Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The old girl retires

S302 leads the 1240 Melbourne to Warnambool train through Footscray in Melbourne's inner west on 6 October 2005.

On January 9 2006 S302 made possibly her last journey as a front line locomotive in the V/Line fleet. In late 2004 the locomotive was brought out of storage and received much love and attention from EDI at Newport for a new lease on life. Returned to traffic in early 2005, she spent the best part of a year plying the rails on the daily 535 km round journey between Melbourne to Warnambool. Her return to service was not without trouble, having a reputation for unreliability and being speed restricted to 100 kmh as opposed to the usual 115 kmh for passenger trains on this route. Her future is uncertain.

Built in 1957 at Clyde Engineering in Sydney, she spent 37 years in service with the Victorian Railways (later known as Vicrail for a short period in the early 80's then V/Line) before being sold of in 1994. She was bought by the fledgling West Coast Railway along with other aging B, S and T class locomotives and other items of aging rolling stock. West Coast Railway was the private company that won the contract to provide the now privatised rail service between Melbourne and Warnambool.

This venture was somewhat of a success and acheived growth in passenger numbers. In the mid 2000s however things started to go wrong, first with the death of the company founder and CEO, followed by structural problems with the company's fleet of veteran diesel locomotives. This lead to the suspension of the rail service mid way through 2004. In late 2004 the company was wound up and rail services were again provided by the state owned V/Line, who purchased a number of items of rollingstock as well as locomotive S302 in order to be able to run the service.

Relevant links:

No comments: