Maintenance Update: To Port!

In 2017 we moved on from Eveleigh due to changes in and around the site and the tenure arrangements. We’re setting ourselves up in the Illawarra and enjoying some great tenure with fantastic supporters like Bluescope and UGL. Down in Port Kembla in particular, we have made the most of the COVID downtime.

Our Port Kembla team have been busy repainting the train from one end to the other. Huge thanks to our friends at Dulux for the kind supply of Gloss Enamel oil based paints. Worth doing, worth Dulux!

   

 

Its more than just prettying them up – a good paint system protects the steelwork and the carriage structure. Fresh paint does look good too though! To save the cutting in, we just slip the fittings off and put them back on at the end:

       

 

After several months painting the running set, it’s a reminder the CPJ lounge car needs some love later on – watch this space!


We didn’t stop at the bodywork though – the frames were next, and the steps came off for stripping. We went with gloss black, and high vis yellow non-slip treads:

   

 

The slack adjuster bracket didn’t go without its share – gloss white was used to highlight the position of the slack adjuster at a glance, to help our maintenance team doing pre-trip inspections. Gloss black frames and fresh gloss white lettering look the goods, now the bogies stand out though!

   

 

We didn’t stop at the frame either – we pressure cleaned, primed and glossed the under floor of the carriages to protect the steel work:

We’re an inclusive mob at ECHR – the bogies didn’t go without in the end…


But we didn’t stop there, all the battery boxes on the carriages received freshly rebuilt battery boxes. These were full strip downs, back to the basic metal components and fresh structural ply:

   

 

Working from home is nothing new to us!


Brett and Chris reckoned the easiest cars to re-fit battery boxes by far were the 12 wheelers with their 4 truss rods:


But we didn’t stop there either! The SFN received a plumbing upgrade, from the old rusty steel water pipes to fresh modern poly pipes. We also moved away from the troublesome air operated water service units, upgrading to an electric water pump – we’ll work through upgrading the other cars too as time permits. Also installed were some new stop cocks that help us isolate the toilets, something we could have done with in the past! Thanks to our friends at Rob Lemme plumbing for provision of their excellent plumbing services.

   

 

Inside the cars, Chris made up some new in house quick release fasteners for the emergency steps:


Life after Eveleigh isn’t all bad – life’s what you make it, and our hunger to keep our heritage trains running helps to promote regional tourism and linking the city with the regions! Stay tuned for more maintenance updates with the new ECHR Projects blog – until next time!

Welcome to the Fleet, X54!

East Coast Heritage Rail is proud to announce the purchase of former Victorian Railways third series X class locomotive X54. We plan to return X54 to operational condition, which will allow us to expand our tour offerings.

Photo: Bob Richardson

X54 was built by Clyde Engineering at their Rosewater plant in Adelaide, and entered service with the Victorian Railways in June 1976. Working on both broad gauge and standard gauge, the X class could be found all over the Victorian Railways system, working both freight and passenger trains. Members of the class on broad gauge could often be found on the Melbourne to Adelaide corridor, working both The Overland passenger train or the ‘Jet’ express goods services between the two cities.

The third series X class were the first Victorian locos to venture into NSW under the ‘through working’ arrangement, and in the early 1980’s could often be seen on interstate express passenger trains such as the Southern Aurora, Spirit of Progress and Intercapital Daylight between Sydney and Melbourne.

When the Victorian Railways restructured in 1983, ownership of the X class passed to V/Line. All remained in Government ownership until 1999 when V/Line Freight was privatised and sold to Freight Victoria, later becoming Freight Australia as their operations expanded in 2000. In 2004 Freight Australia was purchased by Pacific National. As a condition of this sale, X54 was one of two X class locomotives that were gifted to the then newly established Queensland Rail National, to help with their start-up of interstate standard gauge operations. It remained in service with QR National (becoming Aurizon in 2012) up until Aurizon ceased operating intermodal freight in December 2017. It saw use for a brief period in 2018 to support Aurizon’s Hunter Valley coal and grain operations, however it was placed into storage in late 2018 and has not been used since.

We look forward to reactivating X54 and bringing it to you on our future tours – watch this space!

Farewell C3704

The more eagle-eyed observer on a Redfern train this morning may have noticed the plaza at South Eveleigh looking a little barer than it did yesterday… After more than 20 years of faithful service as both our office and an important part of the South Eveleigh’s rail heritage, it was sadly time to say goodbye to our Sputnik motor carriage C3704 last night as redevelopment of the site by Mirvac has necessitated our relocation elsewhere.

Rest assured the carriage has departed for a peaceful retirement in private ownership on the rural North Coast of NSW, and our operations will continue as normal despite this change. Given our greatly increased use of technology we are now able to operate our tours with less of a physical office presence, and will continue to deliver the heritage rail experiences that we know our passengers love!

Below are some photos of the carriage being loaded onto a truck for its trip north.

A New Chapter – East Coast Heritage Rail


Our Cockatoo Run, proudly operated since 1995, Hawkesbury River Express and various one-off tours that we run are what our passengers know and love. Whilst we operate many interesting and important rolling stock items that the rail community loves to see, the travelling public value the experience of our heritage rail tours, enjoying time with family and friends, and reflecting on the role that rail has played in developing Australia.

Accordingly, our name is no longer reflective of what we do. And more importantly, what we want to do in the future. It is therefore a natural time for East Coast Heritage Rail to be born.

We wish to be a safe, sustainable and collaborative organisation that works to improve and promote heritage rail, across all of Australia. We look forward to working with other groups and people to help everyone achieve their and our goals, and for the heritage rail sector to be stronger as a result.

ECHR is an organisation whose purpose is to preserve railway heritage for the enjoyment of the public by operating tour trains. We are a not-for profit company, and all surplus funds are directed to ongoing restoration and maintenance of our trains.

ECHR operates day tours and charters out of Sydney as well as scheduled services to the Illawarra and Southern Highlands.  If you would like more information on these tours please visit our website, www.eastcoastheritagerail.com.au, call our office on 1300 65 3801, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

Note to regulators, suppliers and customers:
Our legal name, ACN and ABN (64 002 951 671) remain unchanged, and all associated trademarks and brands remain the property of 3801 Limited. We remain accredited as a railway operator and registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. The transition will be a gradual one, with logos, branding and uniforms updated across our organisation as time and funding permits.

A New Beginning

We are excited to announce that we can shortly start tours again and share our beautiful heritage trains with you, including on our Cockatoo Run tour and others.

We thank everyone for their support over the last two years. These years have been perhaps toughest of the company’s lifetime.
We recently re-located some of the fleet to a private siding in the Hunter Valley with ready access to the main line. We are also working on other stabling sites to support our operations, and to which we can take the remaining non-operational vehicles from the Large Erecting Shop.
Some facts……
1. We are financially stable.
2. We are accredited.
3. We continue to be supported by our locomotive partners.
4. We are planning tours and will release dates for these soon.

What is next?…….

To support these tours, we are reconnecting with our volunteers and will soon start retraining and requalification activities with them.

If you would like to volunteer with us (even if you have not worked with us before), please contact us through our website. Key roles include train crews, passenger attendants, and carriage preparation teams.

We are also looking for people who may wish to join the management team in a range of roles (particularly operations and technology). Please contact us if you are interested (also via the website).

All roles are on a voluntary basis for the foreseeable future.

We also look forward to working closer with other heritage organisations for the betterment of the industry on the whole and believe that there are many opportunities for collaboration to make this happen.

When further information becomes available it will be passed onto you. We look forward to working again with you and promoting rail heritage!

The Board and Management Team

We are packing – Can you help?

As part of their response to the “Fresh Start” report, Transport for NSW have committed to relaunching the Large Erecting Shop (LES) at Eveleigh (our home for the last 30 years) as an open access, multiuser running shed for any and all heritage operators to use. We look forward to using the new facility along side other heritage rail operators, with whom we share our passion and work with on a regular basis to support each other.

So that the LES can be assessed by an engineering team and the much needed works completed, we need to pack up as much of our property as we can so that we can move it to off-site storage locations. With the LES being our home for the past 30 years our collection of heritage items is extensive.

We are asking you for ant any donations that you could give us in support, such as heavy duty storage boxes, transport assistance (eg trucks), other packing or transport materials, and if you so wish, your time to help us pack up the vast wealth of items we have to support the running and restoration of our heritage rail fleet.

We are in discussions with Transport for NSW and Transport Heritage NSW to determine an interim solution that will allow us to continue to run our operating fleet on the tours that you love to join us on, and more. Please check our website, and social media pages for further updates.

Please contact us at GM@3801limited.com.au if you would like to make a donation and help 3801 keep serving the public, and preserving its rail heritage. Please also share this post to spread the appeal.

Links to the past: The Hawkesbury River Express

Today, little do many realise the invaluable assistance that the Indigenous people provided to the fledgling European colony in its early days. Bungoree, of Guringai Nation, was an elder of the saltwater people who lived around Broken Bay. He and his people were excellent navigators of the coastal waterways, so it seemed only natural that their skills and expertise would be of great help in the development of the colony. Realising the value of his knowledge, Bungoree was involved with many ‘voyages of discovery’ including to the Hunter River and Norfolk Island, and perhaps most famously he became the first Australian to circumnavigate his own country when he assisted Matthew Flinders in the expedition of 1802-3.

Bungoree (~1775-1830) on Gubba Gubba (Middle Head) - Augustus Earle

On a more local level, Bungoree and his people established and traded along a network of well established trackways, which today form a significant part of our current transport network – and included amongst these is the Great Northern Railway. Today, not only does the Hawkesbury River (Deerubbun) Express provide a regular tourist operation to Broken Bay, but also enables some of Bungoree’s direct descendants the opportunity to maintain their connection to the country and share their culture with the national and international visitors. In this way, we are ‘Maroon Oomooliyan Goori Wahroong’ (still caring for our country).

Bungoree’s direct descendant Brett Rowling poses with the train's new headboard, highlighting the Indigenous cultural connection.

Charging Ahead

It takes a lot of commitment to keep our heritage tourist trains gracing our rails, with services like 3801 Limited’s Cockatoo Run linking the City of Sydney with Wollongong and the Southern Highlands several times each month, making a significant contribution to NSW tourism in so doing. After 30 years of operations, its fortunate that the Eveleigh Projects team have developed the know how to keep the show safely on the road – notwithstanding the surprises that come part and parcel of a running vintage fleet! Our volunteers are currently mid way through an intensive battery box rebuilding program on each carriage of the running fleet to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of heritage carriages on the rail network.

This work involves stripping the battery box down to the last nut and bolt, and discarding any life expired timber or other components before completely rebuilding the unit. The box illustrated has just been fitted to first class compartment car XBS2158, which is currently in the process of being reactivated at Eveleigh (after many years of storage off-site) for a return to tourist train service.

Eveleigh is home to a unique team of skilled car builders who form a repository of invaluable knowledge and expertise that is becoming increasingly rare in this day and age. Our volunteers share skills with 3801 Limited, The Heritage Locomotive Company and Lachlan Valley Railway to keep the carriages under the care of each in good maintenance.

With a fresh set of well maintained batteries snug inside the new battery box, we shouldn’t have to look at this again for many years and after many more thousands of kilometres of tourist train travels.

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Stay tuned for more maintenance updates!

Contributor Snapshot

There are a huge number of different ways in which you can help with our restoration efforts at Eveleigh, a number of which may not be immediately obvious. While donations and volunteering are readily apparent, many may not know that there are plenty of other ways to play a part in helping, and to leave a lasting mark in doing so. For instance, here we see two photographic contributions made by Gary Marshall and Paul Hogan, which are proudly displayed in the lounge of CAM502. These two fantastic shots from 1988 illustrate the CAM’s working history as a crew car supporting 3801 and Flying Scotsman during the Bicentennial celebrations, and give some fantastic historical context for passengers in addition to proving a great feature of the carriage interior. 3801 Limited would like to thank Gary and Paul for their generous contributions, and encourage anybody who think they may be able to help in any way, no matter how large or small, to get in touch – your creativity is the limit!

gary-marshall-and-paul-hogan

What’s in a name?

Many followers of the Eveleigh Projects blog would be familiar with our two regular mainline trains – the Cockatoo Run and Hawkesbury River (Deerubbun) Express – but where were their names derived from?

The scenic Cockatoo Run from Sydney Central south to Robertson and Moss Vale was a service formerly operated by the then State Rail during the 1980s. At that time, many Black cockatoos adorned the trees on the climb from Unanderra to Summit Tank, leading to the christening of the service among railwayfolk as the Cockatoo Run (the birds have subsequently resettled closer to the city however, having developed an appreciation for domesticated living and the higher echelons of the real estate market in the intervening years!)

By the early 1990s, State Rail were looking for a new operator to take over the service as a tourist train, and in stepped 3801 Limited. The rest, as they say, is history – and the service has proven a mainstay of the company’s operations ever since, having operated formally under the name since its relaunch in 1994, and becoming well known and loved under the banner once coined as a colloquialism for over twenty years.

The Hawkesbury River Express passes through the land of the Guringai people, whose domain was once bounded to the south by North Head, by the Lake Macquarie entrance to the north, and Mangrove Mountain to the west. Many of the current place names in the area are derived from their dialect, including Cowan (uncle), Patonga (oyster shell), and Woy Woy (deep lagoon). The Guringai name for the Hawkesbury River itself is ‘Deerubbun’, to which the train’s headboard also bears witness. Our next Deerubbun Express departs on the 23rd November – why not take the opportunity to have a fantastic day out and indulge in a journey of cultural enlightenment in the process?