On a very humid morning in 1959 ,3801 on the N24 Up Newcastle Express (or "The Flyer" as it was commonly known glides down the 1 in 80 gradient towards Cardiff after after exiting the Tickhole Tunnel. N24 has just over another 2 hours to go before journey's end at Sydney.
Another busy day on the Sydney suburban network, as Electric B Sets ("Red Rattlers") cross each between Newtown and MacDonaldtown. To cope with the volume of traffic necessary to carry commuters into and out of the city, three sets of tracks were operated between Sydney and Strathfield. The tracks nearest the camera are the "Locals" and allowed for stopping trains between Sydney and Stratfield. The middle set of tracks were the "Suburban" and carried outer suburban trains which commenced stopping after Strathfield. The tracks on the far right are the "Main" lines and carried all inter-urban traffic.
Whilst watching the passing parade of commuter trains, a commuter reflects on the benefits of electric train travel compared to steam. Sydney's commuter network was progressively electrified from 1 March, 1926 when the Sydney to Oatley section was electrified.
Double headed 46 Class Electric locomotives haul a freight train up the 1 in 40 Cowan bank. The overhead electrification of the Cowan to Hawkesbury River section of the Short North, on 12 April, 1959, allowed the replacement of steam banking engines with electric traction.
The driver of the UP Singleton Passenger watches, a local coal train pass, as he prepareas to stop at East Maitland station on an autumn morning in the late 1950's.
A local coal train on it's way to Port Waratah and the UP singleton passenger race each other, one morning in 1959, on the parrallel quad tracks between Maitland and High Street stations. To cater for the large amount of coal traffic between the Hunter Valleyand the Port of Newcastle, in particular coal sourced off the South Maitlands Railway, a the tracks between Scholey Junction (near Waratah) and East Greta Sidings (near Maitland) were duplicated and dedicated to coal traffic.
3801 prepares to leave Newcastle Station with the midday Newcastle Flyer. Up to three express services were run daily between Newcastle and Sydney.
A BHP Centre Cab Shunter moves into Morandoo Sidings in preparation to move another load of coal into the Steelworks (in background) for conversion to coke.
Coal was exported through the main coal loaders at Port Waratah. The sidings here were always a hive of activity.
A 50 Class locmotive prepares to head back to Newcastle with another load of coal from the South Maitland Coalfields. East Greta Sidings were the main exchange sidings between the NSWGR and the SMR.
The Hetton Bellbird Sidings were located just north of Hexham and were used to tranship coal between some of the collieries and the main Port.
A 50 Class locmotive prepares to head a load of coal back to Port Waratah from the Hexham exchange sidings with the Richmond Vale Railway (RVR) of J and A Brown. In the background can be seen J and A Brown's Hunter River coal loading point and workshops. To reach the workshops the RVR had to cross the NSWGR railway at right angles on the level. The NSWGR mainline is in the mid foreground.
Being so close to the Hunter River, floods could cause havoc for railway operations. A number of floods over the years have cut the railway lines in different places. In the 1955 floods coal traffic was moved over the RVR as the NSWGR was cut at Maitland and South Maitland coal could not reach the Port otherwise. On this night the crew of the 50 Class at Hexham exchange sidings are no doubt wishing that they were home in bed rather then on duty.
The Singleton to Newcastle passenger is running late as it nears Victoria St station just south of Maitland. The Maitland Goal can be seen perched on the hill in the background.
The Brisbane Express prepares to leave Maitland Station after a brief stop. In the late 50s and early 60s this train was a regular roster for the 42 Class.
The Newcastle Flyer headed by 3801 stretches it's legs crossing the Cockle Creek bridge. This is the one of the fastest sections of track on the "Short North" (70 Mph).
3112 heads a rake of FO surburban carriages around the shores of Fennells Bay on the picturesque Toronto Branch.
The crew of the 50 Class take on water and coal at the Port Waratah loco before taking out another coal service.
Bank engine 5270 has been added to the train at Hawkesbury River. 5270 and 6017 work hard to climb the Cowan bank above the Hawkesbury River. (7 miles of 1 in 40).
The bank engine has been removed at Cowan and 6017 travels through Berowra on the undulating section of track to Hornsby.
5133 crosses the causeway at Gosford with a ballast train. The fettlers are reballasting the track between Wondabyne and Hawkesbury River, which is one of the most inaccessable sections of the line.