Ardglen Bankers 1997-98

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Separating the wheat belt and a couple of coal mines from the Hunter Valley and the port of Newcastle is the Liverpool Range between the towns of Willow Tree at the north, through the summit at the Ardglen tunnel down to Murrurundi.

Between Willow Tree and Ardglen, all trains are normally banked at the rear by (at this time) three 2000hp Alco 80 class locos, which are based at Werris Creek depot.

Keith Archibald and I witnessed one of the great displays of railroading as seen below in the bottom 4 shots. We were following a train headed by triple 48s and approaching the Ardglen tunnel. Having never been there before and hearing about 'bankers' on the scanner, we awaited the train as the light faded. The train arrived, but alas no bankers. We thought we might as well cross over the hill to the other side as there might be enough light there for another shot.

On the other side of the short tunnel at Ardglen we were somewhat elated at our decision - our triple 48 train was crossing a quad 48 grain train - with three 80s at the rear!

The train made a spectacular sight moving off as can be seen. It is not common for the bankers to stay on through to Murrurundi - normally the knuckle coupler on the lead 80 is secured in the 'open' position and the 80s just slow down at Ardglen and let the train coast through the tunnel and down the other side. In this case the bankers stayed on all the way down the other side. To top off a perfect evening, just south of Murrurundi, the quad passed the train hauled by five 48s shown on the 'grain' page.

How often does one see 15 Alco locos in action in a 10 minute stretch anywhere in the world these days!

All images are scanned from Fujichrome 100 slides. All photos by Darryl K Bond. Feel free to use provided you credit the photographer, provide a link to here and let me know!

Click on the thumbnail for the full size image. All are approx 100-150kb jpeg files.