Our front cover headlines the news that V/Line is looking to repurpose the N Class locomotive fleet for broad gauge freight use. Our News and announcements section has details of the current EOI process, with up to 19 of V/Line’s N Class and all three its P Class locomotives up for grabs by broad gauge rail freight operators.
1 September 2023 marks exactly 125 years since NA Class locomotives 1A and 2A were added to the Victorian Railways register. As our article discovers, they had been put together in an incredibly rapid time; from VR signing a contract with the local agent of Baldwin Locomotive Works on 1 April 1898, Baldwin had the locomotives drawn up, built, tested, photographed and ready to be shipped to Australia by the end of May!
The locomotives came supplied in a highly varnished olive-green livery from Baldwin, with detail touches such as real gold leaf lining and planished iron boiler cladding. They also featured some wonderfully American touches such as huge wooden cowcatchers, fitted front and rear. With thanks to David Fletcher, we have drawings that show exactly what the Baldwin livery looked like. Both a simple expansion and Vauclain compound version were supplied, and our article includes a copy of comparative test results.
This edition has two features on VR’s transport of petrochemicals. We have a large feature from Ken Russell which will probably be THE definitive article on the VR and V/Line fleet of bitumen tankers, which once transported bitumen from oil refineries to the far flung corners of the state for use on road projects. The transport of bitumen involved a whole range of special logistical arrangements, which Ken discusses.
We also have a feature by Chris Banger on the World War 2-era inland fuel store at Violet Town, served by a rail siding roughly one mile on the Melbourne side of the station.
Rounding out our special features, there’s also a summary of the recent ATSB final report on the 2020 Wallan derailment.
Our other regular sections are there:
- Tourist and heritage rail (with a special report on the turntable delivered to Yarra Glen)
- General works
- Operations and sightings
- PTV service quality
- Where is it?