Time of another post I think. Slightly more than two weeks worth due to rostering.
Two days off had me signing on, back at Dynon on Trainee #5, an earlier Night shift and notably things were beginning to pick up as I was rostered to a job every day with this trend continuing into the future. A 2017 start had us ‘travelling per’ to Newport to meet our train, which was Geelong bound. Waiting for it inside Newport signal box, we relieved its crew and set off for Geelong at 2310, with T325 being the motive power. We finally made it to North Geelong Yard, uncoupled and made our way the Geelong Loco getting there at 0035. We returned to Melbourne ‘travelling per’ in the van of the 0110 up goods, hauled by Y168. Our return to the depot was at 0300 and Manpower sent us to the Fuel Point 17 minutes later to complete the remaining hour of our shift.
Tuesdays start time was 2045, once again travelling to Newport to meet our train but tonight heading towards Bendigo. T365 was the loco in charge and having made our way directly to Sunshine we continued on until Kyneton where we changed over with a Bendigo crew. Leaving Kyneton on the up with triple headed T class, being nos. 362, 337 and 350, we returned the way we’d come getting relief at Newport. For a change we stayed in T362 and, leaving Newport at 0730, took it back to Dynon light engine leaving our relief crew to suffer the cramped cab of a flat top T all the way to Geelong. We arrived back on the depot at 0755 and signing off at 0815 after 11 and a half hours on duty.
Back again at 1915 I had pushed the minimum time off regulations after finishing so late on Wednesday as I was originally rostered for the 1840 Warragul goods but with a minimum of 11 hours between shifts, that had to be changed. I still went east but with the 2010 goods instead, bound for Warragul and beyond. Our loco was L1153 and after departing from the East Yard we made it all the way to Warragul itself. We stopped at the platform and a local crew relieved us. The up goods for us had L1150 at the front with our departure at 2240 for the Melbourne Arrival Yard. We got the L back over ‘the pit’ at 0155 and had a seat before being called upon again by Manpower at 0230. We headed back to Newport again with Y116 ‘light’ which we handed over to another crew there, to return to the depot by taxi where we arrived back at 0345 and signed off at 0400.
A 2030 start on Thursday had us once again on our way to Newport, this time to meet the 2145 Seymour goods. T358 & B83 provided the horsepower for us to work through Brooklyn, Sunshine, Broadmeadows and on down the line as far as Tallarook. We changed over at 0315 onto T394, with T386 in support, bound for Melbourne, not Newport for a change. We got these two locos back to Dynon at 0515 for an 0530 sign off.
The Time Office seemed determined that I run the 1840 Warragul goods that week as they rostered me for it again, signing on at 1805, but the Manpower clerk had different ideas. I was swapped to the 1835 Seymour, departing from the Centre Yard instead, with T324, for my second run on that line that week. We made it past Tallarook this time actually getting all the way to Seymour, a first for me to that point. Our return train, departing at 2320, was hauled by two Y class, nos. 158 and 108, which meant no VC for either of us. These two locos did their job efficiently enough that we left the train in the Arrivals Yard and were back over the pit and signing off at 0250.
It ought to be evident that the grain season that year was a good one, based on the traffic working through Newport bound for Geelong. Dynon crews didn’t see any of that traffic from the western district but that coming off the Bendigo and Seymour lines was enough to keep us very busy. Only Mondays shift finished on 8 hours and the accumulated total for me was 46 hours for the week, equivalent to working six standard shifts; good for the pay packet but less so for sleep.
Trainee #6 was an Afternoon shift with starts scheduled for 1400 but instead of being booked for standby I was rostered to jobs for the whole week, mostly Pilots for the first 5 days, and actually worked 8 days straight, so I’ll run right through to my next OR this time.
Monday was 1435 for the 1500 East Yard Pilot, using Y106. This yard prepared all eastern bound trains, cleared ‘A’ balloon and shunted No. 1 goods sheds and adjacent sidings. Part of number 1 shed is now preserved at Bylands with the TMSV due to its age and heritage status. Sign off was at 2305 although I get the impression I was on my way home at 2200.
Tuesday was 1457 on for the 1500 Hump Yard Pilot, using H4 and 5. We took these two off the pit instead of having to walk to the Arrival Yard and, as I noted specifically that it was the first unit, there was a second pair of H class rostered to the Hump that afternoon. Sign off was 2333.
Wednesdays start was earlier, 1357 for the 1400 #5 Dock Pilot. There were around eight Pilots for the Melbourne Docks, each one covering a very specific area of the port. We found our Y class, number 137, in the depot yard and went to work. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you which Dock # Pilot worked which area. At least one cleared some of ‘D’ balloons roads as well as working around the Canal Yard but the bulk of our time was spent actually in the port sidings moving wagons and rakes of them as required, before shifting them to and from the main yards in Melbourne. Trips might be made into the Centre Yard for loads heading to the north or west. For the work on offer, eight Pilots was excessive in hind sight; one or two could have done the same job with a lot more efficiency but at the expense of the crew and shunters working significantly more. However, it was an interesting experience getting out amongst the container reach stackers and overhead container cranes and the ships they were loading or unloading. We returned 137 to the depot at 2155 and signed off at 2210.
On Thursday we signed on at 1444 for one of the 1500 Spencer St Pass Yard Pilots. Sixteen minutes until we were supposed to start the job would imply we took F202 off the pit for this one. I doubt anyone could be expected to walk to North Melbourne station, catch a spark to Spencer St and then walk over to the Bank sidings to their loco in that time. In those days, before the ‘New Deal,’ passenger trains were made up to meet someone’s idea of the passenger numbers offering for each train, so there was a constant adding or removing carriages from trains, usually within the Bank sidings themselves but occasionally at the platforms. Three Pass Yard Pilots worked at the same time and didn’t get much rest except for a meal break. The sidings were full of wooden bodied carriages of varying ages and comfort however, the S and Z classes were in fairly constant use so didn’t sit in the sidings for long, except for the interior to be cleaned. I was signed off at 2310; I doubt very much that I made the journey back to Dynon, going directly home instead.
For Friday I signed on at 1435 for the 1500 Canal Yard Pilot. This was a group of sidings bounded by Footscray Rd to the south, the North Melbourne Truck Shops to the north, Moonee Ponds creek to the west and the West and Cowper St Yards to the East. There were a couple of loading sheds there then but for the lack of loading places this Pilot still seemed to be on the move most of the time. Some trains departed from here, generally in the afternoon heading towards South Australia but to basic appearances it was a ‘nothing’ area.
So, we shunted as needed using Y!08 until 2250 when our relief arrived and made our way back to the depot, with our sign off happening at 2325.
Saturday, I ought to have still been starting in the early afternoon but instead it was late morning; 1127 to be precise for the 1200 Princes Bridge Pilot, abbreviated to PB Pilot for obvious reasons, operated by F203. Day and Afternoon versions of this Pilot dealt with country passenger trains coming in from the Eastern Region; i.e. through Dandenong. Essentially, it was a lone, smaller, version of a Spencer St Pass Yard Pilot. The Night shift technically did the same but the lack of passenger trains running in those hours sort of defeated the purpose of it. About the only real things it did on Night shift was clear away the last trains from platform 1 and prepare a few really early ones before the Day shift took over. There were two banks of sidings where now a pile of townhouses are sited between the Jolimont and Richmond lines. These were subdivided into two groups, the Collingwood, wired for sparks, and the Country Sidings which weren’t wired. A small supply of spare carriages were available here to modify passenger trains in the same way as Spencer St did. At that time few, if any, Eastern Region trains ran through Flinders St to Spencer St, probably as Spencer St wasn’t really configured for dealing with trains heading east. At 1820 we left the F in the sidings with a relief crew and made our way to platform 1 to relieve the up Bairnsdale pass, better known as the ‘Gippslander’. We took charge of L116 at 1835, while the new PB Pilot crew came up to remove the carriages from the platform. We headed west over the viaduct to return the L to Dynon leaving it in the fuel point at 1920 and signing off 15 minutes later. It took a few minutes at most to walk from the ‘Point’ to the Manpower Office window, but there was some agreement between Union and Officialdom that we were entitled to 15 minutes from the time we got a loco into the fuel point before signing off. I don’t know if it was an official one or just some gentlemen’s agreement within the depot but it certainly existed, as I benefited from it continually.
For my seventh day straight, I was rostered for 0730 standby, now on Trainee #7. My rest was broken as I was given the task of getting to Flinders St to relieve the crew of an up special pass hauled by B68, which arrived at 0915. With a B up front it most likely came from Korrumburra or beyond, but that is a guess. We took the train to Spencer St where it terminated; one of the few to do so, as I’ve just mentioned, and left both loco and train where it terminated as we finished that job at 0930. The loco would have been put on a down pass from Spencer St and the carriages shunted or, likewise, re-used. Making our way back to Dynon we had a breather before getting assigned to the Fuel Point at 1300. I don’t remember if my driver had his 8 hours up at 1430 or whether I’d just plain had enough, especially with yet another day still to come, because that’s when my shift finished and I headed for home.
Back on the depot again at 0540, rostered for a Dandenong goods, I had my first experience of an ‘Electric Chair’ more officially known as an E class, number 1102 to be precise. We found it in 7 road and left the depot for the East Yard. Coupled up and with the brake test complete we set off at 0615. This could have been described as a Dandenong Pilot, apart from the fact there was an actual Dande Pilot, as it was known, generally a Y class worked by what I understood to be an out-stationed crew in the same way that Tottenham had its out-stationed crews. We shunted at a number of locations along the way on the down trip, such as Malvern. Loco crews, in common with most Aussies, abbreviated anything and everything; for example, grain trains, irrespective of what the actual type of grain was, were known as ‘Wheaty’s’, petroleum, likewise, were ‘Oily’s’, the Kilmore East quarry, the ’Apex’ and so on. We didn’t actually make it to Dandenong, only as far as Caulfield where we entered the goods sidings on the south west end to run around and prepare to return to Melbourne. Departing the yard at 0740, we made a direct run for the Arrivals Yard getting the loco back to Dynon at 0935, without any shocks which gave them their nickname. Supposedly, one engineman was actually blown out the, thankfully open, cab window by one of these rather uncomfortable and somewhat dangerous beasts. At 1200 we ended up on Fuel Point duty to finish the shift and a well-earned day off; yes, only one sadly.
Edit: my original text indicated that the 'new' viaduct between Flinders and Spencer Streets was not open at this date. That was incorrect as it actually opened in December 1978. I've adjusted the post to reflect this.