Friday, March 26, 2021

Steam is back

After an absence of steam trains running around on our suburban and country rail tracks for one year purely for people's pleasure because of you know what, they are back. I have never taken a trip or even seen one pass by except I've seen smoke rising from the South Yarra cutting from home.

Odd how when there is a single track and it then changes to a double track briefly, it is called a passing loop. It is not a loop at all really. It is also odd that trains don't go up hills but climb a named bank, such as Albion bank in this video, where in almost didn't climb the bank.

I thought what a strange and unattractive engine, that could barely do the job of towing five carriages and what I guess is a water tank, until I realised it is 130 years old, dating back to 1891. So really I think that is quite impressive. It was locally made at a Ballarat foundry and was last in service in 1961.

Unless you are really interested, this video at 18 minutes is a bit long for most people, but if you want to click through it to certain points, here are some. Keep in mind that a camera lens can and in this video does distort a little of what you see.

30 seconds in, see how hard the engine is working.

3.36 the train exits the Bunbury Street Tunnel in Footscray and crosses the Bunbury Street Bridge. The curve can't possibly be as sharp as it appears and I know it isn't. 

6.50 it is returning from Southern Cross Station and the engine is travelling backwards. 

7.30 the engine is losing traction on a bank. You can hear the engine speed up and it belches smoke as its wheels start spinning on wet track. 'I think I can', comes to mind, and it did.

10.00 the engine is again working very hard.

12.40 the engine is put back in place at the front of the train.

16.10 the screed says the engine failed. I am not sure how it failed. It seems to be working well enough to me. It returned to its home base.


  1. There is something about steam trains isn't there? That wonderful 'chuffing' noise has something to do with it I think.

  2. It's a loop in the sense that one track can be regarded as leaving the other and then rejoining - known as a "loop line".

  3. I love steam trains, but didn't watch the whole video, stopped about half way. I wonder if the "engine failed" is simply that it failed to gain enough speed, comparing it to today's much faster trains. People these days always want to be somewhere five minutes ago.

  4. As old as the train is, it seemed to fit in with its modern surroundings. I enjoyed watching the almost rhythmic puffs of smoke. Quite a bit of it, but I imagine it's less damaging to the environment than what comes out of a gasoline-powered automobile.

  5. I remember when I was very small, taking the train for the short trip into central London. When the train pulled into our village station the steam, smoke, and noise, was wonderful. Nothing was more exciting.

  6. Strange to see that you still use steam trains in Australia. In England we got rid of them years ago but you can still see several in The National Railway Museum in York.

  7. Green and Gold, looks beautifully restored.
    The video is good and the toot, toot brings back memories.
    There is just something good about a steam train.

  8. Oh you are going to have to treat yourself to a train ride Andrew, can't wait to see your pics 💛 Happy weekend ✨

  9. Neat, I love the mechanical nature of steam trains, they almost seem to be alive. A few years ago we did a local road trip to ride two steam railways in this region.

  10. Fabulous film, Andrew, watched it from start to finish. I'm so old I rode on steam trains and this revived so many memories.


  11. Anonymous4:17 am

    Interesting - the carriages shown in the opening shot are US style not British - is that typical of trains Down Under? Also the engine is antique (i.e. the dome) even for 1891, so no wonder it has problems, Roderick

    1. Roderick, we certainly did mix our rail vehicles between what was used in the UK and the US. In some ways the US was favoured, especially as like here, trains covered long distances.