Mainline Operation in NSW

15000hp Hauling Wheat Out of Werris Creek
Sound like some serious overkill when it comes to horsepower? Ardglen is still between them and their destination

Work Trains at Cheltenham
Friday night, March 19th, 2010 and we’re at Cheltenham in NSW to watch the work trains work up the grade.

SSR Grain Trains in Victoria
The current drought that’s really impacted the wheat harvest in NSW and parts of Queensland has led to some very interesting train movements that have never happened in the past and that are only possible now because many main lines in Victoria have been been converted to standard gauge.

ARG Streamliners on the Illawarra

It’s late 2003 and ARG has picked up the Manildra to Nowra flour contract and they are running it with CLP, CLF and L Class locos

Struggling at Ardglen

Ardglen has always been the steepest grade facing Up trains heading from the coal mines and wheat fields of the north west of NSW.

With a ruling grade of 1 in 37 it’s been a tough slog up Ardglen right from the early days of steam. There has been a passing siding right from the early days but it’s not right at the top of the grade.

The driver of an Up train that’s put away there, so that a Down train can pass, faces the prospect of getting his train moving up the steepest part of the grade from a standing start.

The driver of the wheat train featured in this video certainly knew his stuff. 

Werris Creek to Ardglen 2010

Heavy mainline action as it was back in 2010 featuring Pacific National and Freightliner

Werris Creek Departure

It’s harvest time in 2002 and back then, when there was wheat to be moved, branchline units were often pressed into service on mainline trains.

Here we have a quad lashup of 48 Class branchline locos hauling a Newcaste bound wheat train out of Werris Creek. Let’s hope that there are some bankers waiting at Willow Tree to help them over Ardglen.

Vintage Diesel Action on Cowan Bank

This video features some early diesels still able to work hard on the 1 in 37 of Cowan Bank.

The Northern Rivers Railroad 1998 – 2002

On of the first “private” operators to begin operating after the move to privatising the railways in Australia was the NRR … owned by Queensland Railways.

It’s main purpose was to operate a short branchline in northern NSW and to haul infrastructure trains on the NSW north coast.

It operated an interesting fleet of early NSW GM diesels and rebuilt locos from Queensland that rode on 49 Class bogies.

Sadly the NRR … and its wonderful liveries … has long gone; it was absorbed into what became Aurizon.

Sandgate NSW

Sandgate is located near Newcastle in NSW Australia. It’s a great place to watch some mainline action on one of the busiest sections of mainline in the country.

In just a few hours you will see short and long distance coal trains, wheat trains, intermodals, local, country and interstate passenger trains and more.

If you wonder why some of the coal trains are moving slowly it’s because there is often another coal train just a section or two ahead … and then another one just a section or two ahead of that.

Sandgate is also a very popular place for enthusiasts and their video cameras.

Trains Sandgate

Filmed in September 2017

Rail Action at Sandgate 

Filmed over 20 minutes on March 20, 2017

Busy Afternoon

Filmed in a little under 2 hours on Sunday, 9th August, 2015

Blue Mountains and Beyond

It was often hard to find a train during daylight in the central west of NSW back in the 1980s and early 1990s … I know, I lived there and spent a lot of time looking … but things have changed.

This was a quiet day back in 2012.


The ruling grade on the line from Newcastle to the north-west of NSW. Out there is coal and wheat in huge quantities and to get it all over Ardglen and down to the port takes big power and big lash-ups. The big power works the coal trains while the big lash-ups appear on the wheat and they are all down to a crawl as they claw their way to the top.

In steam and early diesel days this line was single track.

Here’s almost 12,000 horsepower tackling the climb in 2017.

And here is 8,700 GE horsepower on the front and around 12,000 EMD horsepower shoving on the rear of a coal train in 2016 as it heads for Newcastle where the coal will be exported overseas.

Ardglen Bankers

Hear the sweet sound of Alco 251s pushing thousands of tonnes up Ardglen Bank

Heavy Mainline Operation in the NSW Hunter Valley

Filmed around Maitland on April 9 and 10, 2016.

Sunrise at Tarana Quarry – 2015

Tarana is a small village on the main western line that runs from Sydney through the  Central Tablelands of NSW to Broken Hill and beyond.

Many years ago Tarana was a busy junction for the Oberon line but these days there’s no junction and not as many trains but, if you pick your times, you can see several in just a few hours.

This video was filmed near the site of Tarana Quarry … a former ballast quarry and platform a few kilometres west of the main Tarana station … that was closed years many years before Tarana lost its junction status.