Posts Tagged ‘line’

History of the Bowen – Collinsville Railway

Monday, April 19th, 2010

(By Miss Norma Moller)

(Prepared by Norma Moller for the Bowen Historical Society)

In 1866, Richard Daintree, geologist, inspected what came to be known as the Bowen River Coalfield. He wrote on 10th February that year to a friend who at that time was very interested in the geology of the Hunter River Coalfield, that fossil ferns he had found overlying the Bowen River field indicated that they were from the Paleozoic Age, making them similar to those of the Hunter River area.

Daintree’s report, which was dated 24th March, 1866, stated that he had seen sufficient evidence to satisfy himself that the Bowen River Coalfield is of great extent and contains numerous seams of coal whose numbers, thickness and economical value might readily be ascertained by some extended research”.

Later that same year, Daintree was appointed Government Geologist for North Queensland. In 1870, he inspected the Bowen River Coalfield very thoroughly and in 1872, he issued the first map of it. At the same time he published descriptions of coal-bearing sections along Pelican Creek and the Bowen River. Later, he published a book showing a wood engraving of a Queensland, Australia coal seam cropping out at the base of a sandstone cliff on Pelican Creek, a tributary fo the Bowen River, and this is almost certainly the first picture of the Collinsville Coalfield.

Subscription List

In 1875, the Bowen Provincial Association opened a subscription list for contributions towards the expenses of obtaining coal samples and forwarding them to England for analysis. It was hoped that successful testing there would lead to the establishment of a Coal and Railway company to secure a concession from the Queensland government and proved railway communication with the port to develop the coalfield of Bowen. There seems to have been some response almost immediately for in Parliament in 1877, a special vote was made to enable an examination of the Bowen to Bowen River area with a view to building a railway. It was found that there was two ranges to cross and, as no precise terminus was indicated by the people of Bowen calling for the railway, it was decided to make towards Bowen Downs.

Railway Survey

The Minister of Railways said in Parliament that his Commissioner had reported that he feature the mineral resources of the district anywhere within reasonable distance of the route would not warrant any costly departure. In 1878, the survey began. It was completed to 55 miles. It was discovered that there was plenty of ballast available but no bridge timber. The line was to commence near the Bowen jetty and avoid town property as much as possible. Bridges would be necessary at the Don River, Euri Creek, Bogie River and the Bowen River. The Leichhardt Range would be quite an obstacle. The surveyor suggested that the tableland could best be reached by following the Burdekin River which burst through the Leichhardt Range by an until-that-time unexplored but enormous ravine where the river descends by a series of rapids. By 30th July, 1879, plans as a result of the trial survey, Bowen to Leichhardt Range, as it was then referred to, were forwarded to the Minister for Railways.

In 1884, an exploration survey from Bowen to the coalfield at the foot of the Leichhardt Range reported that several good range crossings would be needed. It further reported that the line to the coalfield would be about 60 miles long and that parliamentary plans were being prepared for the building of the proposed railway. Mr. Ellis W. Lymburner explored the line proposed to the bowen coalfield and after finding gaps in the Leichhardt Range, proceeded to make a 40 mile trial survey. Later, in 1885 the trial survey from the 40 mile point to the 53½ point was completed and at the 53½ mile point a nine mile branch line was surveyed to the coal borings then being made at Pelican Creek.

You will notice that these far-sighted man were still intending to build their railway to Bowen Downs with only a branch line to the coal areas near the Leichhardt Range. In 1886, the Railway Department ordered from overseas 60 miles of 41¼ pound rail, so the railway was progressing quite satisfactorily. However, although Mr. Miles whom, I presume, was a spokesman for the Railway Department, had reported that borings on the Bowen coalfield had shown a six-foot seam at a depth of 71 feet, and only a wait for the result of further test bores was holding up the building of the railway, the following year the money voted for the building of the railway was diverted by the Railway Department to the Bowen to Townsville line instead. Mr. Dickson reported this fact when questioned in the Legislative Assembly on 8th November, 1887.

Nowe, in the official history of the line, nothing more is mentioned about this railway until 1922, but let us look back to the activity in the Bowen Coalfield area. In 1875 the Bowen Provincial Association opened a subscription list to raise money to pay the expenses of obtaining coal samples from the Bowen River and forwarding them to England for analysis. Later, in the same year, the Bowen River Coalfield Association was formed to investigate the field between Havilah Station and Jack’s Creek. It was hoped to form a company, the Coal and Railway Company, in England following successful testing of the samples. At the same time, samples were forwarded to Rockhampton for testing at the gas works and eighteen bags of Bowen River coal were sent to Sydney for testing there.

Jack Impressed

At the end of 1873, Robert Jack, the Government Geologist made a new report on the Bowen River Coalfield. He pointed out that the field extended from the heads of the Dawson River to the latitude of Bowen and that the formation approached the coast at the Northern end, which happend to lie conveniently near the township of Bowen and the harbour of Port Denison, and so presented itself as the place where the question of the usefulness of the store of “fossil” fuel should first be put to the test. Robert Jack was very impressed with the potential of the field and compared it to the New South Wales coal measures. Then, in 1885, the Government bores revealed the intrusion of igneous sills.

Money Diverted

A bore had been sunk by the Government at a site near Pelican Creek some 4½ miles north-easterly of Birralee Station. The Garrick seam was mat at 71 to 76 feet and two lower seams were penetrated before boring ceased in igneous rock at 390 feet. All were intruded with igneous sills. The drill then moved to a site near Havilah Station and in 1886 a bore was put down in the Upper Coal Measure. These were found to be intensely intruded with igneous sills, so the bore was completed to 340 feet. This boring was done by Mr. S. L. Hester and his gang. Hester spent almost a year on his drilling programme and was then withdrawn to Ipswich. So borings for coal at the Bowen River Coalfield were abandoned in 1886 without a definite conclusion as to the quality of the coal. Hence, money was diverted from the Bowen-Collinsville line to the Bowen-Townsville railway line.

Private Testing

Because of the disappointing results of these investigations, Government interest in the coalfield waned until 1912 when Mr. R. Dunstan, Government Geologist examined portion of the field following a request for government assistance to sink deep bores. He formed the opinion that the best way of opening the field was by private company and he recommended a subsidy for prospecting the Gerrick Seam on the banks of Pelican Creek. the Bowen River Coal Prospecting Syndicate was formed and held its first share-holders’ meeting in Bowen on 1st February, 1913. Its directors were P. E. Hodge, C. J. Marshall, J. Dinsdale, W. H. Flamstead and P. Walsh, with J. Pares as secretary. A subsidy of £300 was later paid on a pound for pound basis. Although companies were formed, samples of coal displayed and tested in both Australia and overseas, tests made at Merinda Meatworks, Pioneer Sugar Mill at Ayr, Bowen-Proserpine Tramway and a great excitement prevailed following success of these tests, there was no success in their agitation for a railway. All these samples were sent to Bowen by teams. In July, 1913, Mr. Guild, the carrier, brought 3 tons to Bowen, Mr. Lync, 7 tons; and Mr. Callaghan, 4 tons. Nine tons of this were delivered to the Merinda Meatworks, 5 tons to the Bowen-Proserpine Tramway.

Railway Need

Great excitement prevailed in the towen of Bowen. A deputation was received by Mr. W. H. Barnes, the State Treasurer, while visiting Bowen, from the Progressive League concerning the opening of a railway to the field.

For almost eighteen months little was done or reported and many people, especially business people of Bowen were worried that the earlier glowing reports of the new coalfield would wither for lack of government financial help vital to a new industry. Perhaps, too, the outbreak of the Great World War drew men’s minds to more important matters.

However, in December, 1915, Colonel Evans, Commissioner for Railways recommended to the government that a new railway be built between the Bowen River Coalfield and the port of Bowen. The Great Northern Railway at this time was using 35,200 tons of coal annually. Coal for the sugar mills, gas works, meatworks, and mines had to be imported at high cost. It was hoped that the new field at the Bowen River would not only be able to supply much cheaper coal for Northern use but would find a market for bunkers and export.

Hope Rises

In 1916, in February, Surveyor Kellar and his staff carried out yet another survey of the route and another wave of hope swept through the district, in April the Minister for Railways visited Bowen and was the recipient of many deputations for the commencement of the railway from Merinda to the coalfield.

A month later, on a visit to Bowen, the acting Premier, Mr. E. G. Theodore, accompnaied by Messrs. McCormack, Ryan, Collins, and Dr. Gibson promised a very early appropriation of the railway if at all possible. {mospagebreak}

The Line Is Built

In the same month, a parcel of 10 tons of coal was tested on the railway between Roma Street and Toowoomba with first rate results. The Queensland budget in July, 1916, included provision of funds for the construction of the railway line.

The first day of August, 1916, heralded the end of 44 years of talking, waiting and planning for the new line. Mr. Sterling, the engineer in charge, arrived in Bowen and the first labour was recruited. Some of the first appointments went to Bert Meyes as timber inspector and also in charge of bridge building and to Earnie Jewell as time keeper. The camp was setup at Euri Creek and the first sawmill was built opposite Arthur Gordon’s property at the 8-mile. Watty Callaghan became the first timber contractor, carting as well as cutting. Bill Gralton and Jack Quinn were the contractors who cut for him. Among others who cut and laid sleepers for the line as far as Binbee were Jim Ellis, Peter Fogarty, Arthur Kershaw and Arthur Burbridge. The job was not lucrative, the cost per sleeper was 4s, 3d., of which 2s, 3d. went to the carter and 2s. to the cutter. On 26th March, 1917, the Minister for Railways, the Hon. J. H. Coyne, turned the first sod of the railway at Merinda in the presence of a large crowd of Bowen residents.

Birth of Bowen Consolidated

Within a few weeks the private companies who had done such valuable early work, namely, the Brisbane-Bowen Coal Company Limited, the Towers-Bowen Coal Company Limited, the Bowen Coal and Coke Company Limited, and the Bowen Coalfield Syndicate, decided on amalgamation. The new company was called the Bowen Consolidated Coal Mines Limited with a nominal capital of 125,000 one-pound shares, including 25,000 fully paid up shares diveded between the former companies and 50,000 being offered for public subscription was formed. By 1917, a total of 30 bores had been sunk for the government boring teams. It was estimated that reserves in the Bowen area with a minumum thickness of of 13 feet were 30 million tons of available coal. The site for the State Coal Mines was selected in 1918 about one mile beyond the terminus of the surveyed railway. Abnormal rains delyed the start, but in March 1919 actual operations began. Work was directed to prived an output as soon as the railway was completed which by the end of 1919 had been constructed for a distance of 20 miles from Merinda as far as Euri Creek. Work had been delayed by a shortage of cement and a shipping strike. The line progressed but difficulties were encountered in the building of a bridge over Euri Creek and this was not completed until much later and Euri Creek was the end of the line for some time.

Jaraga Pub

The saw mill was shifted to the 14 Mile Creek and the siding of 19 Mile (Jaraga) was a large camp which has remained a siding on the line. Mrs. Martin Terney, whose husband was the licensee of the Merinda Hotel setup up a pub two miles below Jaragawhich naturally became the centre of leisure hours activity for the gangs and the contractors.

As the line approached Binbee, Albert Anderson became the timber contractor and had Bill Gralton and Jack Quinn cutting for him. Later the roles were reversed when Quinn took over mill was shifted to the 25 Mile and a large permanent camp was established at the foot of the range. Here there was a school run by Miss Grieves, and a church service was held every Sunday in the school building. Jack and Tom Thorne had a slaughter yard on the top of the range and supplied the camp with fresh meat. Mrs. Doherty had the ranch and there was a government store, a baker’s shop and a butcher’s shop managed first byMr. Condon and later by Mr. Tom Walsh. Soon afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Andy Dunlop moved there from their pub in Mareeba and started a general store with a billiard room and room for boarders.

A man of many talents was Mr. Jack Carmody, who, as well as being time keeper was excellent at billiards and used to disappear after church every Sunday to the two-up school down the creek. {mospagebreak}

Football On The Line

The days of the horse teams were nearing their end, and this was the last job for many of the carters, who included some of the best known names of the Northern bush. When the railway had reached the 25 Mile, the stockpile of coal at the state mine was about 3,000 tons.

Again the camp moved along the line, this time stopping at the 38 Mile, Little Blue Rock, and here the first football match was held between the men on the gangs, bridge teams, carters, and miners. The referee, Mr. Curley Pye (a Bowen man doing plumbing work at the State Mine) used a small horse bell because there was no whistle. Another large camp was then established at the 42 Mile which was the end of the line for some time.

Difficult Terrain

The building of the railway was a long and difficult job because of the terrain. The forty-eight miles were a succession of creeks and ridges and gullies and of course, the range. The bridges were long jobs. All the timber form them was cut by broad-axe, under the inspection of Bert Mayes. The range and smaller hills had to be cut through by blasting, with the debris then to be shovelled into horse drawn drays and carted away to be used as filling.

Tall Policeman

The policeman who moved with the gangs all the way along the line was Mr. Andy Cummings. He was the the tallest main in the history of the Queensland Police Force standing 6ft. 7in. in his socks. He was a popular man even though he had to keep law and order among a group of men in a difficult environment. When he got on a troop horse his feet would be almost on the ground. The men arrested by him along the line were mostly charged with being drunk and disorderly, or creating a disturbance. If they decided to appear after being released on bail they would be required to appear at Bowen, as the Court of Petty Sessions was there. However, they usually forfeited their bail. It would have been too much for the Police Magistrate to have had to come up from Bowen. {mospagebreak}

The Trains Run

On the 4th September, 1922, the headlines of “North Queensland Register” ran: Bowen Coalfields Railway. The first through coal train – probably Monday next. Under this article it announced that the General Manager of the Northern Division Railways (Mr. A. J. Crowther) had returned to Bowen after a visit to the Bowen Coalfields, the object of his visit being to ascertain whether it would be possible to extend the line past the town itself and on to the mine. The rails at this stage were well past Collinsville and it was anticipated that the end of the week would see the rails to the mine, and the siding necessary for the loading of coal completed. The people of the town had requested that the station buildings be erected in the town so that goods which were carried to a point South of the town could be brought in. This request was met although it was estimated that it would be Christmas before the line buildings and sidings were completed. Mr. Crowther announced that with the consent of the Construction Engineer and the Government, the trains would begin running on the 31st August and a train would run to and from the field every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Mr. Crowther also annoucned that Mr. Conway, the Manager of the State Coal Mine had informed him that all the coal at the dump had been disposed of, and freshly mined coal would be available for the first train. Here the article in the Townsville paper concluded.

Significance Realised

Soon afterwards, the Brisbane paper, the “Daily Mail” printed an article about the newly opened railway along the following lins: “The significance of the opening of the railway line to Collinsville is not apparent to the casual Northerner, yet to them it means the conveying to their doors of a national industry, which promised development unparallelled in the State, and of favourable comparison with any industrial venture in the Commonwealth”. There folloed a brief recitation of facts about the discovery of the mines and the results of boring and fuel test, all of which have been mentioned.

Station Built

During October an article appeared in the “North Queensland Register” about Collinsville with a small paragraph about the line, “Morley Grey’s lifting gang of twenty men are putting the finishing touches to the line by ballasting and are getting on a pace, so should be to the terminal within a few weeks”. They also mentioned that the station buildings were almost completed. On 1st August, 1922, the railway was officially opened where it had ended at the siding of Briaba, and by the beginning of 1923 had reached the town and the State mine, the railway store at Briaba had closed down, the gangs had gone, cattle trucking yards had been built near Collinsville, and rail traffic travelled to and from the field daily. After six and a half years of back-breaking work, the mining township was linked by rail with Bowen. {mospagebreak}

Paid Its Way

In 1922, the Railway Department reported that with the opening of the railway to Collinsville all Northern Division coal had been obtained there thus making a saving to the Railway Department of more than was being paid in interest on the money borrowed for the construction of the railway. It also reported that the meatworks, sugar mills, harbour boards, and private consumers had benefitted. Output of the State Coal Mine had risen from 60 tons a day in September, 1922, to 400 tons a day in August, 1923.

And so, six words record the result of fifty-six years of ceaseless efforts by ordinary citizens who struggled to get this railway built, for in the official railway documents can be read: 1922, Merinda – State Coal Mine, 48.6 miles, opened 1st August.

Before concluding, let us look at the history of the line since then.

In 1943 the line was strengthened to take heavier locomotives. In 1954-55 £4,379 was spent on improvements on the Collinsville line.

It was reported in railway records in 1962, that despite fall-off in traffic due to closure of the State Coal Mine at Collinsville, often four trains a day left Collinsville, all steam hauled, the coal coming from Scottville. Regular banking was practised to Briaba, which has an altitude of 1,000 feet.

In 1963 the line was strengthened so that diesels could be used. The first diesel-electric hauled 1,240 tons of coal from Collinsville on 25th November.

Soon Mt. Isa was using 4000 tons of coal a week, T.R.E.B. 3,000 tons, the Queensland Government Railway’s 2-3,000 tons and almost another 2,000 tons each week were being used by other North Queensland industries.

The line was relaid in 1963. The terminus of the railway branch line was at first called Moongunya by order of the Governor in Council on 5th August, 1921. This name was changed to Collinsville in September of the same year, to be called after Mr. Charles Collins, the Member of Parliament for Bowen at that time. “Moongunya” means coal to the Aborigines.

English Electric 1200 Class

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The 1200 class was introduced in 1953. They were built at the Vulcan Foundry in the UK by English Electric and then imported to Australia. They were the only full width body loco used in Queensland.

The class were allocated to Mayne in Brisbane, and were worked from this yard their entire career. They were found hauling the ‘Sunlander’ and the ‘Sunshine Express’ trains between Brisbane and Cairns, but could also be found on the ‘Westlander’ between Brisbane and Roma.

A characteristic addition to the 1200 and 1250 class locomotives was a sun visor to help reduce glare 8 years after their construction in 1961.

By 1976, the last 1200 class turned a wheel in service.

1200 has been preserved in non-working order by the Australian Railway Historical Society Qld Division, and is currently stored at Redbank Workshops out in the open. It is thought this locomotive will require a replacement engine to be able to turn a wheel again.

1225 Notes

In 1984, 1208 was rebuilt into 1225. The rebuild used parts from 1252 and 1253, while the body was change to resemble a 1250 class loco. It earned the nickname ‘Hybrid’ after this work. 1225 remained in service until 1987, working mainly on the Wallangarra line. The loco is now privately owned, and is currently under active restoration by the Queensland Diesel Group. It will be moved to Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway at Swanbank for these works in mid-2010.

Direct Traffic Control – An Overview

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Direct Traffic Control (DTC) is, put simply, a computerised version of Train Order Working. Station Yard layouts differ to those in Train Order territory and DTC is a much safer and more flexible system.


In Remote Controlled Signalling (RCS) territory, a standard is applied to the way signals are identified. Below is a drawing of a typical RCS crossing loop showing how each signal is identified.

Each signal number is prefixed with a mnemonic to identify the station location. For example, if the above map represented “Flinders”, then the mnemonic would be ‘FS’. Therefore, the Up Home signal at Flinders would be ‘FS14’. In most cases, points are motorised and are operated from the Control Centre.

DTC has been described by many as the “poor man’s RCS”. This is because a station yard layout in DTC territory is almost identical to RCS except “Block Limit” boards (left) are used where colour light signals would normaly be location (see below). These “Block Limit” boards have a signal ID plate on them, just like a colour light signal does in RCS territory. Standard QR “Beacons” (right) are used in place of Approach signals. These do not have an ID plate. In many cases, Trailable Facing Points are used, set for directional running. This way, two trains can cross without crew members having to manually operate the points.

How it works

The basis of DTC is similar to Train Order. The Train Controller issues the driver of each train a computer generated DTC Block Authority to proceed to a particular Block Limit board. This is done by means of computers and a series of numeric codes transmitted by two-way radio.

The Train controller has a workstation that is very similar to a UTC workstation used in RCS territory. Just like UTC, the DTC workstation has a schematic diagram of the track in that Controllers territory.

The driver of each train that enters DTC territory is issued a laptop computer. Locomotive cabs have been fitted with special “soft” cradles and plug in power supplies for the laptops. These laptops are pre-programmed with information that a driver may select from e.g. line section (see below).

Starting up

Before a train can enter DTC territory, the driver must perform computer start up procedures whilst the Train Controller “Builds” the train into the DTC system. The following procedures are carried out:-

Train Driver

  • Mount laptop in cradle and connect power supply lead
  • Boot up Computer
  • Set time and date
  • Select section of line to be traversed (eg. Charters Towers to Stuart)
  • Enter train details
    • Train Number (eg. 6239)
    • Lead locomotive number (eg. 2810)
    • Location (eg. Charters Towers)
    • Block limit board train is facing (eg. CT21)
  • Start up details will be displayed on screen
  • If details are correct, hit “Enter”
    – system will generate two “Start-up” codes
  • Transmit codes to Train Controller

Train Controller

  • Select “Start up code” button from menu
    – Start up code screen appears on workstation
  • Enter codes into system
    – a screen will appear requesting train length
  • Confirm train length with driver
  • Enter length into system
    – system will generate a “Display” code
  • Transmit display code to driver

Train Driver

  • Enter display code into laptop
    – This will generate a DTC authority showing the current location of the train
  • Read authority back to Controller
  • “Driver of 6239 – 2810, starting in Charters Towers yard. Must not pass Block Limit Board CT21”

(This dialogue is actually shown on the drivers laptop screen).

Train Controller

  • Check details and click “Accept” or “Reject”, as the case may be
  • If accepted, confirm with driver
    – Train 6239 will appear on the Train Controllers DTC workstation at Block Limit Board CT21
  • If rejected, repeat process.

Although this seems like a lengthy and complicated procedure, it only takes a few minutes and only needs to be done at the beginning of the trip.

Issuing DTC Block Authorities

Once the ‘Start Up’ procedure has been completed and the train is ready to depart, the Train Controller can issue the driver with the first authority to proceed. The basic operation of the Controller’s workstation is very similar to the UTC system. To set a path for a train in both systems, the Train Controller clicks his mouse on the train icon then clicks on the track block at the termination of the route.


This action drives all motorised points to the desired position then clears all signals between the train and the route termination. The route and all applicable signal icons will turn green when complete. This is the end of the process.


When the route is selected, it turns flashing green and a ‘command’ code is generated. The following procedure is carried out.:-

Train Controller

  • Contact Train Driver and tell him to be ready to receive an authority.

Train Driver

  • Select ‘New Block Authority’ from menu on laptop.
    – The ‘Command code’ screen will appear.
  • Inform Train Controller that he is ready to receive the authority.

Train Controller

  • Transmit the ‘command’ code to the driver.
  • Click ‘accept’ on the workstation.
    – The ‘drivers code’ screen will appear on the workstation.

Train Driver

  • Repeat ‘command’ code to Train Controller whilst entering it into the laptop.
    – This will generate a ‘Drivers’ code
  • Transmit the ‘Drivers’ code to the Train Controller.
  • Press ‘Enter’ on the laptop keyboard.
    – The ‘Control code’ screen will appear.

Train Controller

  • Repeat ‘Drivers’ code to Train Driver whilst entering into workstation.
    – This will generate a ‘Control’ code.
  • Transmit the ‘Control’ code to the driver.
  • Click ‘accept’ on the workstation.
    – A dialogue detailing the limits of the authority will appear on the workstation.

Train Driver

  • Repeat ‘Control’ code to Train Controller whilst entering it into the laptop.
    – A dialogue identical to the one on the Train Controller’™s workstation should appear.
  • Read the dialogue to the Train Controller.
  • Press ‘Enter’ on the laptop keyboard to confirm.

Train Controller

  • If dialogue is correct, click ‘Accept’ and inform Train Driver he may depart.
    – The route display on the workstation will show the train icon occupying ALL blocks for which the authority is current. This includes ‘Head of train’ and ‘Tail of train’ icons.
  • If dialogue is NOT correct, repeat procedure.

To put this procedure into words makes it sounds very complicated and longwinded. In practice, a Block Authority can be completed in 30 to 45 seconds. A Train Order, on the other hand, can take up to 8 minutes even if a CATOS terminal is used. Here is an example of a two-way radio dialogue between a Train Controller and a Train Driver when receiving a Block Authority. Keep in mind, a ‘Start up’ procedure has already taken place:-

TC ‘West Control, Townsville to the Driver of 6239, over’
DR ‘Driver 6239 receiving, over’
TC ‘6239 are you ready to receive your authority to proceed?, over’
DR ‘Control, 6239 is ready, over’
TC ‘Driver 6239, your command code is 301-683-796, over’
DR ‘Command code 301-683-796’¦.. Drivers code is 475-294-094, over’
TC ‘Drivers code 475-294-094’¦.. control code is 898-147-357, over’
DR ‘Control code 898-147-357’¦.. Authority reads ‘˜Driver on Train 6239 locomotive 2810, proceed into Stuart, obey signal ST49 at Stuart’™, over’
TC ‘Driver 6239, Block Authority is correct, you may proceed, out’
DR ‘Acknowledged, Control, Driver 6239 out’.

Releasing Blocks back to Train Controller

After a train has traversed one or more block sections, he may release blocks behind him at his own discretion or as instructed by the Train Controller. The following procedure takes place

Train Driver

* Ensure blocks to be released are clear and no part of his train is occupying any of them.
* Press ‘R’ on the laptop and use the arrow keys to select the blocks to be released.
* Press ‘Enter’
– This will generate a ‘Release’ code and a dialogue.
* Transmit the code to the Train Controller.

Train Controller

* Click on ‘Tail of train’ icon on the workstation.
– The ‘Block Release’ screen will appear.
* Enter the ‘Release’ code given by the Train Driver.
– A dialogue detailing the block(s) to be released will appear on the workstation.
* Read the dialogue to the Train Driver.

Train Driver

* Confirm message is correct.
* Press ‘R’ to release blocks.

Train Controller

* Receive confirmation from Train Driver.
* Click ‘Accept’ on workstation.
– Route diagram will update ‘Tail of train’ icon to current location.

System Capabilities

The DTC system is capable of issuing a Block Authority from one end of a line section to the other. Each ‘line’ (e.g. Stuart – Mount Isa) is broken up into ‘line sections’ (e.g. Stuart, Charters Towers, Charters Twrs, Hughenden etc).

Stations at the border of line sections are manned for all train movements and have locally operated signalling systems (note, if the signals are colour light, they do not come under RCS rules). Once a train has arrived intact inside the ‘Home’ signal, the Block Authority can be relinquished and the train is under the control of the Station Master.

A Train Controller will generally give a train authority to proceed to either of three points:-

1. To the first station where shunting or other duties are to be carried out, or
2. To the first station where that train will cross an opposing train or allow a following one past, or
3. To the end of the line section, if traffic permits.


If a train is required to shunt at a station, that train must arrive intact at that station, release his DTC authority and be issued a ‘Shunt station’ Authority. This will block all lines at that station and prevent other trains from passing through. The train bearing the ‘shunt station’ authority is permitted to use any track at that station and may proceed into the block section, for shunting purposes only, as far as the ‘Limit of Shunt’ board (See map above). Once the shunting is complete, the ‘Shunt station’ authority is relinquished and a Block Authority issued to continue its journey. If, for some reason, the train is to depart a different line to that where it arrived, the Train Controller must be informed so he can update the DTC system and give departure from the correct Block Limit Board.

Crossing (Refer map on Page 1)

Imagine the above map is Reid River (RR) and two opposing trains are required to cross here. The Up train will be given an authority as far as Block Limit Board RR16, the Down train to RR23. Let’s say the Up train is first to arrive and stops at RR16. The driver performs a brake leakage test to confirm his train is complete. He then releases the block)s) behind him to Control. The Controller may then update the Down trains’ authority to continue past RR23 and into the next section. When the Down train arrives, the driver of the Up train will observe the ‘Rear of Train signal’ is in place on the Down train and radio that driver to inform him of the fact. The Down train releases the block(s) behind him and continues his journey. The controller can then issue the Up train with an authority to resume his trip.

Positive aspects of DTC

For the most part, no electric signalling equipment is required, only signage, manually operated points and a reliable two-way radio system. Laptop computers are used on locomotives so it is not necessary to fit every locomotive with a computer. Only purpose designed ‘soft’ cradles and external power sources.

Logic would dictate that this should be the first point mentioned but corporations the world over these days tend to opt for economy over safety. However, DTC achieves both. Rules are in place to cater for all types of situations including computer and/or radio failure. The Train Controller has access to safety controls never before seen in ‘dark territory’ operation. For the first time, it is possible to ‘block’ a track to allow maintenance staff to work safely on track. This facility prevents the Train Controller from issuing authorities over the closed section of track. Not even the older CATOS system has this capability.

As mentioned, a DTC Block Authority can be issued in 30 to 45 seconds whereas a Train Order takes from 3 to 8 minutes. DTC specific radio operations are conducted on a separate channel to the normal main line radio channel. This is a ‘party’ channel where a driver can listen in and obtain details and whereabouts of other trains in the area. Therefore it is no longer necessary for the Train Controller to issue each train with a ‘Train Working Advice’, a cumbersome task in itself.

User friendly:
For the Train Driver and the Train Controller. Easy to understand screen layouts are employed and ALL dialogue is generated by the computer system. You don’t even have to think about what to say!! Commands are kept simple and everything is in plain English. Even the most jaded drivers can use this system.

Rail fans:
Well? Not necessarily a positive point to QR but rail fans love DTC. If you have a radio scanner tuned in to the DTC specific channel (the freq escapes me), you know EXACTLY where trains are at all times. Rail photographers need never endure poor quality pictures because the camera equipment was set up in a hurry. With DTC, you can anticipate the arrival of a train and have your equipment set up in good time ready for that perfect shot!

Negative aspects of DTC

Radio failure:
DTC relies heavily on the usage of Two-way radios. Therefore it is imperative that the best possible, most reliable radio system available is used. Despite this, it is still more economical than RCS.

Traffic density:
No ‘dark territory’ safeworking system was ever designed for use in high density traffic areas. DTC is no different although it is possible to run more traffic in DTC territory than any other ‘Dark’ territory.

Human Error:
The biggest enemy of any ‘dark territory’ train operations. The Train Controller has no choice but to take the drivers’ word that he is in fact clear of sections he is releasing back to Control. This is no different to Train Order territory so operations depend on the strict discipline and training of the train crews. Fortunately to date, this has never been an issue.

C15 – Originally Large Consolation Class

Sunday, April 18th, 2010
Total Number of Engines Built 2
First Engine Built 1879
Last Engine Built 1880
First Engine Written Off 1916
Last Engine Written Off 1926


These engines were referred to as Large Consolations before the introduction of the new classification system.

They were the first eight coupled engines to run in Queensland and were also the first to have a bogie tenders. An early problem experienced with them was that they were too long for existing turntables and could only be turned on fork lines. They were built by Baldwin and were typical of that company’s products of the time with a large oil headlight, pepper pot steam dome and sandbox and also a wooden cab with glazed windows.

N° 41 was put to good use on the Main Range where it could haul 120 tons compared with 75 tons for the E (B12) Class although it had originally been purchased with the intention of being used on the line beyond Chinchilla. It was shipped to Townsville in June 1881 and was later returned to Ipswich in 1890.

N°42 was imported by the contractors working on the Stanthorpe Extension and named “Queenslander”. It was later bought by the railway after the new line opened in May 1881.

The engines had their original wagon top boilers replaced with round top ones in 1900. Apparently engine loads were not increased even though the new boilers had an increased pressure of 140 psi.

Both finished their days working in the Rockhampton District.

In 1889 locomotives and rollingstock were consolidated into one rollingstock register. This resulted in most items, except those operating on the original Southern and Western Railway (from Ipswich), being renumbered. Numbers shown are state (or former S & W) numbers. Those in brackets are former numbers of individual railways.


S&W – Southern & Western Railway based on Ipswich
GNR – Great Northern Railway based on Townsville
Baldwin – Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia USA

Beyer-Garratt Class

Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Total Number of Engines Built 30
First Engine Built 1950
Last Engine Built 1950
First Engine Written Off 1968
Last Engine Written Off 1969
Number of Engines in Class on the Books as at:
31/12/50 31/12/60 31/12/66 31/12/67 3/12/68 31/12/69
30 30 30 8
Number of Engines in Class in Service as at:
31/12/67 31/12/68 7/10/69
2 1


The initial plan had been to use these engines on the proposed air-conditioned Mail Trains that were being designed at the time. This never eventuated, although they did regularly haul the “Midlander”, mainly between Emerald and Bogantungan for some years. They were used on the Rockhampton Mail and Sunshine Express in the early 1950s.

The first ten engines were constructed at Beyer Peacock & Co Limited Works in Manchester UK. Owing to the number of orders they had on hand, Beyer Peacock (BP) contracted Societe Franco Belge de Materiel du Chemins de fer, Raismes, France (FRB)to build the remaining twenty.

They were painted Midland red and had chrome yellow lining with large QR monograms on the sides of the front tank and bunker. Unfortunately this attractive livery easily discoloured particularly as a result of priming. The engines were not regularly cleaned when relegated to goods train working in latter years and their appearance rapidly deteriorated.

Originally trialled on the Brisbane – Toowoomba route, they were soon withdrawn from this section due to problems with limited clearances in the tunnels. They were used extensively on North Coast Line between Brisbane and Rockhampton. By 1956, this working had become restricted to mainly north of Bundaberg. They did not work north of St Lawrence on the NCL. On the Central Line they initially ran between Rockhampton and Emerald but from 1957 this was extended to Bogantungan.

A few were attached to Mayne until 1955 and some at North Bundaberg until 1956, when all were allocated to Rockhampton. In later years they worked Moura coal trains via Mount Morgan, prior to the opening of the ‘short line’ to Gladstone. One of their last regular tasks was on limestone trains between Tarcoola and Gladstone. Increasing numbers of diesels saw mass withdrawals of these engines. Twenty two were written off in June 1968.

They were subject to much positive publicity when introduced but failed to live up to all expectations. They were attributed with saving 19,500 miles of assistant and goods engine running on the Bundaberg – Rockhampton – Emerald sections between October 1950 and June 1951. Steaming difficulties were encountered with South Queensland coals; however they performed well on Blair Athol coal. The boilers had a tendency to prime. Limited coal and water capacity caused worries. General overhauls cost about three times those for a B18¼.

They had a number of unique features (for QR steam engines) including Ajax air operated butterfly fire doors, Hadfield power reversers, speedometers and also flow meters; the latter being fitted to the class in 1955.The outer bogies and inner trucks had roller bearings but the coupled axles has plain bearings. Several engines received fabricated stove pipe chimneys to replace the original cast ones that had been damaged.

N°1009, preserved as a static exhibit, was taken into Ipswich Workshops in 1993 and restored to working order. Subsequently due to a leaking fused plug, it has been out of service for quite some time.

* Test weighing proved some engines to be 11 tons over this design weight with 11TAL

B17 Class

Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Total Number of Engines Built 21
First Engine Built 1911
Last Engine Built 1914
First Engine Written Off 1950
Last Engine Written Off 1960
Number of Engines in Class on the Books as at:
31/12/00 31/12/10 31/12/20 31/12/30 31/12/40 31/12/50 31/12/60
21 21 21 18


These were the largest non superheated six coupled engines to operate in the state. The class was introduced when it was proposed to increase the size of the Sydney Mail (via Wallangarra). They were originally used for this train and mail trains between Brisbane and Rockhampton. By 1930s, with the availability of superheated engines they were relegated to lesser duties. Four engines were attached to the Central Division during World War 2 and they worked as far north as Bowen. Upsurge of traffic during those hostilities caused them to again be pressed into heavy main line passenger work. In their final years they were restricted to slow goods and shunting trains. Like many saturated engines, they were heavy on coal and water. They were generally unpopular with crews particularly with poorer coals and heavy loads. Superheating was trialled on two engines, N°678 and N°610, in 1917 but proved unsuccessful, apparently due to problems lubricating the slide valves. Superheaters were removed when the engines were reboilered between 1929 and 1931. The class contained a number of unusual features. The safety valves were contained in a small dome mounted behind the large regulator dome. There was a large gap between the second and third sets of coupled wheels. One standard Sellers injector was fitted on the fireman’s side whilst the other was a Davies and Metcalfe combined injector and clack valve mounted on the boiler back plate. They were the first engines to be fitted with what became the standard QR whistle for the next 35 years. Scrapping of the class commenced in 1950 and the last two engines in service, N°689 and N°690, were written off in November 1960.

Clyde/GM 422 Class

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The 422 class, purchased by QR National/Interail from Northern Rivers Railroad, were originally built in 1969 for SRA (and then Freightcorp) by Clyde Engineering at Granville. The locos are of a full body dual cab design and have use the EMD16-645E power plant (which effectively makes them an updated version of the 421s). The 422s have operated across Australia after a number were purchased by Australian Southern Railroad (ASR) in the period 2000-2005. Refurbished and renumbered to the 22 class, most notably were 2201-2204 which were used on the construction of the Alice Springs to Darwin line. In 2006, QRNational owns 18 members of the class, including 42202 and 42206 (ex-Interail); along with the 16 members of the 22 class (some renumbered, some are not).

Directional Running of Trains in QLD

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Main lines

Main Line: UP to Toowoomba, DOWN to Roma Street.

Southern Line: UP to Wallangarra, DOWN to Toowoomba.

South Western Line: UP to Dirranbandi, DOWN to Warwick.

Western Line: UP to Cunnamulla, DOWN to Toowoomba.

Great Western Line: UP to Quilpie, DOWN to Westgate.

North Coast Line: UP to Roma Street, DOWN to Cairns.

Central Western Line: UP to Winton, DOWN to Rocklands

Moura line: UP to Gladstone, DOWN to Moura

Goonyella line: UP to North Goonyella, DOWN to Hay Point

Great Northern Railway:

Branch lines

Ebenezer branch: UP to Ebenezer, DOWN to Yarrowlea

Millmerran branch: UP to Millmerran, DOWN to Wyreema

Jandowae branch:

Glenmorgan branch:

Wandoan branch:

Kingaroy branch:

Monto branch:

Boundary Hill branch:

Biloela branch:

Callide branch:

Goovigen branch:

Theodore branch:

Brisbane Suburban Area:

Gold Coast Line (Beenleigh Line): UP to Robina, DOWN to Roma Street.

Cleveland Branch: UP to Cleveland (and Fisherman Islands), DOWN to Park Road.

Yeerongpilly-Corinda Branch: UP to Corinda, DOWN to Yeerongpilly.

Acacia Ridge Branch: UP to Acacia Ridge, DOWN towards (Salisbury Junction).

Main Line: UP to Rosewood, DOWN to Roma Street.

Box Flat branch: UP to Box Flat/Swanbank, DOWN to Bundamba

North Coast Line: DOWN to Caboolture, UP to Roma Street.

Exhibition Loop: UP to Roma Street, DOWN to Mayne Junction.

Ferny Grove Branch: DOWN to Ferny Grove, UP to Bowen Hills.

Pinkenba Branch: DOWN to Pinkenba, UP to Eagle Junction.

Airport Branch: DOWN to Domestic, UP to Airport Junction.

Shorncliffe Branch: DOWN to Shorncliffe, UP to Northgate.