Photos from ten years ago: December 2008

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is December 2008, where I spent the month travelling around Victoria on the hunt for trains to photograph.

Roadtrip!

I started my journey in the south-west down at Camperdown, where I caught up with this short train made up of just two empty flat wagons.

Waiting for the cross at Camperdown

The train was on the way back to Melbourne, having been abandoned in Warrnambool after the end of El Zorro’s ill fated attempt at running the Warrnambool freight service.

I then headed east, pausing at the dive that was Westall station. With only two platforms, the only access was via a pedestrian crossing at the down end, and the timber station buildings were missing thanks to an arson attack.

Down end of Westall station, looking up the line past the platforms

Today the station is a grand monolith, completed in 2011 at a cost of $151 million – with a third platform for terminating trains, and an overhead footbridge providing access over the tracks.

I also paused at a red brick traction substation and overhead wires on the main Gippsland line at Bunyip.

Preserved 1950s red brick traction substation and overhead wiring at Bunyip

Constructed in the 1950s as part of the electrification of the main Gippsland railway line, as part of the first main line electrification project in Australia. Electrification was cut back to Warragul in 1987, to Bunyip in 1998, before ceasing entirely beyond Pakenham in 2001.

The wires and substation were removed in 2004, except for the substation and a short section of overhead at Bunyip, which are covered by a heritage listing.

I then headed for the South Gippsland Railway, where heritage trains once operated along the former Leongatha railway.

Getting the staff at Loch

I rode the train to the end of the line at Nyora.

End of the line at Nyora

Then back to the other end at Leongatha.

Sitting in the platform at Leongatha

The railway disbanded in 2016, due to a lack of volunteer labour.

I also headed into the Latrobe Valley on the search for freight trains.

My first find at the Australian Paper mill in Morwell, where containers were being loaded for the trip to the Port of Melbourne.

H4 leading T402 and A78 awaits departure from Maryvale

It still runs today, taking hundreds of trucks off the Monash Freeway each day.

I also headed further east to Bairnsdale, where I found a train being loaded with logs.

The locos run around at Bairnsdale

Then followed it back to Melbourne, where I caught it at Stratford, crossing the timber bridge over the Avon River.

Excavator for work on the Avon River bridge, log flats up top

The train transported cut logs to the Midway woodchip mill at Geelong, where they would be sent to the paper mills of Japan. The native forests of Gippsland are still being logged today, but the train no longer runs – the timber is transported by road instead.

As for the timber bridge over the Avon River, it is still there today, but the state government is funding a $95 million replacement, which will allow the 10 km/h speed limit to be raised.

A ‘powerful’ diversion

While in the Latrobe Valley I also toured Victoria’s aging fleet of brown coal fired power stations.

I started at the PowerWorks visitors centre in Morwell, where a retired coal dredger is preserved.

Dredger 21 outside PowerWorks in Morwell

As well as a narrow gauge electric locomotive once used in the Yallourn open cut mine.

'62 Ton' electric locomotive No. 125 plinthed outside the PowerWorks centre in Morwell

Then I went past Energy Brix briquette plant next door.

Southern side of the Energy Brix briquette plant at Morwell

Which closed in 2014.

Then across to the Hazelwood power station.

Old school power at Hazelwood

Back then the ‘West Field’ expansion of the open cut brown coal mine was underway, with a number of roads being closed to make room for the future hole.

Brodribb Road still closed

But that effort didn’t really pay off – the aging dinosaur of a power station closed in 2017.

Still hanging on is the Yallourn W power station, completed in 1973-1982.

Looking up at the Yallourn Power Station chimneys

And the Loy Yang power station and and open cut mine.

Overview of Loy Yang power station and and open cut mine

In addition to the slightly cleaner gas turbine plant at Jeeralang.

Main entrance to Jeeralang Power Station

And an interesting piece of technology – the Loy Yang Static Inverter Plant, the Victorian end of the Basslink high voltage DC undersea transmission line that connects Tasmania to the national electricity grid.

Loy Yang Static Inverter Plant for the Basslink HVDC transmission line

Headed north

I then headed back on the trail of trains, heading over to Seymour where work had started on the gauge conversion of the railway north to Albury.

Trackwork on the north east line at the down end of Seymour

I also followed a special train operated by the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre to Tocumwal.

Running N460 around the train at Tocumwal for the push pull shuttle

With Santa saving from the rear platform.

Santa waves on arrival into Shepparton

Captured a V/Line train passing the since removed mechanical signals at Kilmore East.

Sprinter 7002 with classmate depart Kilmore East on the down

Passed the crummy facilities that passed for a station at Donnybrook.

Carriage set VSH26 departs Donnybrook

And saw gravel being loaded into a train, ready to be transported by rail to concrete plants across Melbourne, instead of a fleet of trucks.

G524 being loaded at Kilmore East

I then headed west, to photograph a V/Line train at Ballan station.

VLocity VL09 pauses for passengers on a down service at Ballan station

It won’t look like the above very longer – a second platform and overhead footbridge is now under construction.

I also stopped in at Deer Park.

Work on the Deer Park Bypass was underway, making it quicker for people in Melbourne’s west to drive towards the city, as well as for trucks transporting interstate freight.

Work continues on a bridge to carry the Deer Park Bypass over the tracks

But no investment was coming for Deer Park station. Once part of the main route between Melbourne and Adelaide, bidirectional signalling was provided so that faster moving passenger trains could overtake the far heavier and slower freight trains.

Signals and darkened skies at Deer Park

But only a gravel platform was provided for passengers, visited by a V/Line train every two hours, if that.

Gravel covered platform at Deer Park

It took until 2015 for the poor level of service to be fixed, following the completion of Regional Rail Link.

But unfortunately the cost cutting to the project saw the bidirectional signalling removed, resulting in major delays to V/Line services every time a train breaks down in the section.

Two steps forward, another back?

Another place on the fringe of Melbourne’s urban sprawl is Diggers Rest, which back then was only served by V/Line services.

Three car VLocity 3VL41 picks up passengers at Diggers Rest

As was Sunbury, which saw a number of V/Line shortworkings terminate there in order to pump up the frequency to something worth using.

VLocity VL02 left behind on the platform at Sunbury, as the other four cars head for Echuca

The $270 million electrification of the Sunbury line was completed in 2012, seeing suburban trains extended to the town, but but many of the locals weren’t happy – they preferred waiting around on a cold platform then ride a comfortable V/Line train.

And back to Geelong

Finally, we end close to home at Geelong.

I visited the remains of the Fyansford cement works.

Remains of the Fyansford cement works limestone conveyor belt

The silos were still in place.

Silos still in place at the Fyansford cement works

As were the railway sidings once used to despatch the finished product.

Down end of Fyansford Yard looking to the cement works, now getting overgrown

But the cement kilns at the base of the hill were long gone.

Remediating the side of the former Fyansford cement works

Today the silos are still there, but the tracks were removed in 2011, and the rest of the site redeveloped as houses.

I found a VLocity train bound for Marshall station, heading through an unprotected level crossing.

Vlocity passes through an unprotected level crossing of DOOM!

Rather than upgrade the crossing, in 2008 it was closed to vehicle traffic.

At North Shore I captured The Overland westbound for Adelaide.

NR82 westbound at North Shore with a five carriage long consist

The newly refurbished train had entered service in mid-2008 in an attempt to reinvigorate the dying service, but it doesn’t do much good – it was almost cancelled in 2015 following an impasse over funding, with it now set to end in 2018 after SA government declined to extended the arrangement further.

The rollout of ‘Parkiteer’ bike cages at railway stations had started, with South Geelong receiving one.

New 'Parkiteer' bike cage

Platform extension works were also underway.

Placing platform facing for platform extension

In September 2008 then Minister for Public Transport, Lynne Kosky, announced that longer trains would be deployed to the Geelong line, requiring platform extension works.

These trains continued to run until June 2015, when Geelong trains commenced using the new Regional Rail Link tracks and the trains were cut back to just six cars in length.

And finally after years of trying, I was finally in the right place at the right time and captured the daily V/Line overtaking move outside Geelong.

And comes out the other side...

Until 2015 on the Geelong line, two V/Line services would depart Geelong each morning a few minutes apart. The first train would stop all stations, while the second train would run express to Melbourne, overtaking the slower train.

Finding this overtaking point was more art than science – even a 30 second delay to either train could move it a kilometre or so down the line, so all I could do was pick a spot lineside, and hope that I wouldn’t have to come back another day to try again.

Footnote

Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.

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2 Responses to “Photos from ten years ago: December 2008”

  1. Paul OConnor says:

    Marcus,
    is the Disused overbridge on Hazelwood Drive, Morwell, still in situ? I intend to get down that way soon and do a bit of camping and look over the abandoned infrastructure.

    Regards,

    Paul O’Connor

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