Do you mean to say that trains going via Bacchus Marsh and returning via North Shore can do so without changing ends? I can't see how it's possible from the map.
They ran tender first between Ballarat and North Geelong and used the triangle and yard at North Geelong to return to Melbourne "the right way 'round".
The locos are restricted to running at a slower speed when going tender first, meaning they couldn't have fit between the timetabled services on the busy Ballarat line.
A combination of old age and bad experiences, heavily loaded with cynicism, says it could have been done if there was any official will to do it.
I too suspect this is the case. A damn shame if that is all it is, the crowd today certainly shows there is enough interest in the general public, not just us gunzels to justify keeping the required infrastructure available for use.
Also been reported the Gunzel Convoy was about 40 cars long near Bacchus Marsh this morning following the train.
At least, if not more than that. Particularly between McCormacks Rd (AKA Dog Trap Gully Rd, near the top of the infamous Ingliston Bank) and Ballan. Easily the biggest gunzel convoy I've ever been a part of. Mostly well behaved too from what I witnessed, which is not always the case.
All in all the Down journey ran very well. The train ran express all of the way from Southern Cross to Bank Box loop where it crossed an UP after only waiting about 5 minutes. It then continued on to Ballan and arrived into the new platform 2 where it was greeted by a large crowd of locals. It then departed and made its way to the down end of Ballan crossing loop where it was overtaken by a DOWN service and waited for a corresponding UP to cross.
It was then full steam ahead and arrived on time into Ballarat platform 2 at 11:08.
This when the news was floating around that access to the turntable had been denied and the return re-routed.
I must say both locomotives appeared to be running beautifully and the carriages looked excellent, especially BK700 and BRS14 which have both had an overhaul including a decent repaint and now look brand new again.
I didn't stick around for the return via Gheringhap, but I assume all went well?