Two trains in one platform at Camperdown

Camperdown station on the Warrnambool line only has a single platform, in the middle of a long section of single track railway – but until December 2022 every morning the Melbourne-bound and Warrnambool-bound V/Line services would cross there. The answer is a “reverse cross” – but how did it work?

N463 pauses for passengers with the down Warrnambool pass at Camperdown

The “reverse cross”

The V/Line train from Warrnambool would be the first to arrive at Camperdown.

N471 leads carriage set VN14 into Camperdown on an up Warrnambool service

And arrive into the platform.

N456 arrives into Camperdown on the up Warrnambool

Passengers would board the train, then the conductor would blow their whistle for the train to depart.

Conductor waits for passengers to board the up Warrnambool pass at Camperdown

It would then reverse out of the platform, back towards Warrnambool.

N456 on the up Warrnambool shunts back out of the platform at Camperdown, so it can cross the down pass

The signaller would throw the points towards the crossing loop.

Signaller throws the points at Camperdown for N456 to shunt out to number 2 road

So the train could wait clear of the platform.

N456 shunts into number 2 road at Camperdown

The signaller would then throw the points back towards to the mainline.

N471 and carriage set VN14 wait in number 2 road at Camperdown for a cross, as the signaller returns to change the points back for the down Warrnambool

And change the signals to allow the train from Melbourne to arrive.

Signal 6 cleared at Camperdown for an up train to arrive into the platform

Then wait.

N471 and carriage set VN14 on the up Warrnambool wait in number 2 road at Camperdown for a cross

Soon enough, the Warrnambool-bound train would arrive.

N463 leads the down Warrnambool pass into Camperdown

Pass the waiting Melbourne-bound train.

N465 and VN6 arrive into Camperdown on the down Warrnambool

Passengers for Warrnambool would board.

N463 leads the down Warrnambool pass into Camperdown

And then the train would depart the platform.

N463 leads carriage set VN17 on the down Warrnambool pass out of Camperdown

Leaving Camperdown and the other train behind.

N465 and VN6 depart Camperdown on the down Warrnambool

The signaller would then walk to the Melbourne end of the yard, and throw the points towards the crossing loop.

Signaller has thrown the points for N471 and carriage set VN14 to depart number 2 road at Camperdown on the up Warrnambool

Allowing the Melbourne-bound train to continue on it’s journey.

N471 and carriage set VN14 depart number 2 road at Camperdown on the up Warrnambool

On the single track towards Geelong.

N471 and carriage set VN14 depart Camperdown on the up Warrnambool

And today

November 2022 was the last time a scheduled “reverse cross” happened at Camperdown, or anywhere else in Victoria.

Warrnambool line trains now cross at Boorcan Loop, located a few kilometres west of Camperdown.

Up end of Boorcan Loop viewed from Oswells Road

It was built as part of the $284.7 million ‘Warrnambool Rail Upgrade’ project.

'Warrnambool Line Upgrade' signage at the Boorcan Loop work site

The new loop at Boorcan is made up of a 185m long loop at the up end and a 912m loop at the down end, forming a crossing loop of 1756m total length, and all remotely controlled from V/Line’s ‘Centrol’ train control centre in Melbourne.

As a part of the same works, the crossing loop at Camperdown was downgraded to a siding.

Footnote from the past

A related move once happened at Marshall station, with counter-peak train put into the loop siding so they could cross Waurn Ponds trains in the opposite direction.

3VL33 stabled in the loop at Marshall, to form the next up

And even further back in time, reverse crosses once occurred at Winchelsea for trains operated by West Coast Railway.

James Brook video

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8 Responses to “Two trains in one platform at Camperdown”

  1. Nick says:

    Always enjoy your posts, Marcus. A variety of interesting topics and attention to detail.

  2. Martin Bennett says:

    It was well overdue for such a comically antiquated “system” to be discontinued. It wasn’t just so time-consuming that even with everything working perfectly, a fast timetable was impossible, but it absolutely guaranteed that any delayed train would turn into two late-running trains.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      It’s also got the bonus feature that if you’re running late for your train, the train might still be at the station waiting for a cross, but because it’s in the loop road you can’t board it!

  3. Paul Westcott says:

    A reverse cross used to occur at Lara in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Geelong line was a single track. A mid-morning train to Melbourne would reverse out of the station, after platform formalities had been completed, to allow a Geelong-bound train to use the station.

    From the look on their faces, it was obvious that some infrequent travellers on the Melbourne-bound train were disconcerted when they stated to return from whence they had come.

  4. Steve Gelsi says:

    The 6.05am and 6.28am trains from Southern Cross to Waurn Ponds still don’t stop at Marshall, so I assume they still pass away from the platform. And the 6.48am train to South Geelong has a coach connection at Geelong to Marshall and Waurn Ponds. So after the first train of the day stops at Marshall at 6.02am, the next train that stops doesn’t do so until 8.45am.

    The first non-stopper at Marshall would be giving way to the 7.21am departure from Waurn Ponds (Marshall 7.26), and the second the 7.40am departure (Marshall 7.45). The 7.20am Southern Cross to Warrnambool service also doesn’t stop Marshall, and probably gives way to Warrnambool to Southern Cross service coming the other way (although that doesn’t stop at Marshall either).

    When the Warrnambool trains started to run express Footscray-Geelong a few years ago, the early AM train was supplemented by a SAS to Geelong (I think the SAS ran first). A later timetable had the SAS extended to Waurn Ponds – but it waited at Geelong for a clear path, including for the Warrnambool train behind it to come and go first at Geelong. Looks like sense has prevailed now and the trains run in the right order!

    How much easier will it be when the duplication to Waurn Ponds is done and only the single tunnel bottleneck to worry about!

  5. Jenny Edge says:

    Thank you.

  6. Riya D says:

    Quality Victorian rail content as always! I travelled down to Warrnambool for the first time in December 2022 right after the upgrade works were done. I spend a lot of time on trains observing through the windows and I might have been quite startled at Camperdown had I travelled earlier! Great piece of history, but glad for the upgrade that saves so much time and resources.

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