rest. Although we ‘signed off’ 7 hours after starting these rest jobs were paid as 10 and a quarter hours work, irrespective of how many we really worked.
Once the Cudgewa branch line closed, the majority of work done by Wodonga was ‘rest’ jobs. They had a few Pilots, relieving the Dynon crews on down ‘rest’ jobs and some BG work to and from Benalla but otherwise they ran the majority of SG trains south and back again. There were no change-over jobs on ‘the gauge’ that I ever heard of.
The next day we weren’t required at Wodonga depot until 1615 and, in those days before pokies were permitted in Victoria, my driver wanted to play them so we took a taxi over the Murray where he spent some time losing his money. At one point he needed to go to the toilet and insisted that I ‘mind’ the one-arm bandit he’d been playing. I put two coins in at decent intervals to justify my standing there until he came back to rescue me from the machine; never did see the point myself. With sign on time approaching we returned to the motel, grabbed our kit bags and returned to Wodonga depot to ‘sign on’. We had C504 for the up trip and departed for Melbourne at 1720. On the up, we were ‘put aside’, into crossing loops, to allow the ‘Aurora’ and ‘Spirit’ to run through at speed and the odd down goods, as well. Pulling into the SG yards at Dynon we uncoupled from the train and took the C class to the SG Fuel Point at 2320. We showed our faces to the Manpower clerk at Dynon for a 2330 finish but, the same hours were paid as applied for the down trip, so this was really a formality, although checking the roster for the next day wasn’t.
Returning to Dynon on Wednesday at 1810, I was rostered for the 1955 Serviceton ‘Jet’, train 9149. C505 was our loco and taking it out to North Dynon we prepared the train and then set off for Ballarat. Being a ‘Jet we had priority over most up trains, so the auto exchanger got a good work out all the way. As I’ve mentioned previously, thankfully these worked well on the C’s and we had no mishaps or missed staffs. We ran down Warrenheip bank and pulled up in the platform at Ballarat at 0130 where the next crew, either from Ballarat or Ararat, were waiting for us. Our up train was the 2355 from Ballarat, train 9102; why it was not ready to leave Ballarat when we arrived 95 minutes after it was supposed to start towards Melbourne, or had not already done so, I cannot say, however the fact that it had B70 as the motive power may have had something to do with it; that or the Ballarat crew were too comfortable wherever they were. So, we got the train underway, climbed up Warrenheip bank and then curved towards Bungaree. Since most of the usual string of down traffic had cleared the line we didn’t have too bad a run back again, allowing for the condition of the auto staff exchanger, and deposited the train in the Arrivals Yard getting the B back to the Fuel Point by 0450 and off 15 minutes later, just shy of 11 hours on duty.
Thursday’s job rostered was 2025 on for the 2100 Bendigo goods. We had X38 with Y121 for good measure. We had a slow journey as we only made it to Sunbury by 0130 when we were met by our Bendigo changeover. For some reason we sat at Sunbury until 0315 when we travelled per back to Dynon with S310 providing the power. I don’t recall this night particularly so I can’t explain what was happening here. The fact that I forgot to note what time we finished suggests I was a little tired.
The last shift for this stint was on at 1825, originally for another Seymour goods but Manpower jumped at the chance to put me on the 1910 Geelong pass instead. B66 was our loco and it had us at Geelong loco by 2030. A meal break there and we then took T386 to North Geelong for the 2145 up Melbourne goods. We made it back to Dynon at 0010 and I signed off at 1235for a well earned break.


198A was supposed to start on the Monday with a 1221 on for the PB Pilot but instead the time Office gave me the day off, possibly on account of the amount of work they’d given me in the previous two weeks, although I wouldn’t have said they were that considerate on a normal basis.
So, my working week, instead, started on Tuesday with a 1205 start for the 1230 Kensington Pilot. Y145 was the loco of choice and we worked until 2020, signing off at 2045. Unbeknown to me, this was the only job for the week, that I ran, that was the one listed on the roster.
Wednesday I was on at 1155, the roster should have been for the 1120 BG to Upfield to form one of the Ford trains to Geelong, however, I signed on expecting to be on standby but almost immediately was allocated to one of the few day ‘Jet’s’ to Adelaide, the 1130, train 9127, probably due to the delay to it. C510 provided the power when this train finally got away from the yard and we worked our way west until we were stopped at Bank Box Loop to meet our change-over, train 9146. Changing from C510 to C506, we began our up journey at 1600 and aside from having to wait at various loops for the down commuter trains now coming towards us we made decent progress, leaving the train in the Arrivals Yard at 1920 and signing off at 1955.
On Thursday, I was supposed to run an 1115 from the East Yard to Westall, on at 1030 for this, but, when I did arrive, was instead tasked with taking Y131 to Newport Workshops, departing at 1100. We left the Y at the Workshops and returned to Dynon at 1230 by spark. Half an hour later, Manpower gave us the job of relieving the crew of the Spotswood Oil train with T337 which we did from 1300. We ran the train to Spotswood where we pushed them back into the sidings at 1630. We then attempted the T to Dynon LE which took us until just short of 1843 when we signed off.
The ‘standard’ roster had a Warragul goods but this train was obviously cancelled early enough that the Time Office were able to roster me to the Long Island goods when I checked for the days job on signing off on Wednesday. That said, I didn’t get to run the Long Island either, as when I started at 1205, I was advised by the Manpower clerk that I was now on standby. I didn’t take kindly to this as, after 4 hours of nothing but sitting on my backside, I pulled the plug and went home again.
In some small compensation, Saturday was rostered to be standby but when I arrived to sign on, at 0845, I was immediately allocated to the SG Pass Pilot instead, which had a sign on time of 0835. Someone failed to make it in to run this job so I got it instead. Taking Y103 off the SG turntable we dealt with the arrival of the ‘Aurora’ and ‘Spirit’ and the necessary shunting at the car shed at Dynon until 1600 when I signed off again.
I probably thought I was past such variable weeks now that I was off the Trainee roster but the way trains could be delayed, cancelled, extras required and crew members not arriving or leaving early meant that the job was highly variable and remained that way during my time there.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Signing on Monday at 0225, on roster 199D, for the 0300 Dandenong we took Y102 to the East Yard and then made it all the way to Dandenong. We can’t have stopped very often on the down trip as we made it into Dandenong Yard at 0415. Having made it out to Dandenong so early we trapped ourselves out there as Control were not going to let us block the up morning peak with a slow Y so it was quite some time before we were able to return to the main line, 0830 to be precise. We left the load in the Arrivals Yard and made it back to Dynon at 1015 to sign off at 1027.
Tuesday was an 0310 start for standby, which was short lived, as I was soon allocated to the 0425 Seymour. T356 and Y107 were provided for the goods which we took all the way to Seymour, arriving in the yard at 0920. We ditched the locos and train really quickly as we were scheduled to return travelling per the 0925 up railmotor, which was a Walker RM, probably a 280hp version, and we didn’t really want to miss it. We were back in Melbourne by 1100 and signed off at 1130.
Wednesday’s sign on was rostered 0250 for the 0400 Brooklyn Pilot however, things were changed somewhat. The starting time became 0340 as we took Y123 from Dynon at 0400 to run to Newmarket to collect some wagons. Once we had them sorted out behind the loco we set out for Brooklyn at 0500, via the Centre Yard to run around the wagons. Change of direction sorted we then ran via Tottenham to arrive at Brooklyn at 0600. We shunted the wagons to where they were wanted, probably the wash dock sidings to the north east of Somerville Rd level crossing and then did more shunting. With the local jobs completed we then headed for Paisley at 1030 with more wagons, probably bitumen tank wagons, left in the PRA sidings off the east line, on the up side of the station. Tanks wagons of some description were all that were wanted in sidings around Paisley. We left Paisley and ran light back to Dynon, getting back to there at 1145 and signed off at 1200.
Thursday was an 0200 start for an 0230 Lyndhurst goods. Twin Y class, Nos. 145 and 132, provided the power for this load of cement out of the East Yard. We made it into the siding at Lyndhurst by 0545 to leave the loads and collect the empties for the return trip. Getting on the move at 0600 for the up trip with 132 leading we were directed into the yard at Dandenong where L1160 was stabled. Adding the electric loco in front of the paired Y's we got back out onto the main line to make our way back to the Arrivals Yard and took all three locos back to the depot with an 0825 return, to sign off at 0840 for a short shift.
Friday had an 0310 start for the 0425 Seymour although the roster was supposed to be a Bendigo goods. T409 was provided to get us on our way and we made it to Seymour once again, braking to a stop in the yard at 0830. Another rapid move to the station was required as we were rostered to travel per on the 0840 up railmotor, DERM 58 being our transport. We disembarked at Spencer St at 1100 to make our way back to the depot to sign off at 1141.    

After a three day weekend roster 200D began on Monday 24th December with an OR. However, Tuesday, Christmas Day, was a 1600 start, with the job of taking the ‘Aurora’ loco to Spencer St to attach it to the train. Collecting X50 from the SG turntable we ran over the flyover after 1730, coupled to the ‘Aurora’ to do the brake test before the Wodonga crew arrived to take over. It wasn’t really a surprise to also be asked to relieve the crew of the up ‘Daylight’ which was hauled by X51, after we been relieved of the ‘Aurora’. We had it back over the SG Fuel Point by 2030 and the pair of us left the depot 30 minutes later. Five hours work on the Christmas Public Holiday was obviously enough for us.
Back on Wednesday, Boxing Day, I started at 1600 to travel per the 1805 Bendigo pass as far as Sunbury where we relieved a Bendigo crew, who took our seats for their journey home. We took possession of B72 and T360 to we depart at 1850 with a load of grain, as far as the silos at Sunshine, off the Brooklyn line. Leaving the train there, we reversed back to Sunshine station, accompanied by the guard, and then ran LE back to Dynon via Tottenham, getting there at 1940. We spent some time on standby before being called at 2145 to travel to Newport to relieve another crew. This train was hauled by T369 and we took it as far as Sunshine where we were relieved in turn by a third crew. Return to Dynon was by spark with a sign off time of 2310.
Thursday’s job was 1600 for the 1659 Werribee pass hauled by Y145. You would have thought that there’d be a bigger, faster, engine idling somewhere around Dynon on December 27th but, no, whoever allocated locos stuck to their guns and allocated a Y class as usual. So, doing the all stations thing again we arrived at Werribee at 1750 and had 15 minutes to run around for the return up pass. The up run completed at 1910, after a break, we were then tasked with travelling north, most likely by taxi, to meet the up Paisley Oil train out of Wodonga. We met it at Broadford where we took charge of T358, and got the train moving southward again through Broadmeadows, Sunshine and Newport to Paisley where the guard let us into the sidings and we stabled the train, to run light back to Dynon arriving at 0030 to sign off at 0055.
Fridays start was 1630 for the 1730 BG Albury pass, better known as the ‘Albury Express’. Unlike the previous day we had plenty of power in the form of S301 and T406, although the T would restrict the top speed of the train to 100kph. After all the usual routines we set off going up Essendon bank to make it to Kilmore East where we met our change-over. We stopped, even though it was the ‘express’ at 1856 and swapped trains with the other crew to set off for Spencer St at 1900. We had a solo S, no. 304 on the up and took only 4 minutes more to travel the same distance as we had on the down; i.e. stopping in the platform at 2000. We returned the S to Dynon and went onto standby until 2200, when Manpower decided we needed to work some more to earn our keep, so we ended up on Fuel Point duties until we signed off at 0000. The only loco we moved in that time was X50, from the Fuel Point to the SG turntable.
The last shift for the week was 1600 standby but it became a near repeat of Tuesday. Instead of the loco for the ‘Aurora’ we took out the one for the ‘Spirit’, X49 this time, and, again, relieved the ‘Daylight’, with X51. This certainly didn’t take until 2215 when I signed off so there would have been some sitting in the meal room in there as well.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
The last day of 1979, I rotated onto 201A which called for a 1440 standby but the Time Office rostered me on at 1430 for the 1515 Kyneton pass instead. We were allocated T375 for this task and did the commuter ‘stopping all’ arriving at Kyneton at 1705. We had 15 minutes to run around and get the train into the up platform for the return trip. We arrived back at Spencer St at 2100 to make our way back to the depot to spend until 2030 on standby and the rest of the shift at Fuel Point before finishing at 2230.
Courtesy of the Public Holiday I got an OR on the 1st of January 1980.
Wednesday, I signed on again at 1345 for the rostered 1410 Arden St Pilot run with Y121. We did the usual shunting in this yard until 2200 to sign off 15 minutes later
Thursday was an 0930 start to run LE to Maribyrnong from 0950 after collecting our guard. T367 provided the horsepower and at Maribyrnong we coupled up to the empty open wagons to form a Traralgon goods scheduled to depart at 1140. A little out of the ordinary we made it to Oakleigh at 1330, not Caulfield, before we handed the train off to a Warragul crew and their L class. They had come up to Oakleigh LE so we nothing but the T to take back with us departing at 1400 for the depot once more. This journey only took 30 minutes at which point we signed off for the day.
Fridays 1017 standby should have been an 1100 Upfield, travelling per to meet the train, presumably at Upfield. At 1210 we went sent to the Fuel Point where X38 was the only loco moved. What followed next was most unusual as Manpower usually kept sufficient crews on standby to cover any jobs but they must have run out as we were taken off the Fuel Point at 1320 and tasked with taking some wagons to Newport using T409. Returning to Dynon light we made it back at 1555 which was, once again, the knock off time.
Saturday was the 1030 #6 Dock Pilot, signing on at 1005. My driver was W Swanson working the job with Y126 and this was the first time that I recorded that a driver gave me the opportunity to drive, which I did for 30 minutes. I can’t really complain about the length of time before this first, having been on the job for just under a year. I’m sure that he questioned me enough to work this out and understand that I could probably cope with the challenge, especially as it was only a Pilot. We eventually finished at 1600 but signed off at 1745.

Instead of rotating onto 202D as I would have expected, I was moved to roster 108A this week. There is a strong chance that the roster change was so I was on the same one as Driver Swanston from the previous Saturday’s shift.
Monday’s start was on at 1536 for the 1621 Werribee pass. We found T381 and made our way to Spencer St to prepare the train. With a higher maximum speed and more power, we made a relatively easy run of the down trip pulling into Werribee at 1715 and since we were returning empty cars there wasn’t the same urgency to run around yet we obviously did so fairly efficiently anyway, as we left Werribee at 1718. I was given control of the empty cars all the way from Werribee through to South Kensington, which provided me with 30 minutes driving experience on the main line. Much further than that was asking for trouble as you never knew who, from Dynon, might be on the platforms at North Melbourne as we rolled through. You didn’t want someone in a position of authority seeing a crew sitting in the wrong seats. Seated where we were supposed to be we ran into Spencer St into one of the middle roads at 1815 where we could push the train back into the Bank sidings. With the T class safely back at Fuel Point we had some time on standby before Manpower called us out at 2000 to do a drop on to the ‘Daylight’. Y122 was allocated to us and we did what was necessary then returned to Dynon at 2200. More time in the meal room ended at 2336.
I signed on at 1540 on Tuesday to run the 1625 Bacchus Marsh pass. The almost obligatory H class was allocated to us, being no. 2. We coupled up and set off getting the H up to its maximum speed as often as possible. The journey still took us until 1735 to get to ‘the Marsh’. Shunting the carriages into the yard we then waited for the following down Marsh pass, which also had an H class doing its best. When that train was stabled the two H’s were multi-ed up and we led off at 1907, on our way back to Dynon LE, towing no. 4 and its crew.
We were low priority being LE and going against the grain of an evening peak but eventually made it back to the depot. My notes indicate we finished at 2245 but I seriously doubt that it took us that much time to get back, so there would have been some standby in there somewhere.
The first goods for the week was the 1553 out of Newport heading for Seymour. Sign on time was 1438 to give us sufficient time to get to Newport to meet this train. Relieving the crew, we ran on towards Broadmeadows with S311. We didn’t meet our change-over anywhere along the line so we made it all the way to Seymour, pulling into the yard at 1950. Relieved of the responsibility of the down we waited for the up goods that we were running back towards Melbourne. At 2030, we took control of X44 and X46 after they had rolled into the yard with a big train behind them. The guard told us the number of wagons and the tonnage, which I made a note of because of its total; 2022 tonnes worth. I’ve mentioned that we were paid extra for trains over certain weight; this one certainly qualified for that. Being early January with that weight and the destination of Geelong says to me that this was a loaded grain train, universally known as a ‘wheaty’. Getting this load under way we retraced our route to Newport where another crew relieved us at 0000 and we returned to Dynon and signed off at 0055. Not only three and a half hours of tonnage bonus but also just over 10 and a quarter hours of paid time to boot. This pay packet was getting a boost.
Another pass on Thursday, on at 1520 for the 1558 Yarram pass. T343 was provided for us and did a reasonable job of getting us to Dandenong, where we picked up the large electric staff and headed on to Cranbourne. The up goods, we were changing with, had made it to Cranbourne at 1730 so we moved to T399 and set off for Spotswood, on the up trip. Stabling the train in the sidings at Spotswood we returned to Dynon, with the guard joining us as far as the reversing point below the hump. We didn’t get long on standby between the 2120 return to the depot and being sent to Fuel Point at 2210. The foreman there got 70 minutes work out of us before our shift finished.
On Friday, my roster was changed from 1530 Fuel Point to sit my 1-60 exam, starting at 1300. This was quite a comprehensive exam as I didn’t finish it until 1435 to sit in the meal room until 1530 when my driver for the week signed on for the Fuel Point job we both were intended to do, prior to my re-rostering. We worked until 2215 when we signed off, although I did spend some time at the controls of some of the locos we moved. Obviously, I passed the exam as I stayed on at the depot for nearly another four years.
Saturday was 1515 standby until we were allocated to the 1800 PB Pilot. F208 was the loco which we operated until we brought it back over the pit at 2320 and signed off 15 minutes later.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
A really long post due to rather a memorable week with a spoiler alert. The last job for the week includes some detail about a suicide. It was unpleasant then and still is. I will not go into any more detail than I have nor will I answer any questions about it. If the administrators of Railpage want me to remove some of the post then I will do so to stay within the guidelines of the site. Too many people use trains as a way to end their lives and I am not going to encourage it; as suicide hurts many people, not just those who make the attempt, and I include myself, and other train crew, who suffer from these, in that category.

This week I was moved to 56N and also found out that I had been permitted the 5 weeks leave I’d applied for, from the end of the week. The roster change was to give my driver for the week, Stuart Lodington, a replacement for his regular fireman who was on leave for at least this week.
So, signing on for Monday’s job, on at 1810, for the 2025 Nhill goods, although the roster had us running the 1826 Serviceton ‘Jet’. We had X37 providing the power and departed Melbourne heading west to eventually arrive in Ballarat at 0020, running through the staff stations on the auto exchanger most times. The X’s auto exchanger behaved itself beautifully which made what came next so much worse. Eventually, the up train we were rostered to run pulled into the station with B61 up front. We took charge and departed Ballarat at 0211. Climbing up Warrenheip bank we collected the staff for Bungaree, most likely a hand exchange, due to the lower speed limit on the diverging line to Bungaree with the actual staff in an auto pouch, not a hand cane. Most locos usually had a hand exchange cane hanging on one of the hooks on the electrical cabinet but auto pouches were rarely kept on a loco. We checked for the white light on the auto exchanger for an auto exchange from Warrenheip onwards and most likely saw it at Bungaree for the first time. Preparing to do an auto exchange gave me serious worries as the exchanger took forever to come up into the cab from its resting point. Clipping the out-going pouch into its pocket I then tried to lower it. Well, the exchanger hissed and shuddered its way down the slide, assisted by some careful kicks from above; putting too much into the kick could dislodge the old staff which was not a desirable result. The staff was collected, not without some breath holding, and then the task of retrieving it began. I couldn’t kick the exchanger up the slide again so just had to wait for it to eventually rise high enough that I could retrieve the staff, through the exchanger trap door opening, in its pouch from the hook. By this time, we were well into the section so my reading the names engraved on the staff out loud was almost pointless. If we had the wrong staff we were more likely to meet the train with the correct one before we could stop. This gave me something to think about for the rest of the trip. Exchanges at Wallace and Gordon were successful but, similarly, nerve wracking. At Ballan, we ran straight into no.3 road and handed up the staff by hand, which was easy compared to using the auto. We then continued to move on into the extension of no. 4 road over Stead St to where the stock yard loading platform was. This was necessary due to our train not fitting into road 1 as it was too long and Control had decided to ‘put us aside’ to let some of the down trains coming up out of Bacchus Marsh run through us. So, we sat there waiting and, unsurprisingly, I dozed off, to be woken by the roar of diesels passing by at full throttle on the main line. This happened at least once more before Control decided to give us a chance to continue our journey. So, pushing back until we were clear of the scissors crossover between nos. 3 and 4 roads we set off again to continue towards Melbourne. At least until Bacchus Marsh I got a break from worrying about the auto exchanger but approaching that station I went through the same process as between Warrenheip and Gordon. Until we ran through Rockbank and handed up the last staff it continued to be a nervous time but, thankfully, nothing went wrong. We finally deposited our train in the Arrivals Yard and took the B back to Dynon getting there at 0600 and signing off at 0620. The logbook was written up with a request to repair the auto exchanger or at least improve on its existing state.
We signed on again at 1745 rostered for the 1900 Seymour out of Melbourne, having made the 11 hour off cut-off by 105 minutes. We had S307 with T403 and headed north via Tottenham to make it all the way to Seymour yard, arriving at 2245. The crew we were supposed to meet to change over with were being slack or the train had been delayed further north as it was scheduled out of Seymour at 2210. When we walked over to the up goods we saw yesterday’s nemesis at the leading end, B61 again. We set off for Melbourne and had a better run than yesterday, no staff exchanges necessary and double line all the way. I had to satisfy my curiosity about the exchanger so tested it. Whichever fitter was supposed to read the log book at Dynon had either ignored my request or not bothered to check the log book at all, as there was absolutely no improvement. I wrote a second request that something be done to fix the issue. We ran into the Arrivals Yard coming in via Tottenham and left the train there at 0220 to sign off with 9 hours under our belts.
Wednesday was an 1845 on for the 2120 Geelong pass. We had a B class but this one was no. 63, not 61. We did the stopping all stations from Werribee and rolled into Geelong at 2245. Our return was the 0040 out of Geelong with T354 and we made It back to Dynon to be able to sign off with exactly 8 hours.
Thursday was a rostered standby, on at 1800. It was a quiet night because it took until 2030 before we got anything to do and that was taking out the second unit for the 2015 SG goods. We removed X47 from the depot and took it into the SG yard to add to the loco already there. The only explanations I can come up with why this happened is that no. 47 was on a rapid turnaround from its previous job, or it had developed some problems that a fitter had to deal with before it could be trusted on the road, and that meant it wasn’t available to go when the train was supposed to depart. Whatever the answer the train finally got away and we returned to the depot to be given the job of taking Y139 into the SG yard and brake testing two more north bound goods. This suggests there were issues with loco availability on ‘the gauge’ that day. There was more time spent at the controls during this work, a shunter in the yard doing brake tests was better than nothing but not quite as good as something on a running line. We knocked off at 0200.
On Friday the roster said we should be running the 1910 Bendigo pass but we were instead put on the 1910 Geelong pass, starting at 1825. My old ‘friend’ B61 was allocated to us for this one. Well, after I’d checked the tool kit and other basic tasks I opened the trapdoor to the auto exchanger and tested it. Was I surprised to find that nothing had been done to it; probably not! Stuart wrote a very pointed comment in the log book, and with him being an AFULE rep. meant more than just some fireman scribbling in the logbook. We ran the eight carriage train, all E, W or U class carriages, to Geelong and ran around as we were scheduled to bring the 2055 up pass back again. We made it back as far as Newport without any problems and set off towards Footscray. At the bottom of the grade between Spotswood and Yarraville the bluestone bridge over Stoney Creek was undergoing some maintenance with a 30kph speed restriction on it. Running over the bridge at the restricted speed, Stuart opened the throttle, to notch 8 at the N, for normal speed, board, to try to get some speed up as we climbed the bank. As we got to within a few hundred metres of Yarraville, with the high beam headlight penetrating the darkness ahead of us, I noticed movement off to the driver’s side of the line. The movement continued and I worked out it was a person who then walked up the ballast shoulder, onto the middle of the up line and stopped there, just as the headlight beam gained enough strength at that spot to see more clearly with it. This was still a single incandescent globe, not a single or twin sealed beam, so it wasn’t that strong in relative terms. Stopping where they did puzzled me for a few seconds until I realised they weren’t going to keep crossing the tracks. I grabbed the whistle cord above me, pulled and hung on to it. Stuart glanced at me, obviously wondering what I was up to and then glanced forward again to see what I was seeing. He threw the throttle to idle and applied full emergency on the train brake. I won’t go into any more detail; to be honest, I closed my eyes before the end.
We eventually ground to a halt at around 2200. Stuart grabbed the hand lamp and climbed out of the cab on my side to go and see what he could. I, meanwhile, did my best not to throw up, successfully, as it turned out. Stuart returned with the comment that he could see something, under the seventh carriage, from where he stood in the middle of the down line and that’s as close as he was going to get.
Somehow the message got out of what had happened, I don’t remember how. Possibly the Yarraville station assistant heard the extended blast on the whistle and saw the stationary headlight and decided to come down to see what was going on. It’s possible that the train had stopped on the approach circuit for the level crossing, triggering the lights and booms, which drew more attention to us as the train obviously had stopped moving. All I remember is that neither of us left the cab after Stuart returned from his quick “survey”. Whatever happened, an ambulance soon pulled up at the Yarraville level crossing and the ambos came stumbling down the track on the down line. Stuart saw them coming and crossed the cab to lean out of the window of the fireman’s door and basically called out to them that there was no need to hurry. Another Dynon crew appeared some time later, sent by Manpower to relieve us, so we grabbed our kitbags, descended from the cab and walked up the hill to the waiting taxi which returned us to Dynon. When we walked back into the depot and told the Manpower clerk on duty what train we were off he immediately told us he was sending us to a hospital for a check-up. Officially, we were signed off when we arrived back at Dynon which was 2330.
Another taxi arrived to take us to the Royal Melbourne where we checked in with the triage nurse and then sat for something like two hours before a doctor finally called us.
When he heard that we were the train crew who had been involved with the suicide he apologised profusely to us for the delay. It turned out the ambulance transferred the persons remains to the Royal Melbourne and were seen by this doctor before he attended to us and so he knew the damage that the train had caused. He gave us each a medical certificate for some time off. We returned to Dynon by taxi again, in the now early hours of the morning, and went our separate ways.
We were rostered OR for the weekend, although I wouldn’t have gone in anyway and my leave was changed from annual to sick for the first two days of the next week. On a more positive note, as of the 27th of January I was classified as an Engineman class 2, as a result of passing the 1-60 exam.

Bernie Baker may have B61 named after him and consider it his favourite but I never liked that loco again, perhaps a bit harsh on a machine which was as much a victim of circumstances as I was but emotions are not rational. Thankfully, I never again had to face running a person down whilst in the cab of a loco, which, I gather, is rather unusual. Some loco crew suffer(ed) from this sort of thing way too many times in their career and I’ve heard horror stories of spark drivers experiencing multiple incidents in very short time periods.
One thing I did some months later was to go out into the depot yard and stand in the middle of one of the stabling roads near a bulldog nosed loco, in full daylight. Even though it was stabled, with the handbrake on, my eyes created an optical illusion that it was moving towards me and I relocated myself very quickly! I couldn’t, and still can’t, understand how anyone could stand still with something that big coming straight at you with no way to dodge you.

Neil
  Dave C Chief Train Controller

Location: Maitland
Thanks Neil, for your accounts they are a very interesting read.

Your last post is not a easy read and I'm sure was even harder to write however its as important if not more important than the good days in achieving a historical recount of your experiences. Your opening paragraph says it all. (there is no need for you to comment on this).

I look forward to reading more about your experiences and I hope those 5 weeks off where memorable for the right reasons
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Thanks Neil, for your accounts they are a very interesting read.

Your last post is not a easy read and I'm sure was even harder to write however its as important if not more important than the good days in achieving a historical recount of your experiences. Your opening paragraph says it all. (there is no need for you to comment on this).

I look forward to reading more about your experiences and I hope those 5 weeks off where memorable for the right reasons
Dave C
Thanks for your comments, Dave.
Yes, it was a challenge to dig into those memories, even after so many years, and knowing where to stop was a challenge. The post was drafted and then edited multiple times before I felt it was safe to put up, without being too gory or making light of the end of one persons life. Most of the event I can recall with far too much detail and yet there are other aspects that cannot be recalled at all. e.g. how did the information that we had hit someone get out; I honestly cannot recall.
I was considering taking a break, since I've covered a year now, but looking at the number of views this is getting and comments like yours, I've started to write up the events of the rest of 1980.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
So, continuing on into 1980.

My first day back after leave, and into my second year as an engineman, I was on 209N, picking up from the roster I had been working through prior to the last two weeks of work before my leave. My driver was Henry Tonnisson and, together, we signed on at 2204 on Sunday February 24th. We went out to the stabling roads and located Y140, released the hand brake, checked the tool kit and loco in general and headed for the TR point to cross the flyover to Spencer St to form a 2230 Pass Yard Pilot.
The night shift pass yard Pilots were never as busy as the other two shifts but a Sunday night into Monday morning was probably the busiest, making up trains for the first of the weekday morning departures.
I haven’t described how VR shunters communicated with loco crew, so here’s a description of the hand signals used.
“Stop” was, officially, both arms held horizontally from the shoulder. There was a ‘shorthand’ version, which was one arm in the same position, usually because the other arm was involved in ‘pulling the pin’ on a wagon or holding onto a handrail.
“Ease up” was used in the final approach to coupling to something. This was signalled by bringing the hand from horizontal to the top of the head and tapping lightly, raising the hand above the head a few centimetres after each tap before lowering again. Unlike “stop”, it was a one arm signal. Most commonly it was used after the loco was stopped to allow alignment of the couplers but if a shunter considered things to be properly aligned they may ease a loco on without stopping first. If the jaw didn’t close properly, pin failed to drop or the mis-alignment was enough to prevent a successful coupling, the shunter would have to get you to back off so he could try again. If the fireman was doing the coupling, then the loco was stopped by the driver far enough back from the train to prevent any accidental nudging, then the fireman would descend to ground level, check the coupling alignment, open one jaw if neither were open, release the brake hose(s) from the dummy coupling(s) that held them clear of the ground when not in use and then give the “ease up” signal changing to “stop” just before the couplings mated. If you waited until the couplings closed, both loco and train suffered a rough jerk as the brakes couldn’t respond that quickly. The fireman would probably get a bit of an ear-full from the driver when he returned to the cab in those circumstances, not to mention any passengers or the train guard, if they got the opportunity!
I can provide an example of one, memorable, rough shunt. Drivers were supposed to stop the rake, or loco, if there were no shunters in sight. I learned the hard way why that rule existed. One night in the West Yard I was at the controls of a Y class with the long end facing south. We were pushing a rake towards one of the many sheds to the south of Melbourne Yard but the tracks curved to my left, behind a low retaining wall above which were some other stabled wagons. The shunters all disappeared from my view, one by one, and my driver couldn’t see anything as the curve prohibited that. Instead of stopping, as I knew I ought to have, I kept power on, about notch 2 or 3. Because I couldn’t see the stop hand signals from the shunters when we met the wagons already in the siding everything stopped rapidly, except for loose items and crew in the loco! I hit the window frame quite hard with my right upper arm as I was leaning out a reasonable distance to see what I could. The resulting pain took a little while to disappear however, the bruise took a lot longer. The billy, that was sitting on the hotplate as usual, went flying towards the electrical cabinet that takes up most of the space in a Y class cab, with an accompanying, minor, flood of water. Thankfully it hadn’t been boiled recently, so the water in it only had the opportunity to make everything wet but not scald. Kit bags and other items slid towards the long end and my driver nearly left his seat, having little to hang onto and no warning. Once was enough for me to learn to stop when shunters vanished. They would rapidly reappear whenever the rake stopped under these circumstances, often a little agitated that things had stopped.
There were two more signals, both to move the loco. To get the loco to “come towards” the shunter one arm was held horizontally, flexing horizontally at the elbow, to nearly touch the shoulder. This made it easy to transition to either the “stop” or “ease up” signals.
The last was to “move away” from the shunter. This was indicated by a circular movement of the whole forearm, pivoting once again from a horizontal upper arm. Done as officially described the hand would move in a circle. Of course, as in any workplace, people could get a little sloppy in their signals but the four were distinctive enough that a little laziness rarely caused any confusion. If it did, the loco wouldn’t move until the driver was clear on what he was meant to do, probably to the frustration of the person doing the signalling, who really had no reason to complain because they weren’t signalling clearly!
We ended our work and made our way back to Dynon getting there at 0630 and signing off at 0645.
Monday, I was with Henry again, signing on at 2235 to run a 2330 Korrumburra, with T413.
We ran the T from the depot to the East Yard where we were coupled on by one of the shunters, tested the brakes, got the trains details from the guard and eventually headed east. As was fairly common for the Korrumburra line we made it to Cranbourne before we met our change over at 0140. T381 was hauling the up load and we got it, and its train, under way again at 0145 bound for the Arrivals Yard. The amount of time it took us to retrace our steps suggests that we shunted Lyndhurst, at least, and probably picked up some wagons at Dandenong, on the way through, as once the train was in the Arrivals Yard and we had returned to the depot it was 0620, where we signed off at 0635.
On Tuesday I signed on at 2055 for a 2130 Warragul, with Driver Ray Stanton. We had L1160 and once we departed the East Yard we made the run down as far as Drouin where we met our change over at 2345. We exchanged L class with the ‘foreign’ crew, from either Warragul or Traralgon depot, gaining control of the modified no. 1171. Getting the train under way again at 2350 I have a strong feeling that I struggled to maintain alertness. The reason I think that is that once we returned 1171 to the depot at 0335 I signed off at 0345 for a short shift.
Wednesday, the roster had a 2040 start for a 2355 Seymour but there was a strike called, this time by the Australian Railways Union (ARU), who covered guards, shunters and other operational staff who didn’t work on the footplate.
The one day strike over I signed on again at 1845, rostered to run a Geelong goods but something happened to remove me from that job. Instead, at 1925 I was teamed up with Driver Ian Murray to go to Spencer St to relieve the 1800 up Geelong pass. At Spencer St X41 rolled in to the platform and we took control of the loco. Released from the train we returned to Dynon getting there at 2040. We didn’t get to rest for long as we were called out by Manpower to run the 2130 Warragul goods. Going out to the depot yard we found L1160 in front of nos. 1151 and 1164 plus Y133 tacked on for good measure, although the Y would be part of the load, being unable to multiple unit with the English Electric locos, not that we needed its power with three L class. The Y was obviously being transferred to one of the eastern depots to relieve one of its sisters. Once we were coupled up, in the East Yard, we found out one reason why we had triple headed L’s. The load was 1050 tonnes, enough to gain the tonnage bonus once more. Departing the Yard, we made our way to Drouin, for the second time for the week for me, braking to a stop at 1245. The up train was a lot lighter than the down as L1150 was the sole loco provided. Departing on the up at 1250 we made our way back west to tie the train up in the Arrivals Yard and head over the pit. This happened at 0445 with a sign off 10 minutes later. The extra 160 minutes of this shift more than compensated for the 70 I’d dropped on Tuesday by signing off early.
For the last shift of the week I signed on at 2045 to run the 2200 Seymour goods out of Newport. It’s most likely that Henry Tonnisson was my driver again. Whoever it was, the pair of us made our way to Newport by spark to meet the inbound crew and take their place. S309 and T390 were at the head of a train weighing 1080 tonnes, so I gained another tonnage bonus. Getting this load moving we headed for the north east line and were stopped at Broadford by the signalman at 0245 as our changeover had passed through Tallarook already. The up goods pulled up alongside the S class so we could swap trains and we took control of T’s 374 and 412. Drawing forward we stopped when the guards’ vans were level so the guards could also change over. Once everyone was where they were supposed to be we set off for Kilmore East at 0310. Climbing over the Great Divide we descended the grade to be stopped at Wallan where we uncoupled 374 and stabled it in the yard, behind the up platform, which was still full of lots of old 4 wheeled rollingstock then. The VR dumped lots of out-dated rollingstock in places like Wallan, in the same way that Tottenham has been used reasonably recently. Mind you, Tottenham’s use for this purpose hasn’t changed much as, what was technically known as, the Departure Yard was full of dated rollingstock in the 1980’s. Clearing Wallan Yard of this old stock took quite a while when they finally got around to scrapping all these wagons.
Returning to 412 to run the train the rest of the way from it we got the train moving again to return to Melbourne and get the T over the pit at 0715 with sign off 10 minutes later for another 10 plus hour shift.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
A two day weekend OR had me officially rotate onto roster 210A but instead of signing on to run a train I arrived at the depot at 0930 to make my way to the 15th floor of 470 Collins St for a 1000 appointment to talk to someone, railway lawyer I would suggest, as the RMO was based in Head Office in Spencer St, about the events of the suicide in January. The gent I spoke to commented that I’d made it hard for them to talk to me, going on leave immediately and then resuming on night shift; like I had a say in the latter matter.
There had been, or was to be, I can’t recall which it was, a coroner’s inquest into the events and although my presence wasn’t really needed as they had Stuart to talk to, they wanted to tie everything off neatly by getting my side of the story. Once I’d answered the questions they had for me I was allowed to return to Dynon to take a seat in the meal room until required. At 1222 I was called out to run a train to Spotswood with T358. Unfortunately, that is the extent of my information about what happening that day so I can’t elaborate on where the train originated, where we took control of it or even who my driver was. The interview seems to have put me off my game for that day. Whatever the details, we made it back to the depot at 1750 when I signed off.
Tuesday was a return to a more normal routine, signing on at 1221 for the 1300 PB Pilot. My driver for the day was Ray Botha and together we worked with F202 between Finders St and the sidings until 2010, signing off at 2021.
A 1205 start for the 1230 Kensington Pilot was Wednesday’s duty. Driver Alan Lindo took the controls of Y126 for this job with me providing support. We completed our shunting tasks by 1920 but didn’t sign off until 2030, either we were relieved wherever the loco was at 1920 or there was some stretching of the truth as far as actual hours worked was concerned.
Thursday’s sign on was supposed to be 0950 for a Port Melbourne job, either the Pilot or to run a train from there. The roster actually had OR scheduled but the Time Office weren’t in a generous mood that week. By the time I signed on the Port Melbourne job had been scrubbed and instead we were tasked with running the 1030 P10 Pilot, out of Tottenham Yard. It is probable that I worked with Driver Lindo again. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible in the low roofed T333 and ran out to Tottenham LE, where we collected our team of shunters and rake of wagons. Travelling to the location this Pilot worked we did the tasks necessary and returned to Tottenham at 1650, to run LE to Dynon again where we signed off at 1751.
Friday was very reminiscent of Thursday as originally the roster called for a 10-something start to run a load from Tottenham to Port Melbourne but, again, this was cancelled to be replaced by the same job as yesterday, the 1030 P10. Really the only notable difference was that we had the far roomier cab of T398 in which to work; I could almost stand up-right in a chop nose T where a flat top had me seriously doubled over. I failed to note anything about when we finished the Pilot or signed off. I must have been over working the P10 or something.
For the third day in a row the roster was mucked around on Saturday. I was supposed to run an 0950 Tottenham but this became an 0815 standby with Driver M Harris. I obviously wasn’t really interested in sitting around doing nothing on my sixth day straight, and a Saturday to boot, as I signed off at 1000 having spent all of that time in the meal room. Probably another contributing factor was that roster 1D began with a, potential, Sunday shift and ran through to Friday with no OR in between for twelve days straight again.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Officially, Sunday was ‘As required 1’ but the Time Office turned it into an 0645 for the 0700 Transfer Pilot. This was run with Y124 with Driver McNaulty in charge. The purpose of this Pilot was to move rakes of wagons from where they were to where they were actually needed. I can’t be more specific than that as I don’t recall exactly what we did that day. Pilots tended to blur together as the scenery didn’t change and the tasks were pretty much the same each time you worked one; for example, the East Yard always cleared A balloon; always had a Y class, long end to the south (only the number changed); always shunted No. 1 shed; always prepared east bound trains and unless something out of the ordinary occurred you wouldn’t remember that specific shift and if you did even then you’d be hard pressed to say it was this one and not another shift you worked two months earlier. Remembering the driver helped until I was partnered with one regularly. One of the very few variables on the East Yard was shunting the gantry cranes that sat on the outside of the curve at Viaduct Junction, as this only happened on odd occasions and I couldn’t say which one(s) of the many East Yard shifts that happened on. This shift we worked until 1415 and signed off at 1500.
Back again on Monday the roster said 0556 for No. 1 Dock Pilot but this was cancelled and replaced by a ‘relieve the crew’ off the 0445 up Ararat goods. Signing on at 0600 with Driver Ian Westin we instead went straight to standby, which, based on what happened later that same shift, would suggest the up Ararat had been badly delayed. Instead, at 0745 we were given the job of taking B81 off the depot to drop it onto the 0830 Horsham pass. We did the brake tests and since we weren’t relieved we departed Spencer St to head west. We stopped at Sunshine where the up Ararat goods met us and so we handed the passenger train over to the ‘foreign’ crew, most probably a Ballarat one, or, less likely, an Ararat one. Obviously, they were supposed to have made it to Melbourne where we should have replaced them so they make their way to Spencer St, replace a Dynon crew who would have taken the loco off the depot for them and then run the pass back to their home depot, but running as late as they were adjustments had to be made. The goods had double headed C class at the front, with no. 505 leading and 508 trailing. Being a, delayed, ‘Jet’ we got a better run than usual into the Arrivals Yard and were back on the depot with the paired C class at 0950. I’m not sure what triggered it but I signed off at 1000 and went home again.
Tuesday was an 0557 on for the 0645 Pass Yard Pilot. For the first time this week we actually ran the job that was on the roster. The loco had run one of the night shift Pilots as the amount of time allowed between sign-on and the job starting was enough to allow us to get there under our own steam. F208 was running this Pilot. A fact that I’ve not mentioned yet is that the F class arrived from the UK with dual controls fitted. I don’t know if they were ordered like this by the VR, and the SECV, or if it was standard practice of English Electric that no-one in Australia thought to say “don’t bother adding this feature” because the second set of controls were removed, on all 16 F class, well before my time at South Dynon. This left some interesting holes and markings on the control console on the fireman’s side. We worked the Bank sidings and platform roads until 1430 to sign off at 1445.
I signed on at 0645 on Wednesday, allocated to work the Diesel Maintenance Shops. Tuesday’s working the rostered job had been an aberration as Wednesday, on the roster, was supposed to be the Canal Yard Pilot. Instead, I worked until 1500 moving X52, B62, Y149 and C501 to or from the Maintenance shop roads. Sign off was at 1530. One reason for the extra time would have been to allow for the, slightly, longer walk to the depot building from the ‘shops but probably I stopped at the store in the ‘shops and picked up my weekly allocation of soap and ‘sweaties’, formally known as sweat rags. The union had an agreement with management that loco crew were entitled to a bar of soap and two ‘sweaties’, officially known as sweat rags, a week, probably to make up for the amount of grime that we ended up wearing as part of the job. The soap was a generic bar of standard size with the ‘sweaties’ being roughly handkerchief size, loosely woven, cotton or similar material. Sometime later, roughly around 1982, management finally agreed to issuing all loco crew with hearing protection, if wanted, as well. Unfortunately, for me, even though I took advantage of this, it was too late to save some of my hearing range.
Thursday was an 0635 for the 0700 Trimmer Pilot which for only the second time this week was the rostered job. F204 was idling on the stub siding when we had walked up to the trimmer cabin to sit out the bulk of the shift. We would have moved the loco at least once but as I commented about Pilots earlier they tended to blur together so how often and what exactly we did, I can’t tell you. I failed to note when we signed off but it would have been after 1500 officially.
Friday’s job was supposed to be the 0700 Dynon ‘Jet’ Pilot, but, in line with the bulk of the week, I was re-allocated to run the Trimmer Pilot, once again. F204 was still sitting, hand brake on, where I’d last seen it on Thursday. We signed off at 1532 for the last shift of the week.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Back tracking a little bit, I've been provided with information about the workings of the Time Office from someone who knows how it was laid out. Thanks to Knotts for the clarification. As I commented to Knotts, my interest in that area of the depot really only amounted to where my name was on the next days roster or OR and getting paid, once my short time working there was over.

"Couple of things to point out, the Time Office weren't involved in rostering you, that was the Roster clerk, or the Trainee Engineman Roster Clerk as applicable. Time office, of course, processed the crews timesheets and arranged pay. Concerning your earlier plan of the office, post c.1979, from the BG end of the lobby, the windows were  Staff Clerk, Trainee Engineman Roster Clerk, Assistant Roster Clerk and the Roster Clerk and then the 3 Manpower windows. Access to the Chief Foreman Office (with a clerk) was via the door in front of the Staff Clerk at the BG end of the building. Next to him was the Senior Clerk. Entrance to the Timekeeper office and Senior Timekeeper was at the SG end of the building, though most of that section was behind the Roster/ Manpower section. Enginemen working in the office usually sat outside the Senior Clerks office, near the Rail Motor Roster Clerk"
Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Roster 2N didn’t have any jobs until Tuesday morning, 0035 to be precise. Joining Driver P Smith, together we collected L’s 1154, 1166 and 1159 from the wired road at Dynon and took them off the pit to run the 0110 Warragul goods, known to us as a ‘paper’ train. I’ve mentioned the Bendigo equivalent previously but at that point in 1980 all mainlines out of Melbourne had one of these trains although they didn’t run on the VR for too much longer. I write Warragul but that is what my notes say and it is more likely that it actually ran further, to Traralgon at least. The triple header was not required for the weight of these trains as they were quite short so they could get up to track speed regularly, partially to compensate for the multiple stops, and partially to get their load to their destination as fast as possible. The extra pair of locos would have been for transfer east to run an up briquette or other train and this was an expedient way of moving them. We departed Melbourne and beyond Pakenham stopped at every station so the guard could throw bundles of newspapers onto the platform for collection by the local newsagents or other distributors. The single line section between Bunyip and Longwarry was always a hand exchange of the staff as the L class auto staff exchangers had been removed in 1976. This was a bit of a pain on trains like the ‘Gippslander’, as you had to reduce speed for the hand exchange even though the train wasn’t going to stop. It took us until 0705 to finally get to Warragul which is a few hours longer than the norm for a down train to get there. I can’t say I remember any issues but I would suggest things were not normal to take nearly 6 hours to Warragul. We left the train and changed to the 0738 up which I didn’t note as a passenger train, so have to assume it was a goods although the time it took to get back to Melbourne suggests it was a pass and I just failed to note the fact for some reason. This had L1168 doing the hauling and the up run was considerably faster than the down as we were back in Melbourne at 0922, although we didn’t sign off until 1015. For those interested VictorianRailways.net has an Eastern District October 1982 Working Timetable (WTT) scan. Although the paper train no longer ran by then and most other trains had changed around it does give you an idea of what we enginemen were looking at, as we all had copies of the current versions of these. Speed limits, maximum loads, train timing and lots of other information are in these WTTs. There is also an October 1982 Northern District WTT scan on the same page.
Wednesday’s sign on was 0045, with a Driver Clark tonight, and although we were on a another ‘paper’ train, this one the 0130 to Bendigo, we were travelling ‘per’ in the van, which was 34ZLP, behind S315. We either caught a lift on the S to the Centre Yard or walked out to where the train was loading. Compared to Tuesday the northern district ‘paper’ train really moved as we left the guards van at Kyneton at 0250 to make ourselves comfortable, if that’s really possible in a loco cab, on T365 sitting in the sidings ready to form one of the morning commuter trains. After 0600 when the main line was clear of passing up trains we shunted out into the up platform to form the 0640 pass. The intervening time was spent getting what sleep was possible. Getting the ‘right away’ from the guard we set off on our all stations to St Albans run and being largely downhill the T didn’t have any serious struggles. We pulled into a Spencer St platform at 0823 and then ran the T back to Dynon to sign off at 0845.
Thursday was the ‘late’ start for the week being on at 0210, back with Driver Smith again. The roster had a Warragul but that was cancelled before the Time Office wrote up the roster to put us on something else, I can’t read what, under the cross-out, which we didn’t end up running either. Instead of all these ‘non-jobs’ we ended up running the 2145 Serviceton ‘Jet’. Considering it should have departed nearly 5 hours before we came to work there was a problem there. We found C508 in the depot and took it to where the train was and set off west once everything was in order. I failed to note when we pulled into Ballarat station to hand the train over to the next crew to continue its journey, since we made it that far but it was sometime around 0700. We had a breather before we climbed aboard B81 to run the 0750 up pass back again. Being a stopping pass I had no concerns about the auto exchanger, on this B class, since every exchange was going to be by hand, whether by me, or by Driver Smith. Technically, all hand exchanges were supposed to be done by the fireman, to ensure the driver could concentrate on handling the train, but most drivers would do a hand exchange if the platform was on their side of the loco. That saved the fireman from going out onto the running board, or using the window in the driver’s door on a B or S class, which was necessary when the driver decided he wasn’t going to do an exchange.
Stopping from Bungaree onwards, as Warrenheip was only a staff station by then, even though its platforms still physically existed, we made the journey back to Spencer St pulling into the platforms at 1000. Taking the B back to Dynon we signed off at 1040.
Friday’s job was a repeat of Wednesday with only a few differences. I still started at 0045 to travel per the 0130 but, tonight my driver was Smith again, the loco was S312, which we travelled in instead of the van, and we left the train at Kyneton at 0230. T378 was the loco stabled at Kyneton waiting for us to take possession for the same departure time. We arrived at Spencer St at exactly the same time but our trip back to the depot over the flyover was delayed as we signed off at 0855 this time.
Saturday was an 0025 start to run the 0100 ‘Jet’, train 9103. No C class tonight, instead we had S317, B69 and T351 combining to get us up the hills as far as Gordon before we met our change over, the up ‘Fruit Flyer’ out of Mildura. We took charge of B60 at 0500 and brought the train back to Melbourne and the Arrival Yard around 0740, as we had the loco back over the pit at 0755 and signed off at 0810. I have no strong memories of the sort of issues with the auto staff exchanger that I had with no. 61 earlier in the year, although this doesn’t negate my previous comments about the B class exchangers being poorer than other mainline classes.
Although this was the end of the week, rolling into 3A didn’t give me a day off as it had a Sunday job scheduled.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
So, on Sunday, I was back at Dynon at 0910 being teamed up with Driver Ray Kar Kar on the 0930 Bogie Exchange Pilot which was run with Y102. We shunted in and out outbound wagons until 1700 and then returned the Y to the fuel point to sign off at 1745.
Monday, the roster called for an 0910 start for the Deer Park Explosives Pilot but one of the unions called another day long strike, so I got a day off, even if I didn’t want it.
Probably to catch up with the work that went undone on Monday the Roster Clerk booked me on for an 0815 start, even though the roster was officially OR. Paired up with Henry Tonnisson again we were tasked with the 0835 SG Pass Yard Pilot. Y155 was sitting on the SG turntable waiting for us. We took it off the depot and shunted the ‘Aurora’ and ‘Spirit’ when they arrived in Melbourne. This somehow took us through to 1550 with sign off at 1615.
Wednesday’s start was 0850, originally for a run to Brooklyn but that was cancelled prior to me signing on. Instead, Driver Rick Mangan and I sat it out in the meal until called out by Manpower at 1000 to go to Spencer St to relieve the crew off the 0820 up Geelong pass. T345 arrived at the head of this train and we returned it the fuel point at Dynon and went back on standby at 1045. At 1330 we were given another job, this time to take a loco to Tottenham to form a Geelong bound train. The fitters had turned T345 around in the time we had spent in the meal room and so we re-boarded it to head out to Tottenham LE. At Tottenham we coupled up, tested the brakes, set off towards Brooklyn and on to Newport.
We travelled through Newport behind the signal box and on into the loop line on the down side of Newport to be stopped at Newport South Junction where we handed the train over to another crew and took control of T354 at 1620, which was travelling ‘light’ from Geelong. We took this T back to Dynon via Footscray to sign off at 1735.
On Thursday I signed on at 0940 to run a loco light to Upfield to form one of the Ford bound Geelong goods. This, unsurprisingly, was not the rostered job for the day. So, teamed up with Driver B Eckley, we climbed onto T334, made our way out to the Centre Yard to collect our guard and reverse direction to access the Upfield line. Running out to the Ford factory and into the sidings, courtesy of the guard changing the points and removing the scotch block (derail), we put our train together to form the 1500 Geelong goods. Getting out onto the dual gauge line we ran up to Somerton, ran the loco around and then made our way onto the up main to Broadmeadows then the Albion loop line. We were let onto the up Bendigo line and were stopped at Sunshine where another Dynon crew took the train off our hands, at 1605, to run it on towards Geelong. We caught the next spark, which based on times, would have arrived at the up home at Sunshine and had to wait for the Ford goods to clear the platform before it could continue its journey, as we signed off at 1625.
On at 0845 on Friday I was paired with Driver Max Oldaker to relieve the crew of the 0738 up pass out of Warragul. We made our way to Flinders St where we waited for L1155 to arrive with its train. An L class was notably different to a diesel-electric in how they were driven. These electrics had a large hand wheel mounted slightly off-centre, nearer the driver, with a short handle projecting from the pivot point. The wheel had a large number, well over 20, of ‘notches’’, if you will, which added extra current to the motors with each ‘notch’. The handle was used, to manually, change the way the power was applied to the traction motors. The first position was series causing the power to go through all six motors in sequence. The next was series-parallel, which put the motors into two groups of three and then finally full parallel, where all six motors had power spread evenly across them. So, you started the train moving with the handle in series and the first notch or two ‘cut-in’, ‘notching’ up as speed built up. Reaching the highest notch on the wheel would require shutting off power, moving the handle to series-parallel and then starting to notch up again, and so on. Full parallel was, generally, reserved for passenger trains. VR diesels, with the probable exception of the F class, had an 8 notch throttle with transition from series through to full parallel done automatically. In the cab you could feel the transition as a diesel changed groupings. I don’t recall ever driving an L, even on Fuel Point duty, so this is my memory of various drivers describing how to drive one. There may be a few detail errors in what I’ve written but the underlying information is correct. These were also rather light on their feet so slipped more easily that a diesel would.
Relieved of the carriages we ran the L back to Dynon getting back at 1100 to go onto standby until 1255. At this point Manpower tasked us with relieving the Brooklyn Pilot. Seeing it was in Brooklyn at the time a taxi arrived to transfer us there and return the old crew to the depot. At Brooklyn we found Y161 waiting for us to continue to work the local area. With the work complete we ran, the Y light, back to Dynon to sign off at 1615. A two day weekend followed.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Two weeks worth due the first one being rather short.

4D began with Monday’s shift having a sign on time of 0503 to run the 0548 Geelong pass. Driver Graeme Tilley took the controls of T394 and we crossed the flyover to couple onto the train at Spencer St. Departing we did the all stations from Werribee to terminate at Geelong. Uncoupling and running around to recouple at the other end we prepared to run the 0755 up pass back to Melbourne for the morning commuters. Depositing the passengers at Spencer St we returning the T to the Fuel Point to go onto standby. At 1130 Manpower sent us off to Flinders St to relieve the 0915 up Warragul pass which had L1161 doing the hauling. We brought the L class back to the depot to sign off at 1230. I’m not sure what was going on but I failed to note the arrival times for any of these trains.
On Tuesday Driver Tilley and I started at 0520 to run the 0605 Scrap Pilot. We took E1107 from Dynon to Jolimont to work the pilot until the work was complete to return the E to Dynon, arriving there at 1340 to sign off 5 minutes later.
Wednesday’s start was 0529 for the 0614 Werribee pass. Driver Ray Lawrence took the controls of an unusual loco for a Werribee passenger train, in the form of H3, for the down run to Werribee. We pulled into Werribee at 0715 where I uncoupled so we could do the run around to form the 0729 up pass. The return run arrived at Spencer St at 0822 after which we returned to Dynon and sat out the rest of the shift in the meal room until the 1329 sign off.
On Thursday I was back with Driver Tilley again with an 0555 start for the 0610 No. 2 Dock Pilot. We took Y118 off the depot to work this pilot and, for some reason, I actually noted the areas of the docks that we worked. We covered both East Swanston and Appleton Docks during this shift, something that surprises me now a little as I was of the idea that Dock pilots stayed in their own little, and it usually was little, area of the port but this contradicts that thought. We returned to the depot to sign off at 1436.
With Friday being April 4 and a public holiday for Good Friday the 0540 start for a Dandenong goods was cancelled. Similarly, the Saturday job of 0525 for the Brooklyn Pilot was also cancelled.

Roster 5N had Sunday as an OR; being Easter Sunday I reckon that even if there was a job rostered it would have been cancelled, unless it was Fuel Point or standby.
Monday should have been on at 1625 for a Kyneton pass but whether the pass didn’t run due to the public holiday or we were just reassigned, I’m not sure. Instead I signed on at 1600 to meet with Driver C Johnson and together we made our way to Spencer St to travel per on the 1650 Seymour bound railmotor, which was operated by, 280hp Walker, RM82. Arrival in Seymour wasn’t recorded but we were there by 1900 as the train we travelled north to run back again was the 1905 Melbourne goods. T404 provided the horsepower and succeeded in getting the train into the Arrival Yard at 2135. For reasons unrecorded it seems to have taken us a rather long time to get the T back to the Fuel Point at Dynon as we didn’t sign off until 2230, only a six and a half hour shift but penalty rates would more than make up for the short fall in hours worked.
Tuesday the roster called for a Seymour pass, on at 1630, but, again, the Roster Clerk, moved me to another train. This was the 1740 Geelong goods with a starting time of 1625. Once again, I was teamed up with Driver Tilley. We located S308 and T409 in one of the stabling roads and driving from the T as far as either the Centre or Canal Yards we coupled up and did the usual preparations. Departing from a Yard, or major station, was always preferable for a driver as there were Train Examiners based at them. These guys, always male, had the pleasure of walking the length of every train, always from loco to van, so they could talk to the driver first and ensure that the brake pipe was pumped up properly and the train brakes were off with the train being held stationary by the loco’s brakes. He then checked that there were no badly seriously worn-down brake blocks, the brake pipe was connected between each vehicle with the brake cocks open and the brakes were released. Once at the van he would open the brake cock at the rear of the van or, occasionally, the one provided for the guard, to use if necessary, within the van. This would apply the brakes and once he had closed the cock again he would check the air gauge in the van to confirm the brake pipe pressure was being restored. Having got the attention of the loco crew by doing this he’d then wave to get the driver to make a brake application, not always on the driver’s side of the train, so both enginemen had to lean out and look back for this signal. The driver would make an application and, from memory, the examiner would then walk back to the locos confirming the brakes were applied on every vehicle; in a Yard on the opposite side to his original walk. At a station he’d have to return on the same side, in the ‘pit’; I always found it a bit hard to walk between a platform and train and I imagine they did as well. Back at the front of the train he’d confirm to the nearest engineman that the train was ready to go and the driver would release the train brakes. If, however, a vehicle had problems that he couldn’t fix quickly the vehicle would be ‘carded’. A ‘red’ meant it had to be removed then and there; a ‘yellow’ meant it could run but needed attention at its destination. Removal of a red carded vehicle caused delays and frustration as the time between locos being coupled and departure times were reasonably tight in relative terms. Passenger cars were rarely red carded in a platform, thankfully goods were not much more common but it did happen.
Away from a yard or station, if a loco was added or removed or if the train consist was modified the driver had to do an, abbreviated, examination. He would apply the train brakes and check the first few wagons instead of the whole train, sometimes get the fireman, if senior enough to be trusted to play with the brake handles, to release the train brakes while he was still back at the most distant vehicle. A brake continuity test by the guard was also done to confirm the brake pipe was intact all the way through. As a fireman coupling up you could tell the brake pipe was filling by the hiss when the brake cock was opened and the sudden tension the air hoses took on. If that didn’t happen then it was a tell-tale that something wasn’t right and needed to be looked at.
With our train checked and okay to go we departed Melbourne and, as usual, ran through Tottenham to Newport. As we left Newport, Graeme handed me the controls of 308 and I drove through Little River, onto the single line section through to Corio and on as far as North Shore. Graeme took back control from here to avoid any awkward questions and took the train into North Geelong Yard where we left the train and ran the locos on to Geelong Depot. Leaving the locos at the Geelong Fuel Point we made our way into the depot. We would have had our meal break there before finding T385, probably on the turntable, and retracing our steps back to North Geelong Yard, via the TR point. Coupled up and examined, we ran the 2110 goods to Melbourne, this time with Graeme in control the whole way, again via Tottenham. We left this train to be shunted over the Hump and returned to Dynon to sign off at 0155.
On Wednesday I called in sick, instead of signing on at 1650 for the job of taking out the loco(s) for an 1835 Serviceton ‘Jet’ and, eventually, relieving the PB Pilot. I’ve recorded this job a few times and it’s taken me this long to remember that it was actually rostered this way; dropping the loco on, returning to the depot for standby and then, if not already allocated a job by Manpower, relieving the Pilot at Flinders St.
Whatever was wrong with me on Wednesday was a short-lived ailment as I signed on for Thursday’s job of 1619 for the 1720 Geelong pass. T357 was our loco and once again Graeme Tilley was the senior engineman of the two of us. I gather that this pass was not an all stations stopper as I recorded our arrival at Geelong Station at 1847; an impressive run with a T class especially if we stopped very often, if at all. Taking the T to Geelong Depot we were given T356 to run out to North Geelong Yard after our meal break. In an unusual occurrence we then left the T stabled in the Yard for another crew and were then transported to North Shore, I would have to say by taxi; I certainly didn’t walk there. At North Shore we took control of S302 to run the 2100 goods. Graeme surrender control of the train to me immediately, so I had the opportunity to drive all the way to Newport where, at 2035, we drew up on the back road, behind the signal box, to be relieved by another crew. Catching a spark back to North Melbourne to return to Dynon we signed off at 2319. I noted that today was a payday so I would have arrived before sign on time so I could join the queue of enginemen to collect my last fortnights pay.
Friday was a 1550 start although the roster had me working, what I think was, a Brooklyn to Wodonga goods, although my scribbling it out makes it hard to confirm that now. The start time didn’t change but replacing that job was the 1655 South Geelong pass. I was teamed with Driver J Blake for this one with X42 providing the power. Being one of the few passenger trains that went beyond Geelong, that weren’t Warrnambool bound, it ran express through most stations en route to Geelong. For one of the very few times in my career we departed Geelong and climbed up the grade through the Geelong tunnel, over the level crossing almost immediately beyond and descended the grade into South Geelong to stop at the platform about 1805. I’m not sure of the sequence now but I have a feeling that we drew the train into the loop road before running around the train. It is possible that we ran around first before moving into the loop road, but that feels like the less likely option now. Our return was as an empty cars departing South Geelong at 1850, climbing up the grade and descending through the tunnel to run through Geelong without stopping. Running empty cars we didn’t get the same priority as the down trip but still managed to draw up at Spencer St at 2015. We returned no. 42 to the Fuel Point and then spent the rest of the shift in the meal room, signing off at 0010 with a Saturday OR.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Roster 6A was supposed to start with a Sunday spent at the Fuel Point, however when I signed on at 1500 no driver signed on at the same time to team up with me. So, I sat, on my own, in the meal room until 1810 when I was partnered with Driver K Dabkowski. We made our way to Spencer St to run the 1905 Ballarat pass with X48 and T413 to take the train as far as Ballan, stopping at 2035, where we met the up pass carrying our change over crew. Our relief crew was travelling per to meet us so we took their seats in one of the carriages to travel back towards Melbourne. For reasons unremembered when the train stopped at Sunshine we relieved the crew, who’d brought the pass this far, to take the train the rest of the way into Spencer St. We took charge of X38 at 2130 to draw into a platform at Spencer St at 2149. Back at the depot we sat out the rest of my shift on standby until I signed off at 2300.
Back again on Monday at 1415 with Driver G Bentley we made our way out to where T412 and Y161 were waiting for us. One thing about taking over a loco I haven’t mentioned is the ‘chart’. All locos, except E and F class, had Hasler speed recorders which had a roll of paper, the ‘chart’, inside them, marked in graduations that recorded such things as the speed, the notch the loco was in and other details; in effect a poor man’s ‘data black box’. Whenever a driver took over a loco he had to open the small access door, write the train, time and his name in pencil on the ‘chart’. When these rolls ran low they were removed from the speedo by a fitter and sent to Head Office where they were examined by clerks who did little else than this. If a driver was suspected of doing something they shouldn’t have, a derailment occurred or some other problem was experienced Head Office checked these ‘charts’ especially carefully. If an overspeed event or other problem was located then the driver whose name was the one written against that part of the chart was asked to ‘please explain’. An unacceptable explanation would result in some form of punishment, depending on the severity of the event.
Taking the locos off the pit we found a guard waiting for us near the hump and with him safely in the cab of no. 161 we headed to Paisley to form the 1600 Wodonga oil train. In the sidings off the West line we assembled our train from the cab of the T class. Getting out onto the main line we headed for Seymour via Broadmeadows. We eventually met our change over at Kilmore East at 2000 which had T347 at the head of the empties headed back to Paisley. The return run took us until 2230 when we re-entered the sidings to tie up the train. Back on the main line with the T running ‘light’, and the guard on board, we returned to Dynon to sign off at 2345.
Tuesday should have been 1435 on for the 1500 Trimmer Pilot but someone else got to sit in the trimmer cabin while I worked one of the 1500 Standard Gauge Goods Pilots with the same starting time. Y155 was our loco for the shift which finished at 2300 so we could sign off at 2315.
Wednesday’s roster was for a 1400 standby. Absolutely nothing happened as I signed off again at 2200 having spent the whole shift in the meal room.
Signing on at 1402 on Thursday, with Driver Ray Strunger, we were rostered for the 1435 Spencer St Pass Yard Pilot run, with F204.We worked this shift until 2210 with a sign off of 2225.
Friday’s shift began at 1401 with a 1430 Lilydale rostered but not only did I not run that job I lost the driver I was supposed to work with, whose name is now so obscured I can’t tell who it was. Standby it was, until I was called out of the meal room to be paired with Driver E Kosewski and together we were tasked to run the 1810 Werribee pass. In a fully expected allocation, we had a Y class to run this train, being no. 149 specifically. My notes say that it took us 40 minutes to get to Werribee, which I find a little unlikely as the average time a Werribee bound train took from Spencer St was about an hour; unless this was not an all stations, also unlikely, as they were almost universally stopping all stations. As I made no notation about the return trip I have to assume that it was as empty cars but when we departed Werribee or made it back to Spencer St I didn’t record. Whatever happened we ended up back at Dynon on standby until 2100 when I signed off, for a slightly short shift to finish my working week.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
After having Sunday OR and moving onto 7D I signed on at 0655, with Ray Kar Kar once again. We found X37 in the depot and headed off the pit to Tottenham Yard. Once at Tottenham we picked up our train to form the 0820 Glenroy goods. Departing the Yard, we ran down to Sunshine then along the Albion loop line to Broadmeadows where we ran around the train. To do this the only option, I can recall, was to use the two main lines but I may be in error there. Somehow, we got the X to the other end of the train we then proceeded down the grade to Glenroy. We pushed back into the sidings at 1040 to shunt the flour mill. With the shunting completed we pulled up to the dwarf signal to wait for our chance to return to the main line. This came at 1130 when we moved out of the sidings and continued down the grade until Essendon where we once again stopped to do a bit more shunting. This didn’t take long as we were on the move again soon as we had our train in the Arrivals Yard at 1230. We returned the X to Dynon and sat until 1350 when we were sent out to do Fuel Point for the balance of our shift. These suburban goods were still relatively common at this date but soon began to disappear rapidly from the rosters until there were only a few left, the Dandenong and Newport lines being the most likely for ongoing suburban goods.
At Fuel Point the only locos dealt with by us were L1167 and 1150, at different times. As with anything rail related there were busy periods and slumps. Before and after the peaks Fuel Point could be really busy but died off in between and actually during the peak as most locos were in use then. We signed off at 1455 for a full 8 hours.
Ray and I signed on again on Tuesday, at 0730, rostered to continue our working the Fuel Point. Today, over the whole shift we dealt with B61, X52, C510, X45, X53, T405, B63 and S312 in that order. Both of the turntables at South Dynon were powered ones, which was just as well, with the amount of moves on and off them in one day, especially the broad gauge one. The BG table was supposed to be left aligned with its approach tracks, which were directly opposite each other; the SG one with one of its two, as these did not align. As with the supermarket queue scenario, where the queue you’re in is always the slowest even if you change queues, it was never aligned to the approach track you were on! In other respects operation of them was the same. Within the cabin of each turntable was a control box, resembling an older tram controller, the handle having three positions, i.e. left to move the table anti-clockwise, right for clockwise and centred for no power. The tables rotated at a fixed speed of, probably, a few kph, certainly not fast. There were two other levers in the cabin, which vaguely resembled signal box levers. One was a brake and the other was the locking pawl. There was a speed limit for locos to move onto a turntable, 10 kph from memory, to minimise damage to the rail ends and table itself, not that the rail ends on most tables weren’t noticeable damaged as the gap between approach rails and those on the table was enough to have the loco wheels hammer the table rails as it rolled onto the table, even at low speed.
With a loco sitting on the turntable the locking pawl lever would be pulled towards the operator to release the pawl. The table would then be rotated with the directional control towards an empty road and slowed by pulling the brake lever towards the operator. As the table lined up the brake was supposed to be used to stop the table completely and then the pawl engaged by pushing its lever back to its resting place. This required good timing and accurate judgement. If you missed aligning correctly you had to get the table moving again and re-try. Poor judgement might result in a few minutes of small moves, backwards and forwards, without being able to engage the pawl. If this happened then you, probably, had the driver leaning out of the cab offering ‘advice’ and, eventually, not a little abuse if this went on too long. In practice, most fireman would slow the table as the rails came close to aligning and then push on the pawl level until the pawl engaged, often resulting in a sudden, jarring, stop. I, too, was guilty of doing it this way although I did try to reduce the rotation speed substantially first. Sometime around 1982 the BG table was removed, and scrapped, to be replaced by one, if I remember correctly, from Ballarat loco. This was because the old one had become warped due to this less than ideal method of operating it.
Wednesday was an 0711 on for the 0730 Powerhouse Pilot. We took H1 off the pit to run to Spotswood to shunt the various sidings on the down side of the line. The name for this Pilot was a throwback to when the Newport power station was supplied with briquettes from the Latrobe Valley and a Pilot was required to shunt wagons in and out of the power station sidings. Instead of briquettes, petroleum and sand wagons were the vehicles moved around in the 1980s. The time we finished at Spotswood wasn’t recorded but the shift finished at 1430 without any time on standby.
Thursday was 0730 Fuel Point again, instead of the rostered 0700 Newmarket Pilot which had been cancelled at least 24 hours earlier. So, with Driver Barge we moved X50, C502, X49, T349, X31, T379 and T351. Of these I worked the controls of the C, X50 and T’s no. 379 and 351. A 1530 sign off led to a day off as Friday was Anzac Day.
Back again on Saturday at 0720 I was rostered for the 0745 Spencer St Pass Yard Pilot. In a rather unusual shift we started off with F207 but at some stage we switched locos to Y138, a much appreciated change as a Y was more powerful, roomier, a lot more comfortable and provided a much better base to see shunters. The shift would have finished no later than 1545 with sign off being 1600.

Neil
  david harvey Junior Train Controller

Location: Bairnsdale
The shift would have finished no later than 1545 with sign off being 1600.

Neil
ngarner
Congratulation on your promotion to C.T.C


dave
  Gantry Crane Beginner

Neil, thanks for your posts. Very insightful.

Did you ever work the Fitzroy goods whilst it was still running?
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Neil, thanks for your posts. Very insightful.

Did you ever work the Fitzroy goods whilst it was still running?
Gantry Crane
Yes, I got to work that job on October 8th 1980, before Fitzroy Goods and the remains of the Inner Circle were finally closed. That was quite an interesting experience although a one off for me.
As the last post covered the third week of April 1980 it will be a little while before I get to October so you won't get to read about it for a while yet.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Roster 8N started on Monday at 2325, with a Newmarket Pilot which was cancelled before I signed on. Instead, I ended up at Fuel Point from 0030 with Driver S Perry. Together we shifted Y107, S302, Y156, Y122, T393, X42, Y129, S307 and Y151. Y’s 107, 122 and S302 were moved under my control. Y122 was on the ‘gauge’ so was only a short move from the Fuel Point to the SG table.
On Tuesday sign on was 2315 for an 0130 Brooklyn to Seymour. Driver Leemon, nicknamed ‘Biggles’, and I found B82 in the yard and headed off to Brooklyn LE, collecting a guard on the way. Once we were coupled up and tested we set off through Sunshine and Broadmeadows. As we climbed the grade up towards Beveridge ‘Biggles’ turned to me and said “here, you drive”. I was a little bemused since I’d not worked with him before but wasn’t going to say no. So, he took my place and very promptly fell asleep! After the 1969 ‘Southern Aurora’ Violet Town accident “improved” Vigilance Control (VC) was added, one for each crew member. The fireman’s one was a button inside a dished mounting on the roof above the fireman’s seat. Every 90 seconds there would be a hiss of air which would progressively grow louder until, if not pressed and held for 5 seconds, within a short time, it became a siren and if still not depressed, would apply the train brakes. I only heard this siren once or twice, in 5 years, and it really would wake the dead. The drivers was a simple button, mounted on the drivers console that would start to buzz at a similar interval as the fireman’s. All you needed to do with this was press it; failure to do so would also apply the brakes, although without the deafening siren. These were intended to ensure both enginemen stayed awake but, as I’ve commented previously, they weren’t really that effective at doing that. With ‘Biggles’ fast asleep the fireman’s VC went off for the first time. I turned my head to watch his arm rise to the roof and punch the button then collapse to his side again and this happened every time the fireman’s VC started to go off. Even asleep, he never let it get too loud, let alone get to the point of the siren going off.
We were not far behind another down goods so as we approached Wallan the distant was at caution with the arrival home at proceed but the home at the end of the platform at stop. We had to wait for the preceding goods to clear Kilmore East, being the next, open, block station. I have a memory that the signalman let me know that it would be at least a half hour wait, so I boiled the billy and I had my meal break, while ‘Biggles’ slept on. Eventually the signalman got ‘line clear’ from Kilmore East and cleared the home and starting signals for us to proceed. I applied power and got the train up to speed for the run at the climb up to Heathcote Junction, while ‘Biggles’ continued to sleep and silence the VC. On the momentum grades on the down side of Kilmore East the guard was probably cursing me (assuming he was awake!) because I hadn’t driven this line previously and, by my own admission, messed up these momentum grades. Anyone reading the speedo chart would probably have worked out this wasn’t an experienced driver at the controls. There was power applied when it shouldn’t normally have been needed and braking when not normally required with the slack in the couplings running in and out constantly creating a rough ride in the guard’s van.
We ran on through Broadford then Tallarook and crossed the Goulburn River to enter the yard at Seymour at 0510 where ‘Biggles’ finally stirred when the train came to a stand and I got out of the driver’s seat to get my kitbag and billy. One of his first questions was whether we’d had tucker yet. I responded with “Yes, at Wallan”. He had no memory of any of the trip from when I took over, which shows how far out of it he was. He had something to eat before departure from Seymour and after his two plus hours sleep he was fine to drive the 0550 pass to Spencer St at the controls of B68; just as well, as I would have struggled to do this, stopping accurately at the stations and maintaining the timetable. We rolled into Spencer St, at 0736, having stopped all stations to Broadmeadows. It then took us a reasonable amount of time to get the loco back to the depot as we didn’t sign off until 0825.
The next sign on was at 2325. I’m inclined to say that I worked with ‘Biggles’ for the rest of the week. The roster was on at 2320 for a 0015 Ballarat but this had been cancelled before the roster was written up. Instead, we eventually travelled in a taxi to Newport to meet a cement carrying goods out of Geelong bound for Lyndhurst. At 0240 we took control of T372 to make our way through Melbourne and on out to the Korrumburra line. Stopping short of the points at Lyndhurst, the guard came forward to put the large electric staff into the exchange apparatus to release the Annett key so he could let us into the siding where we terminated the train at 0545. Some sidings had locks released by an electric staff but it was more common for an Annett key to be used. In this case the Annett key was locked in a device that had a place for a large electric staff to be inserted which would then unlock the Annett key and vice versa. There is a Dandenong to Hallam and Lyndhurst signal diagram that shows the siding as of 1979 on the Victorianrailways.net website, which marks where these apparatus were at this siding. Of course, shunting this siding, or those closer to Dandenong, meant no other trains could travel between Cranbourne and Dandenong until the shunting train cleared the section. Returning to the main line at 0600 and reclaiming the staff from the exchange apparatus we then ran 372 LE, with the guard as an extra in the cab, back to the depot arriving there at 0725 to sign off at 0740.
Thursday’s start was 2330, once again trying for the 0015 Ballarat which, once again, was cancelled although this time after the roster was written up. Tonight’s substitute was the 0030 Newmarket Stock Pilot which was run with Y146. Being a Pilot there’s not much I can say about this shift other than we signed off sometime around 0800.
Friday I had an OR.
Returning to the depot on Saturday night I started at 2245 to run a 2330 ballast train to Mordialloc. T352 was taken to the Ways and Works sidings, coupled to the loaded ballast wagons and we set off for the Frankston line. Once again, I was given the controls, this time from Highett, not that we travelled far while I was in charge of the train, as my notes say I drove as far as Cheltenham and that it took about 3 hours to cover this distance at either very low speeds, as ballast was discharged from the NN wagons, or stationary, waiting for instruction to move ahead again. Once the wagons were all empty we ran around, most likely at Mordialloc, and returned the train to its siding at North Melbourne and the T to the Fuel Point arriving there at 0800 with sign off at 0815.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
The shift would have finished no later than 1545 with sign off being 1600.

Neil
Congratulation on your promotion to C.T.C


dave
david harvey
Thanks David, although I'm not sure if CTC is better than ATC or Double Line Block.

For those who are not familiar with Victorian Railways signalling methods CTC stands for Centralised Traffic Control as used on the SG from Dynon to Albury or (formerly) Sunshine to Deer Park West. ATC is Automatic and Track Control, used between Newport South and Corio. Double Line Block is in use on the Seymour and (formerly) the Bendigo lines.

Neil
  ngarner Chief Train Controller

Location: Seville
Instead of rolling on to 9A, I was moved to 158N, as this was the roster my regular driver was following, although it took a few weeks to meet him as I get the impression he was on leave this and the following week. In some ways doing two weeks of Night in a row was good as going through the Day, Night, Afternoon rotation of the roster meant there wasn’t much chance to adjust to any shift except Day or early Afternoon’s. Certainly, adjusting to a week of Night shift was rarely successful as it only lasted for five or six days before you were on something different. Doing two weeks in a row actually gave the body a chance to get a little settled in sleeping during the day.
Starting at 2235 on Sunday, with Richard Morgans once again, who I worked with through to Wednesday, we were rostered for the 2300 Trimmer Pilot. The hump yard ceased working early Saturday afternoon to resume very late Sunday night so we had to locate F203, take it off the pit and manoeuvre it up to the siding on the hump where I wound on the hand brake and the pair of us left 203 to its own devices while we settled into the Trimmer cabin. We were relieved at 0705 and signed off at 0715, although I’m sure I just headed straight home.
Monday appears to have been a rostered standby but this changed to a 2200 on for a 2225 Geelong. Twenty-five minutes to get our locos and prepare a train seems a bit short for a train originating from the Melbourne Yard but as, it would appear, it was a last minute change Manpower could do little about it. We took X41 and B69 off the ready roads to the Yard to prepare the train. Almost every departure from Melbourne went via the Dudley St tunnel and Tottenham Yard and that always accounted for a reasonable amount of time which would help to explain why it took us as long as we did to meet our change over. A late allocation of crew wouldn’t have helped. We eventually made it to North Shore at 0215 where we met a Geelong crew. Taking over control of T338 we brought this train back into the Arrivals Yard and left 338 at the Fuel Point to sign off at 0550.
On Tuesday the roster said 2310 for a Seymour but the Roster Clerk moved us both to 2150 for the 2225 Geelong goods again. This slightly earlier sign on gave us a bit more time to prepare the train tonight which was hauled by B’s no. 81 and 70. We obviously made a lot better time than Monday as we met our change-over at 0025 at Lara this time. X48 was the loco on the up goods and we had it back over the pit at Dynon by 0230. My notes get little cryptic from here as I was running out of room to make them. We sat on standby for a little while until 0320 when Manpower had us take a loco, in the form of H4 LE towards Seymour. We would have run up the suburban lines to Broadmeadows and then got to Broadford where we handed the H over to a Seymour crew. From here things are definitely vague but trying to interpret my notes suggests that we took over T337 for the return to Melbourne. If I assume there was a train attached to the T it was one of the fastest up trips off the Seymour line I ran as we were back at Dynon by 0455 so this is a big assumption but that then begs the question of why did we run an H LE north to bring a T LE south? If we didn’t return with 337 then it would have been via a taxi but I can’t explain why T337 gets a mention then. Whatever the explanation we were signed off at 0510.
Wednesday arrived for us to sign on for at 2150, once again, the 2225 Geelong goods for the third night in a row, instead of a Korrumburra. This train was moving a lot of tonnage as once more, we had multiple locos to haul it with. B65, T376 and B76, in that order, were allocated to the train. Tonight we met our change-over at Lara at 0130 which had B70 doing the hauling. This train was left in the Arrival Yard and the B back on the depot at 0350. Manpower kept us working by sending us to the Fuel Point where Y165 and C501 were the only two locos moved before our shift finished at 0550. I drove the Y but Richard kept control of the C. I noted that it was pay week again and since it was now Thursday morning I’m sure I spent a few hours in the meal room, on my own time, until the pay office opened before going home to sleep.
Thursday night produced a change in job and also in drivers. Sign on was 2245 for a 2330 Bendigo with Driver John Stewart, instead of 2235 for the 2300 Transfer Pilot which Richard probably ended up doing. We had X41 with B76 coupled up behind and even with all this horsepower we still only made it to Kyneton by 0530. We took over T372 but didn’t get away from Kyneton on the up until 0600. We only made it as far as Woodend before the signalman stopped us and told us to push the train back into the up sidings, which we completed by 0640. The up Melbourne pass came in with X41 doing the hauling and we relieved its crew, who were relegated to the goods that we’d just tied up in the sidings. We set off on the up at 0645 to bring the pass into Spencer St in 0825. I didn’t note sign off time as John told me go straight home from Spencer St since we were relieved there because of our time on duty. As I was OR for the next three days this gave me a chance to readjust to a more normal sleep pattern for a few weeks.

Neil

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