Saturday, November 19, 2022

Giipsland train

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. 



 

39 comments:

  1. I remember riding the old smoky trains in West Cork all the way down to the ferry and our summers on the island off the coast, casting off shoes and dresses for the duration. My eyes would be gritty from all the deadly stuff pouring in the windows that we hung out of. And yes, you reminded me of the encrusted luggage racks and the stained doilies on the backs of seats and begrimed framed photos of all the towns and villages we passed through.......
    XO
    WWW

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    1. R remembers standing on a bridge over a now closed railway line in Newcastle and being smothered in smoke and steam. Good fun.

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  2. Enjoy your time away.
    There is something about old trains which rekindles memories isn't there. A powerful something...

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    1. Very much so EC, but I prefer modern trains now. They seem like luxury.

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  3. I know the region well though I hardly use the train service to Traralgon. I recalled there was always urine smell in the train carriage. Sometimes astry kids may threaten safety of passengers. The region was repeatedly traumatised by authority trashing over Moe, Morwell then Traralgon. Livelihood was stuffed up so badly sine 70s.

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    1. Roentare, I lived in the area in my teens. I know what you are saying about the trashing. I don’t remember the urine smell though.

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  4. I remember catching the train to Traralgon with the kids when they were very young and my parents lived in Callignee. I don't remember how it was powered but being the 90s probably diesel?
    Our first house had a briquette hot water system. We would buy them at the local servo (which then became a 7-11 and is now a maccas). If you forgot to stoke it before bed you would have a cold shower. If you stoked and forgot to close the door down you would wake at 2am to the sound of the thing boiling over. Not fun after a night on the tiles.

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    1. Caroline, yes diesel by then. I have the same memories of briquette hot water heaters.

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  5. Have fun away. We have a train trip planned.

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    1. Sandra, I am a bit excited about your train trip.

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  6. I see fancy metal luggage racks in old movies that feature a little train travel and they are always brightly polished. Pity that doesn't happen in real life.
    You're away again?

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    1. Yes River, away again spending our untold wealth.

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  7. Enjoy your time away. Nice memories of the train.

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  8. Well I never heard of Gippsland before. I thought it might be a town but it is a region. Before you go swanning off once again please tell me what a "gipp" is. I am guessing that it is an obscure marsupial but the kind Victoria government have made a reserve for it - hence, Gippsland.

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    1. I think Gipps was a state or colonial governor YP. No doubt there will be a statue of him somewhere.

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  9. Noone ever wants their own government to make public mistakes, especially when environmental protection and climate control are threatened. I would NEVER vote for a Conservative party, if they were the only party on the ballot paper. However de-electrifying a country train line and turning it into a diesel train line was a political cockup.

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    1. It was Hels. I could never vote for an anti worker pro big business party.

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  10. 300 miles on trains yesterday, went to have lunch with an old friend who was at a conference in Philadelphia.

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    1. That's quite a trip TP. It sounds like you enjoyed it.

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  11. You can see the train tracks through the toilets?

    Am I interpreting this correctly and the tracks are spotted with human waste product?

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    1. Correct Kirk. It was only a couple of years ago the last of those disappeared in the UK. Can still be found elsewhere.

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  12. I've been on trains where the tracks are visible through the toilets. Always a little disconcerting. I think about how we used to walk along train lines and collect rocks when I was a kid. God only knows what they had on them.

    Have a good break!

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    1. We did the same Steve but not the rock collecting.

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  13. We are about 10 miles south of where Amtrak transitions from diesel to electric.

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  14. What a strange decision, in light of the direction the world is marching off in. The toilet thing fascinated me as well. Who knew?

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  15. Trains are fascinating in all their variety and function. Be well and stay safe!

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    1. Darla, they changed our lives and countries in unimaginable ways when they appeared.

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  16. Hopeful I will get chance to post some old train photos, once I retire. My dad side were railroad people.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. As I remember about your dad, Dora. I look forward to that.

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  17. You brought back memories. The dust encrusted wire overhead racks, the clunking the entire length of the train...have a nice getaway!

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    1. Strayer, they are nice memories to have but I prefer modern trains.

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  18. I used to enjoy long train trips....but haven't had one in many years. Have a good holiday Andrew.

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