I was at South Yarra Station when this locomotive arrived pulling freight. The engine looked just like the train engine towing the carriages I used to catch from Gippsland to Melbourne in my youth but with a significant difference. The train at South Yarra did not have a pantograph on its roof to connect to electric wires. It was a diesel fuel powered train. If I catch a train to Gippsland now it will be diesel powered.
The Gippsland train once had electric overhead wires as far as Traralgon. The then State Electric Commission transported dug up coal in Gippsland,made into briquettes to make power and heating briquettes. The briquettes were transported to Melbourne by train and given the coal extraction and electricity production, it made good sense to electrify the the train line.
But the electric locomotives became old and unreliable as coal traffic reduced, to the point where a spare loco would be attached to each train to take over in case of failure of the the working loco. Things are pretty crook when you have to do that.
It is extra sad that it was a Labor government who decided to de-electrify the Gippsland train line, turning it into a diesel train line instead of commissioning new electric locos. The concrete stumps that supported the poles that supported the overhead wires are still present. One day I am sure the line will be electrified again.
When catching a suburban train at South Yarra, who would have thought a passing train would rekindle memories of the electric Gippsland train with its heated and chemical warmed foot warmers, draughty compartments, rusty and dusty old emergency train stop chains and the clunks ricocheting through the length of train as slack was taken up by couplings. Of course it fascinated me to peer down onto the tracks visible in the toilet bowl and noting signs to warn not to use the toilet at train stations. Haha, you tip the wash basin backwards to empty the water down onto the track. There were two light bulbs in each fitting ensuring you were never plunged into total darkness if one bulb failed. I can't recall ever seeing the full lights not working. Electricians who work on electric trains know their job. Overhead wire luggage racks would be filthy, the wires encased in solidified dust. Train cleaning was perfunctory at best.
I have so many memories of the old electric Gippslander train. We are away for a few days. Back soon.