Commissioners' Train

 
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Does anybody have any details of the consist of the Commissioners' Inspection Train ( VR, that is, not PBR ), in the days when D3 639 was used?  Any info. about the post-639 days would also be welcome.

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  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Exit...Stage Left!
I know that both "Goulburn" and the "Norman" car were nearly always part of the consist. Not sure about the third car though.
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
Recently I borrowed a book from the local library written by a chap who began railway life as a lad porter and retired as Station Master Flinders St. It was all about his time in the railways and a good part of one chapter discussed the Commissioners visits, the train consists, where they went and what happened. It even had a few photos / diagrams of some of the above mentioned carriages.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Goulburn, Norman and a wooden sleeper IIRC
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
Having a look at several pictures of the Commissioners' Pis.. I mean Commissioners' Train in the VicRail Board era, hazarding a guess of 1975-1977, as one shot's at Cudgewa being hauled about by T400, all the pictures have Norman-AS-Goulburn as the consist.

The photos were all taken by Mike Ronald, the former Chief Traffic Manager.

Interestingly one shot at Leongatha has four T's (T409-T381-T368-T400) hauling it, and another shot at Glenrowan with B73 with I think Les Haining in it.

As well, there appears to be no specific direction Norman faces: in the Leongatha/Foster line shots the pointy end faces north, whereas the Cudgewa shots have it facing south.
  dalts 1985 Banned

Location: Banned
I know that both "Goulburn" and the "Norman" car were nearly always part of the consist. Not sure about the third car though.
"TheRev"


State Car No# 5 or a Wooden Air-con Sleeper were also part of the consist occasionally too I think...

The 1980's consist was often:

Goulburn (Staff Support Car, once decommissioned & placed into preservation, Mitta Mitta (Ex BRS, after conversion) was the replacement Staff Support Car) State Car No# 5 & Norman

The rounded end of Norman had a nice big oak timber table with some very nice executives chairs round it, this was done, after Norman, then formerly known as the Club was withdrawn from the Intercapital Daylite or simluar...
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
Mitta Mitta was not converted from BRS228 until the early-to-mid 1990's, long after even the VicRail board ceased to be.  

In fact I'm pretty sure it replaced Goulburn in 1992-93, when that vehicle was reallocated to Steamrail.  

Mitta Mitta was used in the dying days of Vice-Regal and Ministerial overnight trips as the support staff's accomodation when on overnight duties, as well as a kitchen/food preparation area.

Be interested to see which wooden sleeper was used for this role.
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
Mike Ronald - that's a name I haven't heard for a long time. When I first started at Puffing Billy, he put me in charge of looking after the posters on the station buildings. Instruction class took place early one morning when he was rostered on as Belgrave SM. The paste had to be made up from flour and water - blowed if I can remember the recipe now!
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
You'll be pleased to know that his extensive memorabilia collection survives.
  r707 Chief Commissioner

Location: Here
I was under the impression that Mitta Mitta went straight to 'safekeeping' at SRHC from it's conversion, having never actually being used in its staff support form
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
There wasn't a long period of time, but I think it did very briefly run on a handful of Vice-Regal events.
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Gents,  
Thanks for all the feedback.  
I know Norman was used in latter years, but in the D3 639 days, Norman was not so named, and was the SOP Parlour Car.  I can't see the Commissioners taking the Parlour Car off the SOP - particularly Clapp, since the SOP was his baby.
What was the book you found, Deep Throat?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Are we not confusing the two eras mentioned here ie the steam D3 639 era and the Y175/T400 era?

In the steam era the original Norman car was used along with Goulburn and a wooden sleeper as I recall.

The original Norman was replaced with the ex SoP parlour car when the original Norman was withdrawn.

I am confused re Mitta Mitta being used as a staff car. Was this not one of the full length buffet cars ex the 1615 Albury and, more recently, the SG SoP.

I am interested in the Mike Ronald collection as it may contain something I lent him ages ago and which was not returned.
  SN7 Chief Commissioner

Mitta Mitta the former BRS228 was never officially utilised in any capacity by the then PTC/V/Line the With the last Vice Regal train ran to Swan Hill as a carriage attachment with State5/Norman.

Before BRS 228 was shopped at Newport for conversion the CMD did tests to ensure the DA under the BRS could also power the state car - which it did. At Newport the DA was removed - and the area used for the effluent retention tank...
The cost of the rebuild was around $100,000.

The Commisioners trains continued until around 1988-1990 and the then STA-V/Line board would use T Loco (Usually 410) Goulburn - SZ287 - Norman.

The SS sleepers where also used.
  crk Chief Train Controller

Location: Melton vic
does any one has have photos of the Commissioners' Train i would like to see some  Very Happy
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
I am interested in the Mike Ronald collection as it may contain something I lent him ages ago and which was not returned.
"YM-Mundrabilla"
PM me with the item's details and I will have a word to someone about it.  It's also likely it may have ended up somewhere else again.
  pjknife Assistant Commissioner

Location: Port Lincoln
I remember the excitement of the visit of the Commissioners' Train to Morwell in 1960 or 1961. The highlight was being invited into the cab of D3 639 while the train was at the platform (I was a school student at the time). I distinctly remember that the train consisted of three red cars, with Norman (the old one) at the rear. From the depths of memory I'd suggest that the other two were Goulburn and Melville, but I wouldn't swear to that.
  Sir Thomas Bent Minister for Railways

Location: Banned
Only seen one picture of the Perseverance era Commissioners Train oddly enough.  

I'll have a look at some documentation and post what I find.
  penov Chief Commissioner

Location: By the shore of Bass Strait.
The ARE video "Rails in the Forests" section on the Cudgewa line shows the deviations for the expansion of Hume Weir in the 1950's which included raising the height of the bridge over the Mitta Mitta Arm by eight feet. It includes film of the Commissioners Inspection train inspecting the bridge using the old Norman car, a wooden  clerestory roofed sleeping car, and the Goulburn dining car next to the loco.  The old film does not give a close up of the number on the sleeping car and there was no name painted on it. Windows were open on it so it was not alr-conditioned.

Incidentally, in the 1930's, my uncle who was an estate agent in Brighton, (and a rail buff) used to go on invitation trips on the Commissioners train which would take well-heeled adults only on tours to country towns, they would sleep on the train in a siding, and be taken to see various activities and sights in that country area. The original Norman car was the social area for the passengers, and on one occasion when I was about 14, he took me to Spencer Street to see them off, and  showed me through the train. I can remember that the Norman car had pull down blinds which had detailed maps of areas of the whole system with sidings, stations, level crossings, etc. and detailed information for the Commissioners for when on their visits.  That was a long time ago, so don't ask me any questions.
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I started this thread, and I am now much better informed than I was previously. Thanks to everybody who had something to contribute.
  volts_and_amps_man Locomotive Fireman

Location: LaGrange Ill
The Commissioners’ train almost disappeared for a number of years during the late 70’s early 80’s (under the “Vicrail” Board, Ian Hodges et al) until Mr John Hearsch became Chief General Manager of the new State Transport Authority and resurrected the train’s regular tours of inspection.

Y175’s use had long been dispensed by the end of the 70’s and a number of high numbered T classes were used on the Commissioners’ (this is testing my memory but I think, 398, 400, 401, 403, 406, 410 were definites, there may have been one or two others – most of which were sold to ANR to become the CK’s).  These half a dozen or so units were fitted with a special 64 volt power outlet just about the fuel tank under the valence on the????? Driver’s side if I remember correctly to charge batteries on the executives’ sleeping car (usually SZ 287, SS 286 or SS 285 – all 3 cars were used interchangeably and were air conditioned twinnette sleepers).  Inside the electrical cabinet the locomotive battery knife switch had a “reverse” position that engaged a second set of copper contacts that allowed the loco battery to feed this outlet.  From memory the outlet was only 64 volts battery fed with the battery being recharged by the auxiliary generator (74v) if the loco was running – i.e. the aux gen did NOT DIRECTLY feed this outlet – which I remember as a two or three heavy copper pinned affair.  After the train stabled we’d unravel a long purpose made extension lead and plug it into the sleeper (or was it into the Norman?? – It was so long ago now it’s difficult to remember) and then reverse the knife switch.  There wasn’t enough current to directly run A/C in the coupled car – the cable merely charged the battery and powered low voltage circuits.

By the second half of the 1980’s an N class was often used for all or part of the tours so that the two air-conditioned cars could be coupled to the 415v Head End Power supply (the Goulburn was “through cabled” but had no A/C) and to speed up main line operations.  In this case one of the T’s (usually 410 by this stage) was pre-positioned by freight train or taken along for the ride in order to be used for branch line running.  Towards the later part of the decade the T was used less and less and “special permission” was granted to take the N to all parts of the galaxy no mater what the regular maximum permissible loco axleload.  “Flexible” interpretation of operating procedures being a long tradition in operation of the Commissioners’ Train.

Of course Goulburn was used as crew car and had end windows cut in the lounge end for rarely used viewing by management when the train was running with Norman against the engine after John Hearsh arranged for the modification.  It has a lounge/open/eating area, kitchen, 2 showers and I think (from memory) about 5 (maybe 6?) berths for Driver, Fireman, Guard, Waiter and Cook and I think we had one spare so it must have been 6.  The berth end ran coupled to the Stainless Steel 10 berth twinette for the bosses.

The Norman of course made up the other end of the regular 3 car set and the Commissioners Train Conductor (Lenny Cotter for most of the 1980’s) slept in the Conductor’s berth in this car.

Okay guys – just for you – I’ve been rattling around in dusty cardboard box – only because I’m sober, wouldn’t be doing this if I was in normal driver state!  I can confirm the three above twinnette numbers SZ 287, SS 286 or SS 285 are the designated car numbers from a variety of s circulars from the 1980’s.  Of course on short tours (i.e. one day, only the Norman was used or sometimes the Norman and an ACZ.  Other specials involving dignitaries sometimes had a power car (and electrician), club car, and other special vehicles.  During my time on this train during the 1980’s I have absolutely NO recollection of either Nos 4 or 5 State Cars ever being used on “STA Board” (which only ran annually or less often and usually as a single day journey) or Train Operations Division “Tours of Inspection” (what was traditionally the Commissioner’s Train) which by this time had been shortened from the old long-serving 5 day format to usually a three day tour (even though there was the Commissioners’ train Crew on board the train often ran overnight with country crews to expedite it schedule and shorten the tour to just three working days.

Hope this helps.

V & A

(Sorry the text is a bit “all over the place” – it’s late and I’m tired

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