Jonathan Lee

Worldly Images

Tasmanian Transport Museum – 10th December 2012

Having flown from Canberra to Hobart the previous day, collecting separate hire cars at the airport, we’d driven the short distance to Glenorchy and stayed a short distance from the Tasmanian Transport Museum, in preparation for a  long day in Tasmania the following day. We’d paid for our own Private Charter so the Museum knew we were turning up, and during our visit we’d be utilsing their English Electric X Class, X1 & Y Class, Y4 on passenger stock.

Monday 10th December 2012 

The Tasmanian Transport Museum only have approx 500m of track to operate a train over but they did a sterling job during our visit, even so. We were greeted at 0930 prompt by a couple of their volunteers and given a short site brief. X1 & Y4 were in the platform waiting for us. As the Y Class is hardly ever used they had to use the X Class to jump start it. Something they thankfully held off until we’d had a scan round the site and a run up to the headshunt and back with the Ruston they had, which had to shunt the stock out of the way to allow the Y Class to get out anyway. Present on site were the following:

Vulcan Foundry 4-8-2 H Class, H1, statically restored

Perry Engineering, 4-8-2 Q Class, Q5, statically restored

Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn M Class, M5, operational

Beyer Peacock C22, operational

Dubs & Co 0-4-2 rack tank #2, statically restored

Climax Mfg Co B Type Climax No 1653, statically restored

Waddingtons Rail Motor No.15

When the Y Class did start it sounded very meaty indeed; more like a 12 cylinder than a 6 cylinder EE. There was no whistle from it while idling either, just a proper growl. The only thing I can actually compare the noise to was Alco DL500 A302 in Greece the first time I had it, it revved up as though hunting, creating a growl every time it did so. Not bad for an EE I have to say.

With the X shunted out of the way our morning of cranking commenced with Y4 doing the honours. Despite the line only being 500m long the driver did give it a bit of thrash, it sounding like a Class 37 on full power, and only from 6 cylinders……

Of course our running was limited with the short line to operate over but we sorted out with the crew exactly what we wanted to do and where to position the train for photo stops and run-by’s very early on, thus making everyone’s life easier right from the start. Basically we did two runs out and back each time, firstly with Y4, then with X1, followed by Y4 & X1 both on the train, albeit with X1 only there for show. Photo stops were done at the end of the line and beneath the signals at the museum end, followed by a run-by from a standing start, on each occasion. Everyone was happy and the guys knew what they were doing; even the weather was good to us.

During afternoon lunch, that the railway provided for us, one lucky member of our group got to be interviewed by the local Hobart News crew, the footage of which would be aired shortly afterwards. The museum’s manager had asked if we’d do it before we’d left the UK, it being a big thing for them with a group travelling so far just to visit their site; something they deemed newsworthy. And something they could make a bit of publicity from as well no doubt. It was all harmless fun and hopefully they did get some publicity from it, they treated us well during our morning visit; everything going as planned with Y4 being the star of the show. It was just unfortunate that we were on a tight schedule and with a three hour drive ahead of us had to rush off to the other side of the island to Devonport and the Don River Railway, where we were expected at 1500; our second Private Charter of the day.