Chowilla branch

 
  ARG706 Chief Commissioner

Location: SA
Some guy on 5AA was just talking about the Chowilla dam, which reminded me that there was a branch laid to Chowilla but services never eventuated.

Does anybody know what traffic was proposed to run on this line and the operating protocols?

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  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
I never knew that there was a special branch built for the Chowilla dam project. There may have been a long siding constructed around Paringa on the Renmark branch.

I would like to know what was ever seriously proposed in the rail development for the Chowilla project. I would presume that the line would have carried construction materials and also have had some plan for its use as a freight centre branch for produce from an expansion of irrigation farming in the region.
  rhino Chief Commissioner

Location: Oakbonk SA
The Chowilla branch never eventuated, but earthworks were done northeast of Paringa, and the cuttings are still visible today, through the sandridges in the fields. Also, west of Murray Bridge, at Kinchina, earthworks are visible for a siding to a quarry where the stone for the dam wall (and the ballast for the line?) was to be carted from. Fortunately the dam never got built (evaporation in that area played a big part in that) and the rails, as far as I know, never got laid.
  pjknife Assistant Commissioner

Location: Port Lincoln
Sixty FCD-class bogie flat wagons were constructed by Islington Workshops in 1967 to carry skips of rock for the Chowilla Dam project (F=flat, CD=Chowilla Dam). As it eventuated, they were not needed, and (as originally planned) they were rebuilt as SGX-class open wagons in 1970-72.
  ARG706 Chief Commissioner

Location: SA
So what commodity was the line actually approved for? I'm pretty sure the initial earthworks/corridor preparation etc was approved after some of the murraylands branches started closing.
  rhino Chief Commissioner

Location: Oakbonk SA
Primarily it was going to be used in conjunction with the construction of the dam, then, as Rodo says, probably to service a new horticulture area that would have used the water from the dam for irrigation. In 1967 I suspect that the only line closed out there would have been the one heading north from Wanbi towards Yinkanie. Maybe the Barmera line was closed beyond Paringa, I'm not sure. The Waikerie line and the Peebinga line were in use right up until the main south got gauge converted around 1995.
  4BJ Chief Commissioner

Location: Backside trackside at Hawthorn near Mitcham
My understanding is what killed the Chowilla Dam project was the discovery of salt domes underneath what would been the resultant reservoir. Seepage from the reservoir into the ground would have resulted in the reservoir being saltier than seawater.  One plus from the cancellation of Chowilla was that the order for six more 930's was altered and the six locos became the 700 class.
  rhino Chief Commissioner

Location: Oakbonk SA
That does sound familiar - it was a long long time ago and I was still in short pants when all that happened Laughing
  ike1 Assistant Commissioner

as at the time it was politicial it ended being a bum fight through state / federal goverments vic / sa chowilla /darmouth(dartmore )and the latter won
the track was laid into kinchinna (murray bridge ) u can still see old track alightment
new engines ordered ?.
trucks and skips where built and stored at islington and port adelaide
extra crews appointed at tailem bend
line was built into dam site around yamba area
the idea was to allow water to flow into dam area and settle then flow back into murray river  to allow salt to stay in dam area similiar to what happens in noora salt basin and allow the murray to be salt free ha ha  
the idea of using skips was going to be used when loaded  train arrived at site and placed for unloading skips where picked up at placed /dumped to make face for dam wall then returned to train
after dam was lost to victoria line was closed track ripped up in lenghts of rails and sleepers and placed on flat tops and bought down to karoonda and taken out to waikerie line and relayed around karronda to  copeville area
no tracks /lines  where going  to be closed
the line to yinkannie was closed a/c no patronage
this is just a brief tale of what i remember as this occured approx 35 years ago

ike1
  allan Chief Commissioner

I reckon that some, or all of the FCD flatcars were hired to VR before they were rebuilt...

There's a photo at the NRM site.
http://www.natrailmuseum.org.au/exhibitions/misc_vehicles/index.html
  Alco_Haulic Chief Commissioner

Location: Eating out...
One plus from the cancellation of Chowilla was that the order for six more 930's was altered and the six locos became the 700 class.
"4BJ"


It was only an order for 3 930's, but it was extended to 6 when it was changed to 700's.
  409 Minister for Railways

The are odd looking wagons aren't they? I would assume that the skips were dismountable and had the contents dumped by a road crane.
  trainznbuses Train Controller

Location: Seacliff Park, SA
Sorry to drag up this pre-historic thread but I was having a mess around with Google Maps/Earth tonight and I stumbled across this.
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Wanuarra&ie=UTF8&t=h&om=1&ll=-34.19725,140.839148&spn=0.045931,0.079823&z=14
You can make out the alignment of the old track all of the way through to Chowilla.
Until I saw this, I never even knew that there was a plan for this line or that it even existed.
The thread didn't really give too much away but did the line to Chowilla even see ANY traffic at all or not?
  allan Chief Commissioner

Another tid-bit.

The FCD wagons were used by the VR to carry pipes, nine at a time, to Lyndhurst, somewhere in or near Gippsland, in the late 1960s. There were 37,000 tons of these pipes!
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

The Waikerie line and the Peebinga line were in use right up until the main south got gauge converted around 1995.
"rhino"


Huh? Are you sure of that? I can't be exactly sure but was under the impression these these lines closed sometime before 1995.  

I recall even a photo in Catchpoint of what I think turned out to be the last train to Peebinga -a rather dull block of AHDLs and two 830s sometime in 1989-90 I think . . . and there was talk of closure of the Waikerie line as back as far as the late 80s, the excuse being that the silos were damaged.  

Ben
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

The line from Galga to Waikerie closed 14.3.90.  

Further, November 1991 Catchpoint reported that Karoonda-Galga had not seen a train for 12 months- 30.11.90

They also reported 'maybe' the last train from Peebinga on 11.7.91, a rather pedestrian consist of 832/831 and a block of AHDLs. Check the back of the Sept 1991 issue for a picture.  

I doubt very much these lines worked up until 1995.  

Ben
  rhino Chief Commissioner

Location: Oakbonk SA
I bow to your superior sleuthing Ben! Thanks. Smile
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

Well . . . I'm not claiming any kind of glory as I cannot see mentions of these lines in later years of Catchpoint, odd as they usually made note of line closures in earlier years.  

But I reckon they would have petered out around this time.

There was one mention in Catchpoint as to what would happen to remaining Mallee lines with standardisation coming up, where I think they said only Apamurra, Pinnaroo and Loxton were open, for grain only.  Was probably 1993-94.

Ben
  Steve Dann Beginner

Well . . . I'm not claiming any kind of glory as I cannot see mentions of these lines in later years of Catchpoint, odd as they usually made note of line closures in earlier years. But I reckon they would have petered out around this time. There was one mention in Catchpoint as to what would happen to remaining Mallee lines with standardisation coming up, where I think they said only Apamurra, Pinnaroo and Loxton were open, for grain only. Was probably 1993-94. Ben
"benscaro"


All,

I can testify that there definitely was a line out to the Chowilla dam site, and at least one train with one, possibly two flatbeds, made the trip out there to test the track.

My father was in charge of construction and we lived at Chowilla in the mid 60's, as did several other families involved, along with a number of men residing in the camp.

It was a big day when the train made it's first trip and I still have photos somewhere of it arriving at the site.

The dam wall was to be built well above Lock 6, and during the time I was there we even had our own ferry crossing the Murray.

I holiday up in the area on a houseboat every couple of years with the family and from the top of the cliffs the line cleared for the dam wall is still faintly visible, and the ferry moorings still exist.

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