Branch Of The Week - CECIL PLAINS

 
  1461 Golden Holden Chief Commissioner

Location: On a date with Nikki Webster
Once again, it appears that our previous "Branch of The Week"s have run their course!

To date, we have gone for a nostalgic wander up the Texas, Allora, Brisbane Valley and Injune Branches.

Today, lets take a stroll along the Cecil Plains line!

To start, what I can tell you is;

There were three staff sections in the late 80's - early 90's before the line was shut;

Oakey - Boolee (White sqare)
Boolee - Evanslea (Blue Round)
Evanslea - Cecil plains (Red diamond).

Closer to the end, Boolee was considered part of Oakey station "yard".

It was mainly prime 1700 - 1720 class territory, although I have travelled the line once by 1901 class railmotor, and once behind C17 974.

The only station buildings on the line towards the end were;

Aubigny ( a small tin shed, skillion roof and picket gate - similar to waiting shed formerly at Greenmount)
Mount Tyson (cream shed and gang trolley sheds only)
Purrawunda ( A railmotor type shed, similar to that of the likes of Malmoe, Grosvenor on the Monto Branch, or Doboy in Brisbane - a basic single pitched skillion rooved shed).
Cecil Plains ( A proper station building, built of the pre-fab concrete kit construction, almost identical to that of Mulgildie, Eidsvold, Abercorn etc on the Monto branch).

Boolee and Evanslea were small green wooden boxes about 2m tall by 1m square, with nameboard attached tot he supporting stilts, that only housed a control phone and the staff boxes.

Cecil Plains was the last station to have an attendance, with a Station Mistress keeping things in order until the line quietened off.

It would have shut (I trust someone will be able to provide an exact date) completely by 1994, as I know in 92 / 93 a few grain specials made it to Bongeen and Norwin, and a steamer made it to Aubigny in 93, as I understand the line from Aubigny to cecil Plains was by that stage considered questionable for traffic.

From memory, it was a fairly flat, reasonably straight country branch line with limited features by way of scenery. There were some nice creek and river crossings closer to Cecil Plains, where the line crossed the Condamine River. On the last trip I went on (an ARHS steam tour with 974), it was a typical country affair, with local clubs, groups and misc, providing ample BBQ's and food / drink stalls, along with entertainment being provided by way of bush poetry, and the local SES giving rides in their boat up the river a little, for a small donation. I did truly enjoy the simplicity and sincerity of true bush hospitality back then....

There were a multitude of grain silos along the branch, as well as a major cotton gin ( at Cecil Plains IIRC), so its closure was questionable, - but then again, so has been the closure of many branches...but lets not dwell on this. The last time I saw the line was when driving a coach load of golfers to a rather p1ssy golf day at Cecil Plains back in 96, and by then the line beyond Boolee was well and truly roooted - most of it toward Cecil Plains had been washed away.

I am aware that they MAY still be stroing wagons at Boolee, which is only 1km or less from Oakey station, and to do this, the highway level crossing had to be reactivated.

So, what does anyone else recall / know about this classic little black-soil branch? Very Happy

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  Graham4405 Minister for Railways
  GEintheND Chief Commissioner

Location: North Queensland
Bellow is the Working Timetable for the Cecil Plains Branch as of June, 1959.



The meaning of the lines station names as listed in the Nomenclature of Railway Station dated November 1956:

Station         Meaning
Oakey -                   After adjacent creek.
Pump House Siding - Not Listed.
Tangkam   -             Sour.
Yargullen    -            Water hole on plain.
Aubigny   -               Name of settlement.
Purrawunda       -     Big fight.
Motley   -                 After parish and receiving office.
Boora-Mugga      -    Very good land.
Mount Tyson   -        Adjacent mountain.
Mondam        -         Cloud.
Evanslea     -            After Railway Commissioner C. Evans.
Norillee    -               Mountain chain.
Bongeen    -              Box forest.
Norwin    -                Windy place.      
Mywybilla   -             A clump of trees.
Nangwee      -           Muddy water.
Horrane       -           Red-gum flat.
Cecil Plains       -      Name of township.


Picture of Mount Tyson.


Cheers
Rob
  Trainboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Toowoomba
Another beauty.....

Personally I wonder that the line isn't still open to Beef City (I'm always spouting off about that, here and elsewhere) cattle in- reefers out.

Any reasonable soul who regularly drives the Cecil Plains Road from Toowoomba will tell you that it has deteriorated since the railway was closed. A farmer from out that way told me that the closure of the line was more political manuevering than any 'need' to close a railway.

This same fellow informed me that QR was calling for tenders for removal of the line. In fact, the rails and sleepers might even have been sold, and are now waiting to be picked off the ground. The funny thing was, the removal date was scheduled for sometime in October/November, and was then pushed forwards to January. Whether the rails remain in May is unbeknownst to me. Rolling Eyes

Where exactly is Boolee? When I was out at Oakey last I did see some rather dilapadated looking wagons on the line near the meatworks -which are fairly close to Oakey station.

[quote] I am aware that they MAY still be stroing wagons at Boolee, which is only 1km or less from Oakey station, and to do this, the highway level crossing had to be reactivated. [quote]/

GH, which highway crossing do you mean? When they built the bypass, they went completely over the railway -you barely even realise that one is there. There are still lights etc where the line crosses the main street in Oakey.

This is a great thread -keep the replies rolling in.

http://gallery.qrig.org/main.php/v/users/Trainboy/cecilplains/?

I have a few photos of the Purrawundra silo and siding in my gallery -refer to the above link.

Cheers[/quote]
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Whether the rails remain in May is unbeknownst to me.  
"Trainboy"
They were still there in April...
Where exactly is Boolee?  When I was out at Oakey last I did see some rather dilapadated looking wagons on the line near the meatworks -which are fairly close to Oakey station.
"Trainboy"
That is Boolee
GH, which highway crossing do you mean?
"Trainboy"
I suspect he means the LC on the old highway where the CP branch leaves the main.
When they built the bypass, they went completely over the railway -you barely even realise that one is there.
"Trainboy"
The tracks are still embedded in the (bypass) road, they may have been bitumened over though...
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
For a line closed in 1994, its actually still listed on the QR network access website and includes a track diagram.

Regards
Shane
  EMBaldwin Chief Commissioner

Location: Amongst the Cane Fields
Actually - AFAIK, Cecil Plains is only "mothballed", which would explain it still being included in track diagrams etc.   Would no doubt take a crap load of dosh to get it serviceable again though
  Trainboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Toowoomba
Especially if its been ripped up !  Razz

Even the Grainco/Graincorp sidings are listed as privately owned sidings.  

I can just imagine it, someone asking Network Access if they can use the line -and it's all gone....

Would Grainco need to give QR permission to remove their sidings, seeing that they own them?
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Would Grainco need to give QR permission to remove their sidings, seeing that they own them?
"Trainboy"
When QR removes tracks it is the responsibility of the owner of private sidings to remove/have them removed at their own expense. AFAIK the tracks have not been removed from the CP branch (they were still there last month as stated above).
  colinw Chief Commissioner

The last time I was out that way by rail, I noticed that Oakey station still sports one of the few "change here" signs remaining on a QR station.

Oakey
Change Here for Cecil Plains

The only other one I have seen in recent years is "Change Here for Monto" at Mungar.

As a kid growing up in Toowoomba, the Cecil Plains branch was just part of the scenery.  We often used to go for drives and picnics in that part of the world, and it was by no means unusual to see a relatively long grain train on the branch.

Why it was allowed to run down and close is a complete mystery to me, as it crosses some of the richest wheat growing land on the downs.  Cecil Plains should have had the minimal upgrade to 90 tonne DELs the way Millmerran, Jandowae, Meandarra, etc. have.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Why it was allowed to run down and close is a complete mystery to me, as it crosses some of the richest wheat growing land on the downs.  Cecil Plains should have had the minimal upgrade to 90 tonne DELs the way Millmerran, Jandowae, Meandarra, etc. have.
"colinw"


It's a no brainer really.
Though know the 'Downs reasonably well, I also know that generally, the road transport industry has taken almost all what rail used to carry.
Isn't agriculture bit sick on the 'Downs at the moment with the drought etc?
The Vinelander.
  colinw Chief Commissioner

I'm not sure just what the "no brainer" to which you refer is, as you obviously haven't been to the downs lately.

Most wheat traffic is still on rail, but predominantly from main line silos as well as a couple of the upgraded branches, in particular Millmerran and Meandarra.

Tonnage has been down due to drought, but in harvest season you can see many grain trains coming off the western & south western lines.

The Cecil Plains line grain has been transferred (by road) to main line silos like Malu, just west of Jondaryan.

Don't just take my word for it 'though, have a look at the 2004-2005 QR Annual Report.
http://www.corporate.qr.com.au/Images/71214_QR_AnnReport_tcm15-10554.pdf

Specifically, page 9:
"Other Bulk and Containerised Freight

Although the coal sector is booming, it has been a challenging time for many of Queensland’s other primary producers. The drought has affected bulk freight customers such as livestock producers, and our livestock freight movements were consequently down by 16.5% on last year. On a more positive note, the haulage of grain was up 61% on last year to 967,800 tonnes."

The annual QLD wheat crop is about 1.3 million tonnes, 2005-2005 projection (see http://www.abareconomics.com/cropreport/htm/qld.html ) is 1,385,000 tonnes.  That means rail's share of the transport task is nearly 70%, so characterising this freight as "lost to rail" is just plain wrong.
  1461 Golden Holden Chief Commissioner

Location: On a date with Nikki Webster
Whether the rails remain in May is unbeknownst to me.  
"Trainboy"
They were still there in April...
Where exactly is Boolee?  When I was out at Oakey last I did see some rather dilapadated looking wagons on the line near the meatworks -which are fairly close to Oakey station.
"Trainboy"
That is Boolee
GH, which highway crossing do you mean?
"Trainboy"
I suspect he means the LC on the old highway where the CP branch leaves the main.
When they built the bypass, they went completely over the railway -you barely even realise that one is there.
"Trainboy"
The tracks are still embedded in the (bypass) road, they may have been bitumened over though...
"Graham4405"


The above is correct. I should have clarified. The level crossing lights I was reffering to as being reactivated were across the old highway in Oakey itself. When the Oakey bypass was built (and this would be another great excuse fro QR never to reopen the line), the new bypas highway was dumped fair on top of the line. If you look carefully, you can still see and feel the rails passing under the bitumen. If you had a heavy enough loco, Im sure it would push through the bitumen quite easily.

I could never quite figure out the justification of the existence of Boolee as a staff section, but I guess it made life simpler when shunting Boolee only if there was another train further out on the branch.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Thankyou Colinw.
I stand corrected & I'm please to read of QR's healthy share of freight.
Especially in view of the poor situation of intrastate rail freight in my state of Victoria.
The Vinelander.
  colinw Chief Commissioner

For now ...  But we do seem to be going down the NSW/Victoria road, although somewhat slower.

Given what emerged in the Jandowae & Wandoan thread about Graincorp closing secondary silos and lack of traffic on the Wandoan & Jandowae branches, I have to wonder if that healthy 70% or so share will drop in years to come.

The trend is definitely downwards - when I think back to the system when I was a kid growing up in Toowoomba all of the remaining branches - Cecil Plains, Millmerran, Bell, Jandowae, Wandoan, Glenmorgan were open throughout and busy in season with grain trains.

Today just Millmerran and the Meandarra section of Glenmorgan remain, and while much of the traffic has gone to mainline silos you have to wonder what the long term trend is.

What particularly annoys me is that several of these branches - Millmerran, Meandarra, Jandowae, Wandoan have been strengthened to take 90 tonne DELs and don't suffer from "B" class line limits which restrict loadings.

What the hell are GrainCorp doing?  If they won't use the branch line silos, QR can't be expected to keep the lines open.  And if farmers are forced to truck to the mainline, you have to wonder if some of them will just consign by road all the way (or is that up to GrainCorp?)

I know my original reply to you was somewhat positive and optimistic, but I'm now wondering if that was misplaced.

Does anyone know what QR's share of wheat transport was say 10 years ago, or 20 years ago?
  Shawy Chief Train Controller

I had the good fortune to see what was presumably one of the last grain trains to run on the line, in March 1993. It was destined for Bongeen from memory, at least that's where my photos were taken. We'd been lucky to see the train at all as we thought we were running late (which we were) but the train was even later! We only saw the train's headlight across the plains by accident. Fortunately I got some nice shots - two of which can be found on my web page:


http://home.primus.com.au/brindabella/Railgrafx/Qld1/page13.html

http://home.primus.com.au/brindabella/Railgrafx/Qld1/page14.html
  1461 Golden Holden Chief Commissioner

Location: On a date with Nikki Webster
I had the good fortune to see what was presumably one of the last grain trains to run on the line, in March 1993. It was destined for Bongeen from memory, at least that's where my photos were taken. We'd been lucky to see the train at all as we thought we were running late (which we were) but the train was even later! We only saw the train's headlight across the plains by accident. Fortunately I got some nice shots - two of which can be found on my web page:


http://home.primus.com.au/brindabella/Railgrafx/Qld1/page13.html

http://home.primus.com.au/brindabella/Railgrafx/Qld1/page14.html
"Shawy"


Strewth mate! We must have just missed you guys or something - I remember that occasion quiet clearly. There was also one to Norwin, IIRC. One day I will get around to loading up my gallery.... 8)
  Trainboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Toowoomba
There is one thing I can say: if fuel prices keep on spiralling (which they probably will...) and environmental awareness keeps on growing, the road transport sector will have an increasingly difficult time of it.

Assuming Graincorp don't demolish their silos, there is nothing to stop them from restoring them should the need arise.

If the Inland Rail ever goes through, we may see more grain trains.
  coyote Chief Train Controller

Location: ..........On the other side of the Far side of the Black Stump beyond the back of Bourke.
The Tolga silos are gone, they were pulled down as they were consider dangerous and past their life span. Karie might be next.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
There is one thing I can say: if fuel prices keep on spiralling (which they probably will...) and environmental awareness keeps on growing, the road transport sector will have an increasingly difficult time of it.

Assuming Graincorp don't demolish their silos, there is nothing to stop them from restoring them should the need arise.

If the Inland Rail ever goes through, we may see more grain trains.
"Trainboy"


Hi Trainboy
Some of the reasons why we see less grain silo's rather than more have been discussed before and its not all anti rail stuff. In many cases the crop isn't grown anymore and if it is its used locally rather than just being exported or shipped elsewhere.

A classic example of less grain in the future will be if the Roma (I think Roma) ethanol plant gets up, then even less grain will be sent to Brisbane and may mean trucks hauling grain in from a certain radius from Roma or the rail lines are not set up well to service Roma so stuff from the Goonda might be road hauled due to the distance being much shorter by road.

And if the Inland railway does get up, I would expect to see many less silos not more. They would just build mega large storage facilities and close down many of the smaller NG silos. Whats left may make some lines still unviable. I would hazard a guess and say if the SG from Moree ever goes to Brisbane over 1000-1500km of NG will close in the SW, depending on the route and if it runs to Gladstone, then I'd say the lot would go.

Shane
  Trainboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Toowoomba
Shane, I agree that farming and land use does change (for example the shift from wool to beef in Western Queensland).  However, changing land use and the rise of economic rationalism can't be used to simply ditch rail.

The only reason road transport remains viable is because all of its false economies are heavily subsidised by us -the taxpayers.  If our economy was free of the uneven road-rail balance, we would be seeing a lot more rail traffic on even the less profitable branchlines, and I daresay a bit more decentralisation.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
if the Roma (I think Roma) ethanol plant gets up
"RTT_Rules"
That would be Dalby! Smile
  Trainboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Toowoomba
A classic example of less grain in the future will be if the Roma (I think Roma) ethanol plant gets up, then even less grain will be sent to Brisbane and may mean trucks hauling grain in from a certain radius from Roma or the rail lines are not set up well to service Roma so stuff from the Goonda might be road hauled due to the distance being much shorter by road.


If 'Goonda' means Goondiwindi, then grain haulage to Dalby from Gundy starts to make even more sense.  The road/rail distance starts to even up a bit.  Anyway, Goondiwindi-Brisbane is further by rail than road, and we still have most of our grain from that way going by rail.  Just because rail takes longer in some cases doesn't rule it out as being inefficient.
  Shawy Chief Train Controller

OK, so this reviving a really old thread but I thought some people might be interested.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been for a drive down the old Cecil Plains line and photographing some of what's left, especially the old grain silos. The results are here if anyone wants to have a look:https://flic.kr/s/aHskGbHVRJ

There is very little to see other than the silos, the formation is visible in some places but very overgrown as you'd imagine, there are short lengths of rail in place across many of the level crossings but other than Cecil Plains I didn't see any rail-related structures.

I've also been out on the Jandowae line and done the same, photos to follow in a couple of weeks.

Cheers

Alan
  tazzer96 Deputy Commissioner

Why it was allowed to run down and close is a complete mystery to me, as it crosses some of the richest wheat growing land on the downs.  Cecil Plains should have had the minimal upgrade to 90 tonne DELs the way Millmerran, Jandowae, Meandarra, etc. have.
Alot of the reasons why freight to the west and south of toowoomba went downhill is the range crossing into brisbane.   No doubt toowoomba-helidon is the worst section of any mainline in the nation.

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