Orange Station and East Fork

 
  ANR 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.

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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 Driver

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 Assistant Commissioner

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 Chief 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.