A bit sad to hear, but unfortunately this was inevitable. The mines life had already been extended by 10 years.
The P trains were nearly always an enjoyable job. A whole shift, around 9 hrs, from Bluff to Bluff. You were generally on your own from Burngrove West. Timber sleepers made for a comfy ride.
But operational restrictions on the Springsure branch screwed the job. It used to be 80kph to Nagoa, then 50kph down to Minerva and back, then 60kph back to Burngrove. But track conditions brought a blanket 25kph restriction on the entire Springsure branch, and a requirement to stop on air, loaded, prior to Sandhurst Ck at Fernlees, then proceed across with zero power or DB on either leads or remotes. These restrictions meant relief was always planned for the job.
In addition, the 106 tonne wagons were never fully utilised.
Great memories of the job. Nearly hitting a helicopter with our train. Blocking 3 road crossings, including the one to the airport for about an hour, with a crook train. Slowing to dodge cattle being driven along the corridor, and waving to the drovers. Getting breath tested by a copper at about 2am, while waiting to relieve a loaded train, near 7km ballast siding, and the copper unable to understand what we were doing there at that time of night, in spite of the company branding on vehicles, uniforms, etc.