Westbound coalie with 90 and 82 class from Pitnacree Road bridge. . .
Wednesday, April 15: Finally, a day that dawned clear-blue! We scarfed down a free Continental breakfast in the "kitchen" area upstairs in the Belmont (toast and jelly, with orange juice; we avoided the complimentary Vegemite spread) and Lance painstakingly packed the hire car for the next leg of our trip. We all had so goddamn much stuff that in order for it to fit, everything had to be loaded in a particular order. I wasn't much help--my big suitcase was weighing around 60 lbs or more, loaded down as it was with books from the ARHS bookstore at Sydney Central.
The morning was spent atop the Pitnacree Road overbridge at East Maitland--a "hack" location, per Charlie--that is perhaps the most popular place to photograph trains in the Lower Hunter Valley. Morning light on trains in both directions is good here owing to the sweeping curve on the four-track main (up and down main tracks for both freight and passenger). If you've seen shots from East Maitland, chances they were from here. The holes ripped in the chain-link fencing to accomodate camera attests to that.
Paul chats it up with Ted Rose, as much a fixture on the Pitnacree Road bridge as the holes in the chain-link for photography and the NSFW grafitti. .
Ted keeps track of every train seen in a series of notebooks. . .
We were there before 0700, but we weren't the first: Ausloco and HunterRail yahoo list Iron Man Ted Rose was already up and at it, keeping track of each and every train movement under the bridge--the train numbers, their loco consists, the time they passed. Nothing got by Ted, and he was constantly trading sightings and information with others via his Cell Phone. We've got a few "train spotters" in this traditional vein in the DFW area (see: Richard Whitenight), but in NSW, such devoted followers to a single location aren't rare. We each took turns chatting with Ted so the others could take in the stillness of the morning. But it was Paul who really "took one for the team." Good on ya, Mate!
Two Hunter Valley interurban servies meet in front of us. . .
Outside of the Sydney metro district, Newcastle-Maitland is one of the busiest stretches of railway in the country. Between 0700 and 0900, we saw ten freight trains and probably a dozen passenger trains, mostly two-car CityRail local services between Newcastle and Maitland using "Hunter Valley Cars" in the 2500, 2700 and 2800 series. Some of the trains continue as far as Scone and Dungog. There's also CountryLink Sydney-Moree/Armidale Endeavours and several XPT's up the North Coast towards Brisbane daily, but we left before seeing any of these. Most of the freight traffic we saw were coal trains with a mix of the usual Pacific National 82, 90 and new (but getting dirty) 92 class, with a few ex-Victorian G class tossed in as well. QRNational coal was headed by a pair of 5000-class GE's. We saw three Brisbane PN freights as well, NR's on the lead (oh joy!) and with a green AN in the middle of the consist. The best, of course, was a loaded Pelton train, its arrival announced well in advanced by its whistling-shithouse collection of a PL and three 48s.
Two 5000-class C40 GE's on QR National coal empties. . .
A pair of new 92 Class PacNational GE's bracket two ex-Victorian G class EMD's (still on old Freight Australia green paint). . .
One of three PacNat North Coast freight seen in a row, all led by NR class. This one had an AN-class EMD still in Australian National paint in the middle. . .
Less than a year old, but already grungy, PacNat 92 class on a coal empty. . .
At High Street station, Maitland: Down XPT bound for the North Coast zips by without stopping. . .
80 Class on grainer at Murulla: a nice surprise!
Shadows in the cut ruined this view of an El Zorro grain train with leased power led by SCT G class EMD at Murulla. . .