Orange Station and East Fork

 
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

Can someone tell me why East Fork exists when it is only a few hundred metres from Orange Station? Why not allow Parkes bound trains to head through Orange station and loop around over the top of Orange rejoining the so-called branch line? The topography looks flat out Amaroo way. I know the western line came first, but why call a line that is longer than the western line, a branch line? That line goes all the way out to the rest of Australia ... the longest line you can ever be on.... While it is easy for an XPL to backtrack to East Fork, the IP is another story and shouldn't such a train be able to stop at Orange station, if needed? When the new CAF trains hit the rails, they too will need to backtrack if going out to Broken Hill.

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  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
So how many Parkes bound trains reverse direction in Orange now?

You want a few Billion spent just to avoid that?

There was no doubt a reason, probably terrain and/or political considerations, that the line to Parkes branched off at East Fork.
  Travelling Hooker Locomotive Fireman

Location: Follows the weather up and down the coast
I remember when I was a kid living out that way the I.P and The Alice used to stop at more stations than now. Their Orange stop was at the East Fork. I don’t know the logic of building the main station off the interstate line. Maybe because it is close to the CBD, maybe because when it was built more traffic used the Dubbo line
  NSWRcars Chief Train Controller

When I have travelled on the Broken Hill Xplorer in recent years, twice the late-running return has bypassed Orange station. In one instance the only passenger alighting at Orange was met by a complimentary taxi at East Fork; the other time there were no passengers for Orange and the stop was bypassed altogether. I daresay the Indian Pacific rarely makes the stop at Orange East Fork these days.
  apw5910 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
Why is it called East Fork? It's south of the main station and on the western side of the main line. I suppose trains going east turn right there (cue Muppet Movie "Fork in the Road" joke...)
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

If I had to answer my own question, I guess the reason why the interstate line falls short of Orange station could be because of the traffic stoppages that freight trains would cause at the Mitchell Highway level crossing - despite the Orange bypass.

To have the main station at East Fork would be  taking pax too far out of the town centre to board a train.

I guess anyone coming back from Broken Hill would be grateful to be disembarking at East Fork if this was their only option.

Maybe something for the SFF to look at next federal election... Maybe a wooden platform boardwalk bridging East Fork with Orange station could be considered?
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
I remember when I was a kid living out that way the I.P and The Alice used to stop at more stations than now. Their Orange stop was at the East Fork. I don’t know the logic of building the main station off the interstate line. Maybe because it is close to the CBD, maybe because when it was built more traffic used the Dubbo line
Travelling Hooker
The Main Western Line from Sydney reached Orange in 1877, then Wellington in 1880, and eventually Bourke in 1885.

Orange Station was built close to the middle of town as was usually the case.

The then "Branch" from what is now known as East Fork Junction towards Broken Hill reached Molong from Orange in 1885, Parkes in 1893, and Broken Hill in 1927.


There are plenty of more sensible ways to spend a Billion or so on the Railways.
  apw5910 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
A simpler solution might be to slew all tracks away from the platform(s).
NSWRcars
The locals would object and you'd end up with another abortion like Millthorpe.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

Prior to the arrival of the railways, the significant towns in western NSW were river towns such as Bourke and Dubbo, hence the line being constructed to these towns first. Broken Hill only became significant with the discovery of minerals in the early 20th century and Transcontinental transport could not have been comprehended when the  line to Dubbo was first constructed.
  theanimal Chief Commissioner

Can someone tell me why East Fork exists when it is only a few hundred metres from Orange Station? Why not allow Parkes bound trains to head through Orange station and loop around over the top of Orange rejoining the so-called branch line? The topography looks flat out Amaroo way. I know the western line came first, but why call a line that is longer than the western line, a branch line? That line goes all the way out to the rest of Australia ... the longest line you can ever be on.... While it is easy for an XPL to backtrack to East Fork, the IP is another story and shouldn't such a train be able to stop at Orange station, if needed? When the new CAF trains hit the rails, they too will need to backtrack if going out to Broken Hill.
ANR
Are you aware that the pricing structure for the IP is the same whether you join at Sydney, Orange East Fork or Parkes.
  a6et Minister for Railways

The reason is simple, the main line is basically heading North - South, the line to Parkes/Broken Hill runs in more a Westerly direction at that point for down trains but for the many up trains they came into the junction fork in an Easterly direction.

There are many reasons why it was constructed but, the best reason was that most trains from Dubbo and from Parkes ran into East Fork and if they were block loads such as Wheat and the ore train W44 from Broken Hill an egine change was carried out there on the East fork of the Junction.  Mixed loads that were either split or needed to be built up took the fork and went down into Orange Yard.  The same applied for West bound trains, to both Parkes and Dubbo, although most Dubbo trains went via the main line for down services but up services in the main were via Molong and came into the junction fork

In years past Orange was a very busy location especially the yard area, along with stock yards along the area next to the up main near the loco depot that was perfectly placed inside the triangle.

In 1970, when the IP began running a station was built on the fork so passengers from Oge would board the train there, included in the ticket price was the taxi fare to that station, also passengers could alight there on the up services.

To go down to OGE itself for engines to run round their train and head back past the fork would take at least 1/2 an hour and that is with everything going your way, the speed around the north fork (my call on that) for a train to head down to the main station, or loop to run round is slow IIRC the speed was aroun 25KM/H while on the triangle lines owing to the point work each end. Then to run down at yard speed by the main and across to the loop, engine cut off, and run round, then whatever brake tests and coupling up etc needed before it could depart south again.  

If a direct train to/from Parkes ran, the crews today would be running at least to Bathurst, so nil stopping at East fork at all.  

There are quite a few sensible reasons for it being in use and why it even was placed there.
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

Can someone tell me why East Fork exists when it is only a few hundred metres from Orange Station? Why not allow Parkes bound trains to head through Orange station and loop around over the top of Orange rejoining the so-called branch line? The topography looks flat out Amaroo way. I know the western line came first, but why call a line that is longer than the western line, a branch line? That line goes all the way out to the rest of Australia ... the longest line you can ever be on.... While it is easy for an XPL to backtrack to East Fork, the IP is another story and shouldn't such a train be able to stop at Orange station, if needed? When the new CAF trains hit the rails, they too will need to backtrack if going out to Broken Hill.
ANR
It is history. The main western line originally went to Bourke. When the line to Parkes and Forbes was constructed it took the most easily constructed route, off the main west near Orange Loco. In steam days most west bound trains ran into Orange. Those going to Dubbo generally departed from Orange and ran via Wellington.
Trains coming east were already blocked and generally did not require shunting at Orange. Loco servicing and changing was carried out on the East Fork or direct connection to the main western line.
All passenger trains in the steam era called at Orange station, with the exception of the Broken Hill Miners Express at holiday times, I think it ran via the east Fork.
The pattern of freight trains was to run to Dubbo via Wellington and return from Dubbo via Molong. The east Fork was a busy connection.
Now that diesels and interstate traffic are more common the arrangement seems a bit odd. But the East Fork connection still gets most use.
I don't know why the railways took the routes around Orange that they did, but the country west of Orange is very hilly, with 1:40 grades both ways beyond Orange. Our pioneers didn't like 1:40 grades, my guess is that was the best they could do.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Can someone tell me why East Fork exists when it is only a few hundred metres from Orange Station? Why not allow Parkes bound trains to head through Orange station and loop around over the top of Orange rejoining the so-called branch line? The topography looks flat out Amaroo way. I know the western line came first, but why call a line that is longer than the western line, a branch line? That line goes all the way out to the rest of Australia ... the longest line you can ever be on.... While it is easy for an XPL to backtrack to East Fork, the IP is another story and shouldn't such a train be able to stop at Orange station, if needed? When the new CAF trains hit the rails, they too will need to backtrack if going out to Broken Hill.
It is history. The main western line originally went to Bourke. When the line to Parkes and Forbes was constructed it took the most easily constructed route, off the main west near Orange Loco. In steam days most west bound trains ran into Orange. Those going to Dubbo generally departed from Orange and ran via Wellington.
Trains coming east were already blocked and generally did not require shunting at Orange. Loco servicing and changing was carried out on the East Fork or direct connection to the main western line.
All passenger trains in the steam era called at Orange station, with the exception of the Broken Hill Miners Express at holiday times, I think it ran via the east Fork.
The pattern of freight trains was to run to Dubbo via Wellington and return from Dubbo via Molong. The east Fork was a busy connection.
Now that diesels and interstate traffic are more common the arrangement seems a bit odd. But the East Fork connection still gets most use.
I don't know why the railways took the routes around Orange that they did, but the country west of Orange is very hilly, with 1:40 grades both ways beyond Orange. Our pioneers didn't like 1:40 grades, my guess is that was the best they could do.
neillfarmer
Neil

Not sure which book its in but there is reference that when the line to Parkes was being considered, there was a route mapped out to run from the main line to Parkes west of OGE. The decision was abandoned though but it was on the books, possibly owing to the towns expansion took place more on that end of the town than at the Southern end.

Either direction was plagued by the 1:40 grades in both directions, the Scenic route at least made it possible for reasonable loads to be hauled by a single engine and only required assistance from Molong for the last main section.  One issue the going into Orge itself rather than direct routing towards BX with wheat trains when tarps were used on open wagons such as BCH's was the requirement of how the tarp was tied, going direct via the fork, meant a train off the Coonamble line as an example could be tarped in a way that allowed for the tarp opening to only be there for the branch, once at Dubbo and heading to Sydney, it faced the right way. Issues that the GHB workers had to consider at the silos as to the tarpling.
  BrianBS Locomotive Driver


Not sure which book its in but there is reference that when the line to Parkes was being considered..................
a6et
Byways of Steam - Encore Edition 1998 Eveleigh Press. The main article was part of Ray Love's Steam Locomotive Depots of NSW series - Depot No29 Orange.

The article has a fully detailed description of how the lines around Orange were built, and in what sequence.

There is also a 'sketch' plan showing the proposed general arrangement for the Molong / Forbes line to run North through Orange station before swinging away to the south-west and rejoining the Broken Hill line. I can't show this sketch due to copyright considerations.

In essence, there is a road over-bridge just south of Orange station - the Up and Down mainlines were to separate widely a mile or so south of that roadbridge. Inside the south end of the separation was to be two roundhouses, which led into a large marshalling / goods yard centred between the main lines - then a new stock yard and sidings just before the roadbridge on the western side.

The line to Dubbo / Bourke was slewed to the eastern side of Orange station with a new island platform and buildings - the Molong / Forbes line was running through the existing platform on the western side of Orange station.

If anyone wants to read the whole article, the Byways of Steam Encore Edition is still showing as available :

http://www.australianmodelrailways.com/books/catalog.php?category=Byways+of+Steam&page=2
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

Thank you for those replies regarding Orange and its railways. I spent a little time out that way in steam days and can remember running beside a TF and 60 class walking up the 1:40 towards Mullion Creek on the Dubbo line. I was able to jog ahead of it along the firebreak for several hundred yards getting a succession of shots. On another occasion we travelled down from Dubbo in a van placed several vehicles back from the 60 class engine. Needless to say we all had cab rides along the scenic. At Molong a 36 class came on to assist up to Orange and as we were getting close to officialdom we all rode in the van. The crew let the train roll freely down through the 1:40 sags around Nashdale and I can still remember the alarm we had at the wild gyrations of a loaded RU wagon just ahead of us. Those RU 4 wheel bulk wheat wagons must have been the most unstable vehicle on the railway. That train ran via Orange East Fork,  dropping us off and changing engines on the fork line.
The 1:40s were not the great impediment that they may seem. The grades applied to trains running both directions between Orange and Molong so an assistant engine would be attached to a train running down from Orange to Molong and then assist another train back up. it was only at the end of steam that it was necessary to run light locos down to Molong, I saw 3807 doing this one day to assist 6011 back up the hill. 38+60 was not a common combination on the west so I was happy to capture this right at the end of steam on the west, 19th May, 1967.
  a6et Minister for Railways


Not sure which book its in but there is reference that when the line to Parkes was being considered..................Byways of Steam - Encore Edition 1998 Eveleigh Press. The main article was part of Ray Love's Steam Locomotive Depots of NSW series - Depot No29 Orange.

The article has a fully detailed description of how the lines around Orange were built, and in what sequence.

There is also a 'sketch' plan showing the proposed general arrangement for the Molong / Forbes line to run North through Orange station before swinging away to the south-west and rejoining the Broken Hill line. I can't show this sketch due to copyright considerations.

In essence, there is a road over-bridge just south of Orange station - the Up and Down mainlines were to separate widely a mile or so south of that roadbridge. Inside the south end of the separation was to be two roundhouses, which led into a large marshalling / goods yard centred between the main lines - then a new stock yard and sidings just before the roadbridge on the western side.

The line to Dubbo / Bourke was slewed to the eastern side of Orange station with a new island platform and buildings - the Molong / Forbes line was running through the existing platform on the western side of Orange station.

If anyone wants to read the whole article, the Byways of Steam Encore Edition is still showing as available :

http://www.australianmodelrailways.com/books/catalog.php?category=Byways+of+Steam&page=2
BrianBS
Brian, thanks, thought it was the Byways Encore edition and a great read overall.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Thank you for those replies regarding Orange and its railways. I spent a little time out that way in steam days and can remember running beside a TF and 60 class walking up the 1:40 towards Mullion Creek on the Dubbo line. I was able to jog ahead of it along the firebreak for several hundred yards getting a succession of shots. On another occasion we travelled down from Dubbo in a van placed several vehicles back from the 60 class engine. Needless to say we all had cab rides along the scenic. At Molong a 36 class came on to assist up to Orange and as we were getting close to officialdom we all rode in the van. The crew let the train roll freely down through the 1:40 sags around Nashdale and I can still remember the alarm we had at the wild gyrations of a loaded RU wagon just ahead of us. Those RU 4 wheel bulk wheat wagons must have been the most unstable vehicle on the railway. That train ran via Orange East Fork,  dropping us off and changing engines on the fork line.
The 1:40s were not the great impediment that they may seem. The grades applied to trains running both directions between Orange and Molong so an assistant engine would be attached to a train running down from Orange to Molong and then assist another train back up. it was only at the end of steam that it was necessary to run light locos down to Molong, I saw 3807 doing this one day to assist 6011 back up the hill. 38+60 was not a common combination on the west so I was happy to capture this right at the end of steam on the west, 19th May, 1967.
neillfarmer
Neil

When the 64-66 drought broke, it was an ultra busy season west of OGE, for the last steam wheat season.  Whereas I had spent earlier years at Tumulla 66 onwards was around OGE, while working at Enfield at the time the concept of working 12 days every fortnight mostly on steam, my phtotography enthusiasm dropped off, but last season I was not going to miss, and one season in between along with the late Ian Thornton we went and camped at Amaroo, hopefully for W44 which did not run on that Sunday, we did however capture a double garratt on general goods from Dubbo, the last steam hauled Forbes mail and a couple of other jobs.

The last time out there had a constant stream of wheat trains, a couple of down empties with a freighter LA and garratt, and the other garratt only. Several light engine movements to assist up trains also, two days were spent there and very much worthwhile, still no W44 on either day.

For down trains to Molong, there were really only 3 grades that had a train affect, East Fork up past Canobolos, another one between Canobolos and Nashdale, and one more between Nashdale and the top of the up grade 1:44 from Borenore. Past there a few short grades that were momentum in nature as most did not brake on the run down, at least past the Borenore one.

The line OGE - Dubbo was hard on engines with full loads both directions.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

Thank you for your memories, Gentlemen. Like so many other places around the country, a shadow of it's former self. My memories of the place only extend back to Sunday mornings in the early eighties when it was possible to find 44s leading the IP, single 49s running the Orange-Parkes goods and any variety of mainline alcos bringing export wheat out of Parkes. Double Garratts it was not, but, in hindsight, well worth seeing.

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