Isn't this just the most fabulous work of art! November 1937 until April 1962
The train is known as the Southern Aurora. It was a luxury train to the Victorian and New South Wales border town of Albury and began service in 1937. At Albury a change of trains was required to continue to Sydney. The reason for this was Victoria used the Irish broad gauge train track distance between the two rails, 1600mm or 1.6 metres. Victoria's dominant railway engineer was Irish born and would nothing to do with the English rail system. Broad gauge is superior but not widely used, the Betamax of train gauges if you like. Yes, you are old enough to get that.
New South Wales however used standard gauge, 1435mm, so a change of trains was required at the border town of Albury.
There are some terrific quotes US writer Mark Twain made about Australia and this is one of them about his train trip from Melbourne to Sydney. His sleep was interrupted at midnight by the need to change trains at Albury. Here is his quote:
“The strangest thing, the unaccountable marvel that Australia can show, namely the break of gauge at Albury. Think of the paralysis of (parliamentary) intellect that gave that idea birth.”
By 1962 a standard gauge track had been built so the need to change trains at Albury ceased. Sometime in 50s the steam train was replaced by a diesel powered train.
In the 80s the Southern Aurora was combined with the other Sydney Melbourne service, the Spirit of Progress to form the imaginatively named Sydney/Melbourne Express. The service is not called the XPT, I guess express train. It is anything but, if XPT sounds like speed.
Photo from the Border Mail. The train looks very old fashioned.
Now I have a little vested interest in this train service as we are using it in the near future. Today I thought I would see how well the service performed. I just hope today was one of those days where everything went wrong and is not normal. The trains are old, dating back to the 80s, and I guess unreliable. Unused new trains are sitting in yards in Sydney to replace the old trains but there are 'issues'.
The Melbourne bound train from Sydney broke down at Seymour and it took about three hours to repair. I believe this overnight train that arrives at Southern Cross Station at 7.30 forms the 8.30 day train to Sydney. Cleary that wouldn't happen and later I discovered the train had been replaced by a coach the full distance from Melbourne to Sydney.
The day train from Sydney is due at 18.30 and as I type at 18.12, it is 40 minutes late. I guess it forms the 19.50 overnight train to Sydney so it should depart on time.
Oh no, but fortunately the suburb is not too far away. "Due to a fatality at Tullamarine, this service is replaced by road coaches from Melbourne to Broadmeadows. At Broadmeadows passengers will join the XPT train for the remainder of their journey."
I'll be keeping a close eye on the train for the next couple of days.