Railway Digest January 2017 E-Copy

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Cattle trains return to Oakey
Many local residents and media turned out on Wednesday, 30 November to photograph and welcome the first cattle train to traverse a reopened and rebuilt 1.3 kilometre section of the closed Oakey – Cecil Plains line and reach Oakey Beef Exports’ meatworks, located on the western edge of Oakey, 30 kilometres west of Toowoomba. The first train, which left Quilpie the previous day carrying 880 head of cattle, was the culmination of a four-year campaign to have the line reopened. John Hoyle was there to join the celebrations.

Travel on the Westlander
Rumours have been rife for quite a while that QR’s long distance service The Westlander may be on the way out, due to high running costs and a lack of patronage. Recent evidence suggests it to be, per capita, the most heavily subsidised of all Queensland Rail’s Traveltrains. It travels from Roma Street Station, Brisbane, to Charleville in south west Queensland, taking some 17 hours to travel the 777 km distance. Seasoned traveller Robert Gill thought it may be wise to take a trip on The Westlander while he still had the chance.

The Streamliners have their day in the sun
The May 2016 closure of Alinta Energy’s Northern Power Station, at Stirling North in South Australia, left a large number of coal wagons surplus to requirements. Southern Shorthaul Railroad (SSR) took the opportunity to purchase 180 of these wagons, through its subsidiary Consolidated Rail Leasing, for use on coal and (after conversion) grain traffic in NSW. What made the transfer operation exciting for railfans, as Ewan McLean reports, was the use of quadruple and quintuple sets of veteran Clyde/EMD Streamliners on each of the two 90-wagon trains.

ARTC and SSR combine for mainline loading at Milguy
Two trains, each carrying around 2500 tonnes of chick peas loaded on the main line at Milguy, on the Moree–North Star line in north west NSW in November/December 2016, were the culmination of collaboration between farmers Stuart and Lyndall Tighe, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Southern Shorthaul Railroad (SSR). The initiative also illustrated some of the changes that are happening in Australian grain growing, marketing and transport. John Hoyle reports.