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West Coast Steam Railway

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by Luckypenguin, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. Late last year when I visited Australia's southernmost state of Tasmania I had the chance to travel on the West Coast Railway between the towns of Strahan and Queenstown. The railway dates back to the late 19th century when it was built to provide a rail link between the copper mines at Queenstown and the seaport at Strahan. The railway winds its way through difficult terrain alongside the Queen and King Rivers and detours inland to pass around the King River Gorge. The railway closed in 1963 but funding was obtained to restore the railway and the remaining steam engines in 1998. It became active again as a passenger and tourist train in 2000. A unique feature of the railway is that it utilises a double rack and pinion system in the steeper sections of track through the King River Gorge diversion. Twin pinions under the engine engage with the rack rails to help pull the engine up the incline and arrest its speed on the decline.

    On this occasion I was using only the E-M5 fitted initially with the PL25mm f1.4 and then later the Olympus 12-50mm as the rain got heavier. This was the first time that I had properly tested the weatherproofing of both camera and lens and in these circumstances it certainly was a very useful feature to have. Rather than being a hindrance, the gloomy, rainy weather seemed somehow appropriate for this journey and for this part of the Tasmanian wilderness.

    1. Engine No. 5, the baby of the fleet, enters the station




    3. Inside/outside of one of the passenger carriages






    6. Connecting the engine to the carriages


    7. Giving the engine a drink at the first stop (Lower Landing)


    8. And people complain about Olympus UI being complex!


    9. Looking down the platform at Lower Landing


    10. The rain starts to come down harder at the next stop, but the engine still needs some TLC regardless


    11. A close-up of the twin rack rails that run over the inclined section of track








    15. Cigarette break


    16. The decision not to sell the weatherproofed 12-50mm lens seems like an inspired one right now


    17. The amusingly named "Dubbil Barril" station. The story is too long to tell here but it comes from a misspelling of double barrel shotgun from one of the young workers who built the railway.


    18. Smoking from both ends of the engine


    19. The rain stops briefly as we get ready to leave Dubbil Barril


    20. Rinadeena is the highest point along the railway, and also commonly referred to as "rain indeed". After a few minutes of the dry weather shown here it started to live up to it's name.


    21. The end of the line at Queenstown; the town built around the former copper mines of Mt Lyell.









    • Like Like x 33
  2. cherrywood

    cherrywood Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 17, 2010
    Train shots

    Lucky, great set, like #8, with all the Gizmos in the engine room and also the architectural shot inside the train station with the wall and ceiling beams.

    • Like Like x 2
  3. snkenai

    snkenai Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 5, 2010
    Do I understand, that the train is actually driven by a cog (rack and pinion) center drive, between the rails?
    Great story set. Thanks for the "ride".
    • Like Like x 1
  4. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    Very nice. I love trains and especially steam trains. Thanks for sharing.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Zariell

    Zariell Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 28, 2012
    Bountiful, UT
    Seeing those wonderful images makes me wish that there were still some steam lines in Utah, alas they have gone the way if the Dodo. :( 

    Thank you so much for sharing them!
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Thanks for looking :smile: As a kid I was qute fascinated by trains and this was the first time in a long while that I had had the chance to ride on an older steam train.

    That's correct, but only as an auxiliary drive system. Most of the track has reasonably flat grades and the engine drives normally through the wheels. On the incline section the engine will lower and engage a pair of driving pinions onto the "rack rails" in the centre of the track when the wheels don't have sufficient purchase. The teeth on the two racks are even staggered so that one pinion is enagaging the next tooth while the other is starting to disengage.
  7. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    Somebody really loves that train, it's beautifully restored. I think the rain adds a nice interest to the photos, a reminder that they weren't fair weather trains, they worked no matter what the weather.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. DownUnderDog

    DownUnderDog Mu-43 Regular

    Great shots Nic,
    just can't wait to get over there and see it all for myself.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Whoa great stuff!!!! :bravo-009:
    Trains (rail) is one of my most favorite subjects! :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  10. 2mnycars

    2mnycars Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2012
    What an absolute delight!

    I can just imagine the sound and smells!


    Fascinated with steam!
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 7, 2011
    Excellent set and story telling!
    • Like Like x 1
  12. DPitts

    DPitts Mu-43 Rookie

    Dec 15, 2012
    Raleigh NC
    Doug Pitts
    ....excellent color, contrasts, and subject...my Dad was a railroader...I remember it well.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Firedogg

    Firedogg Have cash, will spend

    Thanks very much Nic for your beautiful photos

    It's been quite a while since I last went on the West Coast Railway. I remember it well (had some photos, but are lost now). They've done a great job of restoring everything to the period.

    Unfortunately it looks like the West Coast Railway will be closing in April, due to financial reasons. Much of the track needs repairing or replacing and the company running the railway claims they don't have the money to do the maintenance, despite owning a handful of hotels and a couple of casinos (they're loaded)! Once the public found out, they lobbied the Government for approximately $6m in emergency funding. If they open the purse-strings, it'll keep the railway going for maybe another year, but then they'll need to spend $20m (more repairs, maintenance, upgrades, safety, the whole nine yards).

    This has only become public knowledge in the last week, and I'm busting to get back around to the West Coast in-case it shuts permanently. I can't find the time unfortunately. Maybe another one going the way of the Tassie Tiger (reference to dodo in a previous post).

    So, thanks again Nic for sharing.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Thanks again everyone!

    That must have been quite the job back in the age of steam. Hard and dirty work I imagine, but an intrepid lifestyle nonetheless.

    Hi Michael,

    I had no idea about that, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. The West Coast railway is a unique experience and it would be awful to see it fade away again. I can imagine that maintaining a track which is upwards of 120 years old in that type of weather and terrain is no easy task, as well as the upkeep of the engines and carriages themselves. I do hope that a solution can be found since the railway is such a great piece of working history.
  15. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Thanks Nic. Wonderful group of photos.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. iGonzoid

    iGonzoid Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 6, 2011
    Tasmania, Australia
    Sadly, Federal Hotels, which operates the ABT Railway has decided to get out of the arrangement with the Tasmanian State Government, which owns the railway infrastructure. Huge debate going on as how to continue to run the project.
  17. I was just reading a news story about it then, and it doesn't look very positive.
  18. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 25, 2012
    wow that fourth image with the sign, seems so sharp it burns my eyes!
    • Like Like x 1
  19. fsuscotphoto

    fsuscotphoto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2013
    St. Cloud, FL
    Are these jpg or raw?
  20. Hi, these are all developed from raw files.
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