Brisbane Limited / Murwillumbah MotoRail demise 30 years

 
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Bow your heads and a moments silence please for our long lost friends on their demise 30 years ago this week; The Brisbane Limited Express and Pacific Coast MotoRail nee Gold Coast MotoRail!

Brisbane Limited’s 1989 Timetable https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByB-ppGeDyvwcVo3R0tlR1NUdEE/view

Cheers  Peter Cokley

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  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Back in the 80's, when my sons were just kids, we went Melbourne to Brisbane, with the car, via the Southern Aurora and Gold Coast Motorail. It was a great trip, and the boys loved it. I can still recall it quite vividly.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Back in the 80's, when my sons were just kids, we went Melbourne to Brisbane, with the car, via the Southern Aurora and Gold Coast Motorail. It was a great trip, and the boys loved it. I can still recall it quite vividly.
Valvegear
Its very interesting really, while the GCMR took longer than the XPT, it had a better overall service, with the dining car, not just a floating pie shop as it is now with the luxury of frozen meals heated in the micro wave. And the old pie now costs around 50.c short of $7.00 as the meal options in a come and get it announcement.

The Motor rail service also was usually around 70% full in off peak and in holiday times two car carriers were on the train, a good wash was included in the price, helped with diesel dust and any other road grime though.  I don't know the numbers in the sleepers but on each occasion I was on board or picked my family up, the numbers seemed good and the sitting cars also were more often than not well patronised.

While it was more a long distance tourist train, it used to have locals from Casino, Lismore and other stations travel to Byron Bay for a day at the beach, in summer was older people, in winter it was the wet suit boardies. Still it provided income for State Rail, as they travelled to the Bay and back on the same train.

The replacement with the XPT I found drove people away from using the service. Didn't help when the privatisation of the freight side of services came in for the branch and with the loss of all the freight to each location, well not really loss, but turned away, only the X marked the spots.  The rest is history.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Following for those not aware of the train's history; Initial Murwillumbah MotoRail left Sydney Saturday, 3 March 1973, arriving Murwillumbah Sunday 4 March and the initial ex Murwillumbah Sunday 4 March 1973. Train N3 northbound and N4 southbound, using same numbers and carriages as the Brisbane Express which was discontinued at that stage. That meant N1 & N2 Brisbane Limited Express as the only standard gauge passenger into South Brisbane Interstate terminal. The Murwillumbah ceremonial welcome, with banner across street and politicians etc, was the following month, April 1973.

Found the introduction date for the MotoRail service to Casino. The unloading area was the dock siding northern end of the island platform. The Brisbane train used the western side and the Murwillumbah train used the eastern side of Casino's platform.

Weekly Notice 27 of Saturday 6 JULY 1974 noted Motorail facilities had been extended to include Casino and the charge for each vehicle or trailer was $30.00 between Sydney and Casino and $60.00 between Melbourne and Casino. Reservations for a motor vehicle could be arranged provided that the vehicle was placed at Sydney in the area indicated on the western ramp parking section between 2.00 p.m. and one hour prior to train departure time on the day of travel and at Murwillumbah or Melbourne one hour before departure time of the train on the day of travel. Reservations for space ex-Casino were accepted up to one hour prior to departure timer of the train from Murwillumbah on the day of travel and the vehicle needed to placed at Casino at least one hour prior to departure time of the train from that station. Ticketing; Depending on the destination, the "Berth or Seat Warrant" is also to be endorsed "Vehicle to be lodged at not later than ............. p.m." (ie, one hour prior-to departure time of the train).
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
Killed by the smaller capacity XPT, who says there is no future in loco hauled passenger services?
Bring the fooker back
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
The Murwillumbah MotoRail was initially termed the Gold Coast MotoRail Express and renamed the Pacific Coast MotoRail Express from 30 May 1987.
The April 1986 menu for the Brisbane Limited and the Murwillumbah MotoRail, which is when I wrote the date  seen on the page.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aKoWBd4_l3El4CrRZWa8OwOo7RafU_4s/view
  michaelgm Chief Commissioner

The Murwillumbah MotoRail was initially termed the Gold Coast MotoRail Express and renamed the Pacific Coast MotoRail Express from 30 May 1987.
The April 1986 menu for the Brisbane Limited and the Murwillumbah MotoRail, which is when I wrote the date  seen on the page.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aKoWBd4_l3El4CrRZWa8OwOo7RafU_4s/view
petan
Lots of prices are worth comparison but, $1,30 for a can of ale, the good old days.
  GrahamH Chief Commissioner

Location: At a terminal on the www.
Following for those not aware of the train's history; Initial Murwillumbah MotoRail left Sydney Saturday, 3 March 1973,
petan
I saw the first departure from Sydney Terminal. I'll see if I can find the slides of it.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Following for those not aware of the train's history; Initial Murwillumbah MotoRail left Sydney Saturday, 3 March 1973,
I saw the first departure from Sydney Terminal. I'll see if I can find the slides of it.
GrahamH
Curious which 'first' Murwillumbah MotoRail you saw, the actual first out of Sydney 3 March 1973 or the ceremonial 'First' with the banner on the loco that left Sydney Friday, 27 April 1973 after a short function including speeches by politicians, railway big wigs and travel / tourism officials. Plus a similar when it arrived in Murwillumbah.

Either way, the images would be very welcome as I am researching that train's history.

(Edit) there may have been a sign on the 3March1973 initial trip loco as well?
  newts Junior Train Controller

Location: Tamworth
Back in 1973 as part of my NSWGR apprentice fitter & machinist training I transferred from Sydney to Casino Loco for about 7 months.

During that time we regularly travelled back home to Sydney for weekends on our free rail passes, usually on The Limited but occasionally on the Gold Coast MotorRail.

Because we were non fare paying passengers we had to make do with whatever we could find in the corridor coaches to sit/sleep on.

Friday nights southbound & Sunday nights northbound were always a challenge to find a suitable sleeping spot, quite often resorting to grabbing a luggage rack somewhere.

During the week at Casino I was rostered onto the evening shift every 3 weeks with my tradesman to be available for any mechanical issues with The Limited or Gold Coast MotorRail.

Long time ago but my memories of both services is that the sleepers were always full and the sitting coaches were very well patronised as well....not many spare seats even out of holiday times...and I too used the MotorRail to get to Byron on several occasions....albeit for free....lol.

Just thought I'd add my thoughts on the demise of 2 x great trains.

Newts
  barryc Chief Train Controller

Location: Waiting for a train to Canungra
I lived in Lismore from 1951 to 1966 and then from 1980 to 1987.

In the sixties we used the Lismore - Byron service as a convenient access to the then quiet beach town. No millionaires' mansions at Wategos Beach, just a great place to go to.  We would travel north on what was generally called  Second Division of the Brisbane Express (Officially just called the Brisbane Express) which was made up of cars off the through train detached at Casino.  I don't think that a sleeper was included in the branchline train. Return was via a local train (end platform cars) that met the 1st Division of the Express (ie the Brisbane LImited)  at Casino.

Travel to the south was improved when air conditioned cars were put on the Limited but the Express remained un airconditioned for years later.

In about 1966, tests were carried out with a 620 class railcar set towing an ETP brakevan.  This led to the construction of 2 car diesel set 638/738 which was specially fitted with a higher powered Cummins engine rather than the Detroit 6-110 engines fitted to cars 628 to 637 to provide extra power over steep sections such as the Burringbar Range.  It ran from South Grafton (now Grafton City) and served all stations from Grafton to Casino. THis allowed the Brisbane Express to be accelerated over that section.  It is interesting to note that between Grafton City and Casino today there a precisely zero stations, attended or otherwise.

My children used the Motorail/ North Coast Express (?) occasionally to Byron Bay in the 1980s and we travelled south on the Motorail when one of us had to travel alone.  The difference between driving in the 1960s compared to the 1980s was quite marked and it made family travel much more comfortable. We also used Kirklands bus service which was no less comfortable that sitting up in an unrefurbished economy carriage. Business travellers had long deserted the train as the air service from Casino was much more efficient.

By the time we left Lismore the Motorail was like most of the New South Wales system - largely used by concession card holders.  Airline deregulation and the development of the Gold Coast Airport and the amusingly named Ballina Byron Airport have since made the train even more pointless. A quick check of fares indicates that Jetstar quoted prices of between $56 and $167 and NSW Trainlink managed a flat rste of $59.35.  There is no contest.

Vale the Brisbane Limited, Brisbane Express, Gold Coast/ Pacific Coast Motorail.  They served their purpose in their day but times have changed.  

(Sorry for raving on)
  a6et Minister for Railways

I lived in Lismore from 1951 to 1966 and then from 1980 to 1987.

In the sixties we used the Lismore - Byron service as a convenient access to the then quiet beach town. No millionaires' mansions at Wategos Beach, just a great place to go to.  We would travel north on what was generally called  Second Division of the Brisbane Express (Officially just called the Brisbane Express) which was made up of cars off the through train detached at Casino.  I don't think that a sleeper was included in the branchline train. Return was via a local train (end platform cars) that met the 1st Division of the Express (ie the Brisbane LImited)  at Casino.

Travel to the south was improved when air conditioned cars were put on the Limited but the Express remained un airconditioned for years later.

In about 1966, tests were carried out with a 620 class railcar set towing an ETP brakevan.  This led to the construction of 2 car diesel set 638/738 which was specially fitted with a higher powered Cummins engine rather than the Detroit 6-110 engines fitted to cars 628 to 637 to provide extra power over steep sections such as the Burringbar Range.  It ran from South Grafton (now Grafton City) and served all stations from Grafton to Casino. THis allowed the Brisbane Express to be accelerated over that section.  It is interesting to note that between Grafton City and Casino today there a precisely zero stations, attended or otherwise.

My children used the Motorail/ North Coast Express (?) occasionally to Byron Bay in the 1980s and we travelled south on the Motorail when one of us had to travel alone.  The difference between driving in the 1960s compared to the 1980s was quite marked and it made family travel much more comfortable. We also used Kirklands bus service which was no less comfortable that sitting up in an unrefurbished economy carriage. Business travellers had long deserted the train as the air service from Casino was much more efficient.

By the time we left Lismore the Motorail was like most of the New South Wales system - largely used by concession card holders.  Airline deregulation and the development of the Gold Coast Airport and the amusingly named Ballina Byron Airport have since made the train even more pointless. A quick check of fares indicates that Jetstar quoted prices of between $56 and $167 and NSW Trainlink managed a flat rste of $59.35.  There is no contest.

Vale the Brisbane Limited, Brisbane Express, Gold Coast/ Pacific Coast Motorail.  They served their purpose in their day but times have changed.  

(Sorry for raving on)
barryc
No raving on it that post Barry, when I go back to the 90's and before that, the GCMR was mosly full in both sleepers and sitting cars, the later cars had many young people get on at Casino, Lismore and Bangalow along with their surfboards for a day at the beach at Byron Bay, they had to have return tickets for the trips and if unbooked passengers got on with a late station ticket sales, the young ones had to stand, for most of them they had no car, and the buses were up the spout.

I never saw the car carriers not full, mostly there were two at the front, and the cars had to be washed on arrival especially to get oil from the diesels off the paint, if left on too long the oils could bit into the paint and bubble it, a costly exercise for the railways to fix.  I used to have a HR Holden and parked it at Delec for two nights as went to Goulburn, Booked off and returned the next night, when getting to the car I noticed a lot of oil spots on the top, bonnet and boot, all small blobs, I got home and gave the car a good wash with hot water and then polished all bar one side of the roof, too tired to finish off, next day the roof where I had not polished was covered in bubbles of the paint. I reported it to the DLE at Delec who brushed it aside as there was no cover as its a park at own risk.  Others I know had similar problems with the cars, so if that happened on the MR trains would have been huge payouts and/or repaints.

In the winter months the majority of cars were from Victoria where they put their cars on the SA, had them transferred to the GCMR, the cost a couple told me was minimalist when one compared the cost with petrol and the need to stay in motels o/night on their way to QLD and up to Townsville and beyond. The aspect of a clean car, food service to the roomettes and arrive at MBWH refreshed was more than worth the money itself. also they had the benefit of a day in Sydney both directions.

When the loco hauled sets finished up along with the retabling of the XPT that went up and back with just enough time to refuel at MBWH, they lost all the local travel, along with the car carrying benefits, the number of passengers dropped off, and with PN cutting out the freight services on the branch, the death knell was almost complete.  The Casino transfer to buses is a disgrace, and as our youngest son lives at Southport we usually go up 3 times a year at least, and even in the peak season neither service is ever booked out, in fact most carriages are half empty, although summer months do get extra's. The aspect also of most stations now closed and no one on duty for many people they do not feel safe at those stations.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
I'll now my head the Motorail was a great train and it's incredible to believe it was thirty years ago.

The elder members of my family stopped using the service after the Motorail was replaced. My grandmother used the XPT on one return trip and flew after that.

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