Pennsylvania Power & Light #4094, Largest Fireless Steam Locomotive
AT&N #401, A Decapod at the Age of Steam Roundhouse
New interactive installation at London Transport Museum this summer
The Port Carlisle Branch
Small Wonders: WHEELS OF MIS/FORTUNE
London Transport Museum to host Elizabeth line ‘street party’
London Transport Museum launches 20% off sale
‘Act-on It!’ open days for London Transport Museum’s Acton Depot
Experiences of a Woman Yardmaster, 1975
Regional rail memories of NSW Royal visits
The Moura Short Line was constructed to provide a more efficient means of transporting large volumes of coal from the planned expansion of the Callide and Dawson coal fields to the deep-water port of Gladstone in the mid 1960's.
The Short Line tag is due to the fact that coal from the Dawson Valley already reached Gladstone via Mt Morgan and Rockhampton over a 300 kilometer route that up until 1952 included a 1 in 16 ABT rack section to climb the Razorback Range to Mt Morgan from the Central Line at Kabra. A direct railway was proposed by a private syndicate in the early 1900’s from the Callide coal measures near modern day Biloela. An act of parliament was passed with very strong opposition from parliament members from Rockhampton who saw it as a threat to their city’s development and economic interests if Gladstone was allowed to develop a direct railway to its superior deep water port.
The Callide Coal Syndicate failed to raise enough capital on the London Stock Exchange to build the line from the coal deposits to the North Coast Line station at Benaraby about 20 km south of Gladstone and from there use Q.G.R rails to access the port.
Gradual improvements to both the Dawson and Callide branch lines eventually saw trains of 750 ton gross moving coal from the Moura and Callide fields to Gladstone. For a period of time even the heavy haul bogey wagons built in Japan for the Moura Short Line filled to a lower axle load traversed the Dawson Valley branch from Moura Mine via Baralaba, Mt Morgan and Rockhampton to Gladstone from the Kianga and Callide mines.
The first official train from the new Moura Mine ran on the 21/12/67 with three 1270 class locos hauling 51 of the Japanese built VO class bogey hoppers. This train was also the first operation of a triple head train in Queensland with a length of 2577 feet and total gross weight of 3467 ton. However due to increased bridge and track wear usual services saw two 1270 class locos and a reduced number of VO wagons loaded to a lower gross weight over the existing route.
The Moura Short Line was completed three months early and the first official coal train was run on 22 January 1968 but it was a far different railway than the one the mine developers has envisioned. The original proposal was an electrified standard gauge line owned by the mining consortium completely independent of the government railway system. Failed mining projects in the past made the government wary of such a plan and the government of the day insisted the line was narrow gauge with rolling stock compatible with the existing railway as this would ensure if the project failed at least the rolling stock could be redeployed. It was also the first S class heavy haul line in the state with heavy welded rail and large scale earth works, this approach was a template for the later construction of the Goonyella line who's proponents were also pushing for overhead powered standard gauge.Trains of 4000 tons with three locos and 60 wagons were the norm and were the first regular use of heavy mainline diesels operating in multiples of three in Queensland. The new line was complemented by the construction of a new coal wharf at Barney Point in Gladstone that could stockpile coal for shipping or could load directly from train to ship. From the mid 2000’s the future of this terminal was under threat because of residents’ concerns about coal dust from the terminals stockpile blowing over the city but measures such as tree planting and wetting down the coal proved successful. A new balloon loop for unloading was completed in 2001 which included a provisioning shed for Diesel and Electric motive power.
Record flooding in the Central Queensland region in late December 2010 from Tropical Cyclone Yasi closed the line on December 29 until partially re-opened to the mines of Callide and Boundary Hill on 4th January 2011, the line further west re-opened on January 13. Mainly impacting the Clarke - Stirrat section and Earlsfield - Belldeen section.The Moura system experienced track damage again in a variety of locations on January 25th, 2013 as Tropical Cyclone Oswald dumped over 300mm of rain as it transited the region from north to south with approximately 3km of track was washed out between Stirrat-Clarke and Earlsfield. Recovery required the full replacement of all track and earthworks in these locations but unlike the 2011 floods the Mines were not impacted. The line from Boundary Hill was opened 18th February then to Moura on the 25th February.Cyclone Debbie also closed the line in late March 2017 for several weeks due to flood damage.Click this text for the report on the 2017 cyclone impacts.
© John Van Den Bosch 2021Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
Three diesels have replaced the two electric loco on the front of an Blackwater coal set to haul it through the Barney Point coal terminal on the new balloon loop with workers still in the process of erecting the overhead wires. The two mid-train electric locos are in place with their pantographs down.
The previous method of unloading trains was two four wheeled wagons with air compressors mounted on them that ran side by side next to the power poles in the picture almost to the water’s edge. The haul wagons were linked on a continuous cable and powered by an electric motor and gear system when the system needed overhaul one of the terminals front end loaders was used to tow the train through the unloader. These trains were shunted by crews from South Gladstone to and from the unloading pit. The old system was only designed to unload trains of around 55 to 65 wagons long so when the electric trains started to unload coal at the terminal they had to be split in half to be unloaded then reassembled with mid train locos and brake tested.
The terminal has the advantage of being able to stockpile the coal or load it straight onto the ship from the train which was the case with this train. You may also notice that the wagons have boards welded to the top of the sides the crews call them "hungry boards" and allow the wagons to carry more coal but not all the existing wagons in the fleet can be modified in this way. Just to the left out of shot is where the provisioning shed for the motive power will be located to serve the new loop and allow trains to avoid going to Callemondah for servicing. 15/07/00 4.20pm
2139 + 2130 + 2152 arrives at Queensland Alumina Ltd with a load of steaming coal from Boundary Hill mine on the Moura Line. The coal is used in the plants boilers to generate process steam for the refining of Bauxite into Alumina. The Alumina (white powder) is then shipped to Aluminum Smelters around the world to be made into Aluminum. The coal was also used in some of the ships that transport the Bauxite from Weipa to Gladstone in a modern version of a steam boiler and turbine.The locos are not needed to unload the train instead a cable haul system with an air compressor is used to slowly move the wagons over the unloading pit and the compressor provides air for the bottom doors to open and close. In 2017 push pull sets with a 4000 class loco have taken over this duty and I would assume the cable system is redundant. 23/07/00
2137 leads its train over the Byellee flyover that allows trains to enter the arrival tracks at Callamondah yard from the Moura line without blocking the busy North Coast Line just past the flyover the NCL crosses the Calliope River on two single track bridges 10/5/200. Prior to the construction of the Moura Short Line this location was known as Boyne Valley Junction with Byellee station between the line to Monto and the North Coast Line.
4158 leads a loaded train towards Callemondah Yard on the right you can see the reinstalled line allowing trains to head north on the North Coast Line. 16/03/2020
2144F with another light axle load loco lead a loaded limestone train down the grade on the Moura Line into South Gladstone yard. To the right is the North Coast Line leading south and on the left is the long spur line to Queensland Alumina to receive coal for its boilers and previously limestone by rail as well. A distributed power empty coal train waits for its next run at South Gladstone Yard after unloading at Queensland Alumina. Built to stage loads and empties for the Moura Line and service the Barney Point Coal terminal loaded trains would arrive and the locos would detach and go to the diesel sheds between South Gladstone and Gladstone Stations for servicing. The South Gladstone shunt crew would then push loads back to Barney Point and retrieve empties and make up outbound trains. Even though the terminal is now not used to handle coal these distributed power trains are still using the provisioning shed there to service the locos.The following photos of the Moura Line are in order from Gladstone to Moura or east to west. A northbound Pacific National train approaching the Mercury Street level crossing not far from my home, many people refer to it as the Gladstone Bypass but it is indeed the Moura Line.
Stowe Loop Stowe is the first crossing loop west of Callamondah Yard and is the end of the original formation of the Boyne Valley Branch from Gladstone, from here to Moura the line is all new. Stowe crossing loop was longer than the other crossing loops before the 2007 upgrade so no extension was needed. The crossing track itself is not parallel to the main like all the other loops, instead it meanders through the bush hidden from the main line.From Callamondah to Stowe the line is mostly level but then the line drops down a steep grade to Graham which is the location name for the junction with the Monto Line, the line is mostly level from there to Stirrat with a few creek crossings thrown in for good measure. During the construction of the Monto Line gold was discovered near Stowe and many workers left to dig for gold and the progress of the line was delayed for several months until the gold ran out and the workers returned.
2137 leading a loaded train at the same location as the photo below on the opposite of the line circa 1996.
2182 passing through Beecher as it clears the Up Approach for Byellee. The signal protects the junction at the north end of Callamondah Yard where trains can continue on the Moura Line to Barney Point terminal or across the Byellee Flyover of the North Coast Line to Callamondah Yard which would give trains access to Gladstone Power Station or Clinton Coal Terminal. 03/05/07
A loaded four unit train waiting at the Up Starter on the mainline for a cross with the empty train pictured above. Note the extra high signal mast to allow crews to sigh it easily on this curved section. 14/04/07
After crossing with a loaded train 2207 leads its train out of the loop at Stowe, this shot was taken from the Bruce Highway overpass. 21/04/07
2486H with twelve loaded VLO steel hoppers climbing Stowe Bank on its way back to Gladstone with a load of limestone for Queensland Alumina Limited. 15.00 12/10/04This was the usual standard train set for this service run several times a week, these hoppers are some of the original VO hoppers imported from Japan for the Moura Line coal traffic.
2473D leads the Taragoola to Fisherman's Landing limestone train up Stowe Bank and is about to pass under the Bruce Highway at the western end of Stowe Loop. Too long to be loaded at Taragoola the train was loaded at a new siding about three hundred meters east called Cement Australia siding. 03/07/07
During October the combination of warm humid days and clear nights produces some very foggy mornings and I was hoping to catch a train in one of these fogs. After a few false starts I got my wish on the Moura Line near Calliope. The fog was so thick it wet the rails and prevented another train from leaving the loop at Stirrat because the drivers couldn't see the signals. This photo shows 4004 + 4009 with a load of coal from Moura stalled for the third time on Stowe Bank about one hundred and fifty meters from the crest. The stall was a combination of wet rail and the locos using all the sand in the small reservoirs mounted on the bogies. After coming to a stop and applying the brakes the crew went back to the second loco to retrieve its emergency sand. The sand was contained in two clear twenty-liter water containers, the crew hauled them to the lead loco and poured them into the sand boxes, once completed the crew again gently applied the power and with a bit of sand under their feet the locos pulled away and once over the crest the train rapidly accelerated towards Gladstone arriving about 07.00. It had taken a bit over and hour to climb the bank which shows just how much the locos a burdened with to get the maximum amount of tonnage over the line with the least amount of equipment. 06.30 Friday 09/10/04
Looking from Hooke Road across part of Stowe Park Brahman Stud we see three classic 2100's in Q.R blue and white. This train stalled on the grade and backed all the way to the previous photos location to get speed for the second attempt. March 1995
An empty coal train headed by 2160 runs down Stowe Bank towards Graham the junction with the Monto Line. The blue and white striped triangle is an approach beacon used to alert crews that a lighted approach signal is about to come into view. 9th October 2004 07.40
2144F and 2143F pulling thirty loaded VLO wagons onto the Moura Line it finished loading at 08.30 and called for new train orders and changed its train number to 9LL2 and departed Taragoola about five minutes later with a gross weight of 2300 ton. It proceeded to Graham which is where the Monto Line departs the Moura Line. It stopped to notify control then proceeded onto the Moura Line at 09.11. 28/09/2004
With the removal of the Line from Graham to Monto during most of 2019 and to Taragoola traffic going to road haul the junction was removed in December 2019.
After crossing Leixlip Creek two rebuilt 2250 class and a 4000 class are about to start the climb up Stowe Bank with a load of coal for Gladstone. The curve is featured at the rear of the train in the next photo. 16/04/2007
Guess who got a drone in 2018, 4034 and a sister unit on the rear running in a pull-push configuration starting their run up Stowe Bank. Trains in this set up are serving the two large domestic customers in Gladstone, Queensland Alumina and Rio Tinto Yarwun refinery. You can tell it has been a dry winter in October 2018.
Empty coal train approaching Schilling Lane on its way west for another load, about 2/3 of the way back you can see the Up approach signal for Graham and in the background the small green hill is the crest of the grade at Stowe. January 2007
A 4000 class coal train just east of Deep Creek bridge, the curve in the track is where the new Down Approach signal has been relocated for the upgrade of the line for longer trains. 31/05/07
A loaded train crossing Deep Creek about one kilometer east of Stirrat, the old Down Approach signal was located to the right of this photo just over the bridge. The new Approach signal is several hundred meters further east. 16/06/07
A loaded train waits on the main line for a cross with a empty train headed by two 4000 class locos. This photo was taken at the east end of the siding where the only thing to change for the loop extension was the relocation of the Down Approach signal.25/01/07
Before the 1996 line upgrade the crossing loops were controlled by CTC signaling but the points were not powered and trains had to run slowly through the trailing points but with the upgrade average speed is greatly increased.
4165 with 4030 on the rear waiting to cross with a empty Moura bound train. 10/03/21
Two rebuilt locos of the 2250 class with a 4000 class loco lead an empty train through the old section of Stirrat Loop. As you can see the new track for the loop is in place and ready to be cut in. The Down Starter signals will remain as intermediate signals to warn crews of the signal aspect of the new Down starter signals at the end of the new loop around the bend. The short siding to the left is used to store defective rolling stock or track machines. 6/16/07
The new loop track is down and the points installed but not connected as crews are busy installing the new Down Starter signals and around the bend the new Up Home signal. The new loop length signs are installed but covered with black plastic. 17/05/07
A loaded coal train approaches the level crossing shown in the previous picture before the construction of the new signals. In the photo below you can see the UP home signal is set for the siding for the load to wait for the arrival of an empty. 17/01/07
Several kilometers west of Stirrat a loaded train passing through the dry over grazed scrub, in the last ten years many hobby farms have been springing up along this section. Many of them are just a stone throw from the line and some of them are even using the lines formation as a way to access their property rather than their driveways. I am sure there are a few crews who have had a scare over the last few years. 10/05/07
Train 6868 on a very early return to Gladstone from Biloela, this train carried mostly meat from the They’s Brothers meat works in Biloela as well as seasonal cotton traffic.Although the area received good summer rain in 2007 the rest of the state did not fare so well with a much reduced supply of cattle to the meat works leading to shorter trains and on some days not run at all. This train is the result of a threat in the late 1990's to close the line and freight depot in Biloela because the government of the day considered it unviable.The local community was told to "use it or lose it" they chose to use it and many businesses committed freight to the line. Unlike many communities who have given up on their railway this community actively searched to put freight on the rails knowing that job losses and no alternative to road freight meant higher charges. Once this train reaches Gladstone extra wagons will be added for Fisherman’s Island container terminal in Brisbane.This can be one of the many things made in Gladstone from aluminum to chemicals like chlorine. The covered wagons on either end of the train house gensets to provide hotel power to the refrigerated containers. 31/03/07
4022 leads a loaded train up the grade towards Gladstone about five kilometers west of Stirrat Loop, this section of the line has several deep cuttings and winds its way through some small hills and is just back from the previous photo. 10/02/07
Track workers check the gauge before running the rail grinder over the points.17/01/07
Clarke LoopClarke Loop is another location on the Moura Line named after a prominent local family, located in the middle of the Galloway Plains with numerous creeks feeding the Calliope River to the north of the rail line. Two flooding events due to ex tropical cyclones in recent years that have closed the line for several weeks for repairs around Clark. The loop was extended in the Up direction towards Gladstone during the 2007 upgrade.
Two 4000 class locos approach the Leslie Rd level crossing after crossing Potters Rd in the background.It will be somewhere near this location that the proposed line linking to the East End Branch will depart the Moura Line and cross the Calliope River on its way to the north east. 12/07/07
A parked train waits on the loop at Clarke for it's next run to the mines 110/3/2021 4024 leading a loaded coal train through Clarke loop crossing with a parked empty coal train that has a loco at either end. 1/6/21
2265, 2159 and 2260 at Clarke climb the small hump on the western third of the loop. Above the headlights of the lead loco in the background is where the line crests the Calliope Range at Mt Rainbow. 14/08/07
An empty Down train passing through Clarke Loop, six months later and you will be lucky to see one 4000 class loco or the large capacity wagons as they had been diverted to the Blackwater System. In their place are trains such as the one below that were the usual consist before the introduction of the 4000 class trains in 1996. 2007
4038 and 4016 with 4024 out of sight forty-four wagons back in this eighty-six wagons set head west over Maxwelton Creek several kilometers west of Clarke. At the time this photo was taken it was the only DP train operating on the line after the loop extension program completion, two seventy-five wagon sets hauled by four leading locos also began operation when the loop extension project was completed. By late August 2007 the new loader at Moura Mine was in action and began to make short work of loading trains with a maximum capacity of 5000 TPH. 14/08/07
Fry LoopFry is located at the base of the Dawes Range and was named after a prominent farming family in the area. It can be a busy place as empty trains wait for loaded trains to make the restricted 40 km/h descent from Mt Rainbow. During the 2007 Loop Extension Project the loop was extended in the Down direction towards Moura. The series of photos below start near Maxwelton Creek to the east of the loop and progress to the west towards Moura.
2270, 2263 and 2203 pull a load about halfway between Fry and Clarke, above the fourth wagon you can see one of the cuttings on the climb up the Calliope Range to Mt Rainbow Loop. The end of the train curves back towards the Dawson Highway overpass where the next photo was taken. 10/05/07
2269, 2209 and 2285 lead a loaded coal train towards the Dawson Highway underpass about two kilometers east of Fry Loop. The sun is not high enough to light the train but Mount Redshirt in the background is basking in the dawn glow. As you can see the photo below Down Approach signal has been moved and is now located on the other side of the underpass. 20/07/07
This seventy-five wagon train is bound for Moura Mine and will make easy work of the grades up the hill in its empty state. 14/08/07
Mt RainbowMount Rainbow is the highest point on the Moura Line at 297 meters above sea level; it is situated between the Calliope Range to the north and the Dawes Range to the south. Trains often cross here due to the long climbs on either side of the loop that slow trains considerably. The long grade down to Fry Loop towards Gladstone is covered by a 40km/h speed limit for block trains to help prevent runaways. The line west to Moura follows Bells Creek down the west slope of the range crossing the creek three times before reaching Dumgree Loop which is located on a flat shelf on the south side of the valley wall. As part of the loop extension project in 2007 Mt Rainbow Loop was lengthened in the Up direction towards Gladstone. Higher than normal Up Starter signals were installed to allow crews to sight them as the end of the loop is now on the grade down the Calliope Range.
A loaded train heading towards Gladstone down the Mt Rainbow - Fry section just west of Mt Rainbow, taken from the Dawson Highway it is an attempt to show the extent of the earthworks needed to build this section. At the time of construction they were the largest ever undertaken by the Queensland Railways Department at the time.
2265, 2159 and 2260 start down the long grade from Mt Rainbow to Fry, the old Mt Rainbow Loop was straight and level with the Up Starter signals near where this train disappears behind the hill. The driver has the speed pinched back and the dynamic brake fans are starting to whine as the load starts to apply force to the locos. The maximum speed for trains down the grade here is 40kmh 14/08/07
4040 with 4021 on the rear lead a loaded train through Mt Rainbow late in the afternoon this particular train changed crews at Annandale Loop. 23/05/2021
A rare event in 2007 two 4000 class trains cross at Mt Rainbow, the down train on the right is just passing the Up Starter signals. Towards the rear of this train you can see some of the construction work for the loop extension.
2183 leads a loaded train up the hill towards the loop. The first bridge over Bells Creek is out of shot to the rear of the train and is not much more than a single cement span. You can hear trains grinding up the grade for a good ten minutes before they arrive.
After listening to it for 15 minutes climbing the grade from Dumgree loop about 9 km away 2463 leads 52 hoppers over Bells Creek No 2 Bridge on the up grade to Mt Rainbow loop at the top of the Dawes Range about 100 kilometers from Gladstone.1.45pm 30/8/99
4004 heading west with an empty train through a series of cuttings in the most narrow section of the valley made by Bells Creek. About ten wagons back is Bell Creek No2 Bridge a large five span bridge allowing the line to vault across the creek it follows most of the way from Mt Rainbow to Dumgree.02/02/07
Dumgree LoopDumgree is located on the north slope of the Callide Range on a flat shelf overlooking Bells Creek. The Moura Line follows the creek to ease the grade for loaded trains up to the highest point on the line at Mt Rainbow to the east.Much of the ballast for the line was excavated from a pit next to the loop, the pit once featured a siding to load ballast wagons but it was disconnected after the 1996 upgrade and torn up in late 2007.The line west to Annandale is mostly deep cuttings and high fills to maintain the gentle grade for loaded trains.The line to Mt Rainbow crosses Bells Creek three times as it snakes its way along the valley it forms before the countryside spreads out near the top of the climb near Mt Rainbow.
The same train shown climbing the grade three km south of Mt Rainbow is shown here about another five km west of that location approaching Inverness Road.The building in the background is Inverness Station a cattle property that predates the railway. 12/07/07
2207 and brothers lay on the power as they begin the climb up the grade to Mt Rainbow. To the left of the train is Bells Creek which the line follows to the crest of the range, to the rear of the train is Bell Creek No.3 bridge the longest and highest on the line at 144 meters long and 15 meters above the creek bed. You will also notice the new approach signal under construction to allow larger trains to run on the line.16/04/07 11.00
4027 leads train 9QJ1 to Moura Mine over the new section of Dumgree loop to the east of the existing loop, behind the trees in the left of the photo is where the new points and signals are located. It is not common to see 4000 class locos pulling a smaller train such as this one, when loaded this train will at most be 4700 ton gross. This train crossed with train 9Z09 from Boundary Hill mine featured in a photo below headed by 2255 at Mt Rainbow at about 08.15.05/07/07 08.47
Train 9WK9 for Boundary Hill slowly heading down the main line after encountering a signal fault at the Down Home signal that threw it into emergency. Waiting in the loop at the Down starter to the rear of this train is a empty thirteen wagon ballast train worked by 1729 and 2484 that has been dropping ballast along the line from Belldeen to Dumgree for most of the day.And waiting at the UP home signal is train 9ZJ9 from Callide Mine with 2262, 2160D, 2202 and 2203D with 58,105 ton wagons.Once the empty clears the points the ballast will depart and 9ZJ9 will pull into the loop and then 9WK9 will depart. 05/07/07 17.19
9ZJ2 draws into the loop in the late afternoon sun to wait for the ballast train to clear the section to Mt Rainbow.
Train 9Z09 running hard through Dumgree 15 minutes after departing Boundary Hill mine. In the background over the locos you can see he ballast workings that provided most of the ballast for the line. This train will be sighted again at 16.00 here at Dumgree returning to Moura for another load.05/07/07 07.28
2203D, 2154 and 2207 head for Moura Mine after crossing with the loaded train pictured below at Dumgree. This photo and the one below were taken only 200 meters apart and show the difficulties faced with the lines construction. 16/04/07 12.20
Annandale LoopAnnandale Loop is located where the Moura line crests the Callide Range in quite a scenic area with the Boundary Hill mine located just to the south and the line leading to its loading loop departs just to the eastern end of the crossing loop. The loop was extended to 2300 meters in 2007 and shaped like a backward S, the extension was in the Up or east direction and ends just short of the junction with the Boundary Hill Mine Branch. The branch is 5.6 km long and was opened in 1983 to serve the thermal coal mine for domestic and export consumption, due to the thickness of the seams the coal here is not washed before loading onto trains. Loaded trains use a series of S-curves to ease the grade up from Earlsfeild while to the east there is only a slight drop to Dumgree.
2205D, 2256 and 2180 lead a loaded train from Moura Mine across the high fill and into the cutting shown in the picture above at the 115 km post.16/04/07 11.45 Moura Mine bound empty running through the east end of Annandale Loop. 21/04/07 A loaded train heads down the grade at Annandale Loop, about ten wagons back is where the old Up starter signals and points were located. The photo below of the same train is a bit further along the line closer to the new points and signals.17/06/07
A empty train passing through the loop on its way west while work continues on the extension. You can see the crane to be used for lifting the new points into position and you can also see the Up starter signals of the existing loop. 13/03/07
After photographing this train at Belldeen I raced across the valley to get this shot at Annandale, at the same spot as the previous photo just on the other side of the line looking west. 22/04/07
A Moura train on the s-curve at the Up approach signal to Annandale Loop. You can see the new loop length posts in place showing 2300 meters making it more of a passing lane than a crossing loop. 12/07/07
4045 and 4123 with mid train locos 4020 and 4037 grind up the grade into Annandale Loop, Feb 2020.
I spotted this train at Earlsfield waiting to get off the Callide Branch and once I got it entering the Moura Line I raced up the red dirt to Annandale Loop to get some photos. You don't really appreciate the elegant design the builders used to ease the grade with a series of S curves. 4040 with 4021 on the rear push upgrade towards Annandale Loop. 23/05/2021
After crossing with an empty at Earlsfeild a trainload of Callide Mine coal grinds away up the grade as it approaches Pitt Road about halfway between Earlsfeild and Annandale. 31/03/07
Just north of Pitt Road an empty Moura bound train glides down the grade after crossing a loaded train from Moura Mine at Annandale loop. Wild flowers are popping up all over the place due to some welcome winter rain. 28/08/07
Earlsfeild and The Callide Branch Earlsfeild (128km) is the former junction site of the Moura Short Line heading east to west and Callide Branch heading north to south. The Moura line spelled the end to the Callide Branch from Mt Morgan and only some of the original line remains today serving Biloela (now closed) and Callide Mine to the south as well as a grain silo to the north of Earlsfeild at Koorngoo. The line to Koorngoo was severed in the mid 2010's at Earlsfield but the line still remains with many bridges destroyed by floods.During construction of the line a large tent city popped up at the site and after completion a large track maintenance workforce remained to keep the line going. Today most rail workers are based in Biloela and only one structure at the site has been demolished. After a crew change at the Jambin-Dakenba Rd level crossing a Moura train starts the climb up the hill to Annandale to cross with an empty. The crop is in and the stubble is left to retain moisture on this very fertile area. 20/10/07 Three rebuilt Clyde-GM locos of the 2250 class slow for a speed restriction near the Up Approach signal for the three way junction at Earlsfeild next to Jambin-Dakenba road level crossing.The signal post is located about where the old Callide Valley Branch crossed the Moura Line at grade. To the right of the train the crop is going well and the Callide Valley will have a good 2007 unlike most of the country.To the rear of the train is the Burnet Highway overpass and the bridge over Callide Creek. 13/03/07 The same train looking east.
After waiting at the signal for a green a loaded Moura train is about to cross Jambin - Dakenba road. 2019
Train 6868 on the way back to Gladstone from Biloela on the Callide Branch approaching Earlsfeild from the south. In the background is Earlsfield Loop one of two on the branch.As you can see the loop has RCS signals but not powered points instead it retains its trailing facing points. From the southern end or Down end of the loop the line is under DTC control. Trains usually stop to undergo safe work procedures before proceeding down or off the Callide Branch.13/03/07
The meat train rounds the curve at Earlsfeild to join the Moura Line, it is the same train as shown approaching Argoon. 4035 leading a loaded train through Earlsfield Loop to cross with an empty train headed by three older units. 31/03/2000
21 years after the above photo 4040 with 4021 on the rear wait for the signals to exit the Callide Branch with a load from Callide Mine. 23/5/2021
Callide Branch on the left, Moura Line in the middle and the remnants of the line to Jambin on the right.
After pausing at Koonkool Loop for Train Orders, empty train 9RK6 with 2210, 2204D and 2161D proceeds south to load at Callide Mine. 20/07/07
Just south of Argoon 4015 leads a load from Callide Mine 31/3/2007
Four 2250 Class locos with 56 loaded wagons from Callide Mine a few kilometers north of Dakenba 05/07/2007
Three 2250 class locos snake their train through the scrub a few kilometers north of Dakenba. 05/07/2007
A loaded train from Callide Mine passing through Dakenba Loop. 31/03/2007
Two 4000 class locos have just left Dakenba Loop and are heading south on the Callide Branch to Callide Mine. 31/03/2007 Four 2250 class locos with a loaded coal train from Callide Mine have just crossed the Dawson Highway and are about to cross Dudarkos Road. 03/07/2007 Two 4000 class units slow for Dakenba Loop with a load of Callide coal. 31/03/2007 2210 with two sister units lead their train out of the loop at Dakenba with an empty for Callide Mine. 20/07/2007 6868 arrives at Dakenba Loop. 13/03/2007 The same train as he next photo just south of Dakenba Loop where the line joins the Callide Branch. The "Meat Train" 6868 departs Biloela for Gladstone with a load of refrigerated containers form the They’s Meatworks. To the left of screen is the Q-Link depot with the station building behind it, to the right is the line leading to the angle. Most trains here travel with back to back locos to avoid having to turn on the angle. 07/05/2007
The next series of photos show the remnants of the railway that were once part of the Callide Branch from Rannes to Theodore south of Biloela. Jambin is the first location north of Earlsfeild and is still standing as the walls are made of cement blocks to give termites and white ants a hard time.Just north of here the line crossed Callide Creek but after several flood events the bridges have been destroyed.
Belldeen Loop. Belldeen Loop is located on the crest the Banana Range that separates the Callide and Dawson Valleys, at 268 meters above sea level it is the second highest point on the Moura line. The rather long sections either side of the loop ensure that most of the time a load from Moura Mine will cross with an empty here. Train controllers often contact loads climbing out of the Dawson Valley to monitor their progress.Any mistakes can see long delays to trains particularly empties, the result being upset customers. The loop was extended during 2007 in the East or Up direction on the grade down into the Callide Valley the top of the grade in both directions is about 100 meters west of the Up Home signal. The decent into the Callide Valley is via Neville Creek and at some places the line has been strengthened with rock to protect it from the creeks flow. The decent into the Dawson Valley is a gentler and less twisting route via cuttings and embankments built to ease the grade for loaded trains.
A loaded Moura train approaching Davis Road level crossing about two and a half kilometers east of the photo below. The Banana Range is now a memory and the train will glide across the Callide Valley until it faces the climb out starting at Earlsfeild. 17/06/07
Taken at the Orange Creek Road level crossing a loaded train runs down the grade shown in the previous photo. The locos are at the bottom of the grade and use the trains momentum to push it up the small hill in front of it. 14/04/07
About two kilometers east of the previous photo an empty train begins to climb out of the Callide Valley by following Neville Creek up to Belldeen. The hill in the center of the photo is known as Greycliff and several kilometers east of this shot is the site of a proposed crossing loop if the line is extended to the south west. 2007
4161 leading a Moura bound train out of the Callide Valley towards Belldeen Loop, March 2021.
2254, 2255, 2264 and 2267 with a 75 wagon set run down the hill into the Callide Valley near the Dawson Highway overpass. This train is the same weight as a 56 wagon VASL set at about 5800 ton and takes advantage of the longer crossing loops. As with anything painted black they are proving hard to keep clean as you can see the light road grime stands out more on these units. 28/07/07
Passing under the Dawson Highway a empty train climbs out of the Callide Valley about three kilometers east of Belldeen. 22/04/07 After passing under the Dawson Highway an empty continues out of the Callide Valley to cross with a loaded train at Belldeen. You can just make out the loaded train waiting at the new Up starter signals for Belldeen Loop. The loaded train runs down into the Callide Valley the grade while the empty departs the loop in the background above the locomotives. 20/10/07 Taken from the Down or western end of the loop you can see the sand stained rails of the main line compared to the loop. You may also notice the stone blower in the loop tied up for the evening, tomorrow it will be used on the Moura Mine loop.The loop here also features a cattle yard but it may have been some time since cattle were loaded onto a train here. 21/04/07 Taken from the level crossing at the Up or eastern end of the loop you can see the loop extension underway as the line starts its descent into the Callide Valley. The points are delivered premade though they might be narrow gauge there is nothing lightweight about the construction of the track.21/04/07 4002 leads a loaded train down into the Callide Valley in its special QRN livery done for the official opening of the line to Rolleston about 120 km west of Moura.22/04/07 After grinding away for nearly forty minutes a heavy train of 58 VASL wagons is about to pull up and wait for a cross with an empty at Belldeen Loop. At the rear of the train the line curves away to the left for the run down into the Dawson Valley to Moura. 22/04/07 A loaded coal train passing the new points for the expanded Belldeen Loop.20/07/07 An empty train waiting in the loop at Belldeen for a four unit train to climb out of the Dawson Valley. 22/09/07 The loaded train arrives with a roar and starts down the grade into the Callide Valley. A yellow aspect protects the previous train as another train from Moura Mine headed by test units 4101 and 4102 featured in photos below struggle and eventually 4102 fails on the grade. A train of Baralaba Coal heading up the Banana Range about a kilometer west of the crest that is marked by the Up Home signal at Belldeen Loop. The train was slow to load and departed the pad with about a dozen empty wagons on the rear. The photo below taken from the same spot shows the grade it has to battle with to get up the range. 31/03/07
Looking east up the grade with a empty running fast and quiet down the grade from Belldeen Loop where the line crests the Banana Range about six kilometers away.10/02/07
Brand new 4101 and 4102 with 4038 as cover power climb Banana Bank about five minutes from 4101 suffering a fire in the inverter cabin. The crew put out the fire and started 4038 to get to the top of the grade at Belldeen Loop where the loco was cut out of the train. The units were on acceptance testing and were three days into their 1500km test in regular traffic.22/09/07
A loaded train from Moura Mine about halfway up the climb out of the Dawson Valley at the Banana Holding Road level crossing. This climb is the longest sustained grade against loaded trains on the Moura Line with an average of 1 in 85 and ensures locomotives earn their keep.22/04/07 Same location as the previous photo as seen from the west looking east. 17/06/07 4161 leading a Moura bound train over Barfield Road, 2021
Moura MineMoura Mine is the western end of the heavy haul section of the Moura System and features two coal loading points, the original mine served by a balloon loop and a more recent arrival in the form of Baralaba Coal who used a loading pad adjacent to the line into Moura about a kilometer west of Moura Mine junction. The increase in production from the Baralaba Mine has also created a need for a higher capacity transfer station from road to rail. The Moura Mine expansion expected to cost over one billion dollars and was the main driver for the upgrade of the Moura line to increase capacity. It has seen new leases being worked to the north of the rail line and Dawson Highway and heavy road trains were used to transport coal to the wash plant until a conveyor system was commissioned to the new wash plant. A new lease to the south of the existing mine is also being developed and stretches almost to Theodore. An existing proposal to rail coal from this pit via the Moura - Theodore branch has been ruled out and a combination of heavy off road transport and conveyor system over 40km long brings coal to the new wash plant and loader. The old wash plant was shut down in the afternoon of the 18th September 2007 replaced by the largest wash plant in Australia, for the moment.The existing plant was in service for 45 years and was originally built with a capacity of 2 million tons and upgraded over the years to 8 million tons by the time of shut down. While the new plant has a capacity of 13 million tones the old plant is being mothballed in case a surge in production or a shutdown requires it to come back online. 4101 and 4102 with 4038 as backup power pull through the new train loader at Moura Mine, with a capacity of 5000 T/PH the new loader makes short work of loading the smaller Moura trains. 22/09/07 The new stacker / reclaimer up and working 22/09/07 A empty train lead by 4101 and 4102 on traffic testing pull into the loop at Moura Mine as a train continues to load from the new flood loader. The photo below shows the loading train and the rear of the empty, as you can see the new stacker/ reclaimer are working and undergoing commissioning. 22/09/07 The new flood loader under construction with the old one to the rear, the photo below is the new preparation plant and stockpile area just to the right of the flood loader.Feb 2007
A train of 80 ton wagons enters Moura Mine loop to load, the line to the right continues on toward Moura. 10.02.07 After a crew change the train departs the loading pad and is seen here approaching a level crossing for Zehal Station just east of Moura Mine.20.07.07 2265 leading a heavy train of 56 104 ton VASL type wagons away from the mine. 12.07.07 A heavy road train crossing the Dawson Highway from the new pit to the north of Moura Mine and is about to stop for the rail crossing, a conveyor is under construction to transport coal to the prep plant.20.07.07 The Baralaba Coal loading pad is just west of Moura Mine on the old formation leading to Moura. Trains usually run through the balloon loop at Moura Mine to turn around then reverse back to the pad after getting DTC authority because this part of the line is not under RCS control. Coal is brought to the pad in double trailer road trains via dirt and sealed roads a distance of about forty kilometers. 2007
4043 and 4001 with an almost fully loaded train near the level crossing for the Moura Mine, it is the same train as the one pictured with the front end loaders. 20/07/07
The series of photos below show the development of the flood loader for the Baralaba Coal mine formerly known as Cockatoo Coal that replaced the previous loading pad featured above. Known as the Moura West project it consisted of around ten kilometers of new heavy haul track and a road to rail interchange including a flood loader.
Loading pad siding and the upgraded line heading to the new loading loop. The view from the Three Chain Road level crossing that accesses the nitrate plant in the previous photo. Same location looking east Junction for the loop. Track into Moura removed for service access and water pipes in 2015 and as of early 2021 have not been restored.
Flood loader under construction early 2015
Above and below, Feb 2020.
What remains of Moura Yard 2020.
© John Van Den Bosch 2021Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
This article first appeared on trainsofqueensland.blogspot.com
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