Monday, May 02, 2011

A defective memory of steam

Steam Rail was running some choof choof trains in Mother's neck of the woods. Mother and ABI Brother both agreed that when they first moved to the town on the Gippsland train line in the mid 1970s, they were serviced by country steam trains before the suburban electric trains arrived to carry them to the city.

I don't think so, said moi. I need to research.

Because, I used to travel on the Gippsland train and as far as I can recall, it was an electric train that received its power from overhead wires. On the odd occasion I am right.

The Gippsland train was electric powered from overhead wires at least as far as Traralgon. Some memory kicked in and I recalled that the electric motor engines were due for replacement and as the rest of Victoria was by then a system with the trains powered by their own diesel generators, it was thought not to be economical to buy new overhead powered electric country trains. So, the overhead wiring and associated electric components were removed and the Gippsland line was converted to diesel electric. I don't know the economics of it, but removing a fully electric train seems just wrong to me.

Although in the 1970s Mother and ABI Brother may have seen the occasional steam train pass through, what they must remember travelling on were diesel electric trains belching out smoke.

When the suburban electric train arrived to offer Mother's town a more frequent service, for some reason, perhaps timing, perhaps comfort, perhaps a faster trip, Mother continued to use the country train when she wasn't supposed to. She was told off more than once and once she made an mistake and the train did not stop at her station and she had to call Step Father to collect her from the next station.

Now I must break the news to Mother that she did not ride on steam trains.


  1. Anonymous12:22 pm

    The regular use of steam hauled trains on passenger services as far as Traralgon ceased in the early 1950s, when the electrified section from Dandenong opened. Steam locos were used on branchlines until the mid 1960s in Gippsland and there a still a few special steam hauled trips each year, generally as far as Traralgon (which still has a turntable).

    Rob from Walhalla

  2. Thanks Rob. I just checked back to an email from you in May 2008 and you gave the date as 1987 when the line was de-electified. That must have been the memory that kicked in. Still not made a visit to Walhalla yet or ridden the railway.

  3. PS I am just reading a book by Ruth Holst about Walhalla, Behind the Shop Counter.