For most people shifting house, once they have a new
house to shift into, involves a fairly simple set of arrangements with a
removalist company, usually having made the choice to move of their own
free will. Things are slightly different when your landlord would like
you to leave and you have to shift 3 locomotives, 26 carriages, wagons
vans etc and all your railway related property. This is what the
Mornington Railway Preservation Society faced in 1997.
Around the start of the year, the federal government
conducted a review of defence force operations. Options for the Royal
Australian Navy included closing HMAS Cerberus or to consolidate all
general entry training for the Army, the RAAF as well as the RAN onto
HMAS Cerberus, already used for RAN general entry training.
Should either option have been adopted, it would mean
that it would no longer be possible for the MRPS to continue to be based
at HMAS Cerberus. Accordingly defence department chiefs in Canberra
decided that the MRPS should be asked to move out by the end of June
This situation became apparent quite clearly about mid
February 1997 giving just over four months to complete all tasks required
to move out. The major tasks included upgrading the track from Baxter to
Moorooduc to transfer standard, constructing sidings at Moorooduc,
extending the Moorooduc security compound and conducting undergear checks
and repairs on all items of rollingstock.
Work started almost straight away on the upgrade of the
track between Baxter and Moorooduc. A shed had already been erected on
the up side of Moorooduc Highway to house a motorised trolley and sleeper
replacer which had been donated incomplete some time earlier by Puffing
Billy. This saved having to transfer these pieces of equipment across the
busy Highway every Saturday.
Every Saturday from February to July 12, the track gang
working from Moorooduc towards Baxter replaced over 500 sleepers to bring
the track up to transfer standard. Labour was supplied by MRPS volunteers
and people on community service orders.
At the same time as the track upgrade was being
conducted, the undergear and the brakes of every piece of rollingstock
had to be inspected and in some cases repaired and replaced. Around this
time it became definite that 60RM could not be expected to be passed for
mainline clearance due to sections of the body being outside the loading
gauge, the result of an accident before coming into MRPS possession. As
well as this the MRPS learnt that their Trak Chief, ATC1, would have to
go by road, either driven or on the back of a truck, as the railways
didn't recognise the Trak Chief as a railway vehicle. In the end it was
trucked to Baxter then driven on rail to Moorooduc conducting a track
inspection on the way.
As a departure date of July - August was starting to look
likely, a "Farewell to Cerberus" steam day was planned for Sunday June
8th and run with great success. Over 1300 people travelled on the
shuttles between Crib Point and the platform at HMAS Cerberus with K163
hauling 65AW - 27BU - 45BE and 57BE. The last passenger train to depart
Crib Point for Cerberus left Crib Point about 1530.
After the success of "Farewell to Cerberus" MRPS members
kept on preparing for the move, with some putting up to six days per week
unpaid towards making the move a reality. Several dates were being
suggested for the move but Grand Final night (27th Sept) began to emerge
as the clear favourite. This assumption was backed up when head office
asked one of the local drivers based at Crib Point if it would be
possible to stable the three MTH carriages from the Stony Point pass at
Stony Point that night instead of at Crib Point, the usual stabling
While preparations were continuing, 60RM had been sold to
a Melbourne based preservation group and transferred from Crib Point on
Sat 16-8-1997, an event already covered in Newsrail. The new owners had
repaired the DERM to allow a transfer at speeds of up to 70km/h. The
current plan for the move involved every piece of rollingstock going in
one long train hauled by K163 and the locomotive off the Stony Point
pass. The consist of the train and shunting at Baxter would be arranged
so that K163 would enter Moorooduc first, then carriages/wagons/vans etc
and finally T334, which was most likely to cause damage to the track due
to its higher axle load.
As preparations continued another date for the move was
suggested and decided upon, Sat 11 Oct and Sun 12 Oct 1997. While
possible to complete all tasks for a move on the 27/9, many MRPS members
felt the extra two weeks breathing space would be helpful in case
something went wrong or any unforseen problems arose. Personally I was
very happy at the prospect because I was on the other side of the world
on the 27/9. Thankfully I did not have to make the choice between two
events of a lifetime.
With the date of the move finalised and a decision made
that the move was to be by two trains, a major shunt at HMAS Cerberus was
held on Saturday 4th October. 10 hours were spent putting the vehicles
into the correct order based upon coupler type, braking strength and
eventual destination. While most remaining vehicles were headed for
Moorooduc, AHRS carriages 30AV and 45ABL and WCR steam loco D3688 were
going to the WCR depot at Ballarat East.
Over the preceding few months leading up to the move, the
compound at Moorooduc was enlarged and two dead end sidings connected to
the main line at the down end were laid. A portable building was also
brought in for an onsite caretaker to live in.
The day we all had been waiting for, Saturday 11th
October, finally arrived. It was a nice sunny morning as T334 conducted
the final track patrol at HMAS Cerberus around 1100. Once the track
patrol was completed there was not very much happening for the next few
hours, so it was a good time for some lunch, the local milk bar at Crib
Point makes the best hot chips on the Mornington Peninsula.
The action started to commence about 1600. 65AW and 5CV
were swapped from their respective trains giving 5CV - 45BE - 27BU as the
main carriages for members with refreshments available in 5CV. The
rollingstock was hauled out of Cerberus in four separate rakes, the first
one leaving hauled by T334 at about 1700.
As the evening and mosquitos started to set in K163
hauled its first rake to Crib Point, returning light to Cerberus a little
while later. While some members may have been sorry to leave HMAS
Cerberus, they were very glad to leave some of the most vicious mozzies
that they knew.
The cold wind had started to set in after dusk, and while
a nuisance, it may have been responsible for driving away the mosquitoes.
It made the job of being the final flagman to protect the gangway inside
Cerberus a little less pleasant. Finally at 2235, K163 - 65AW - 20ZB -
VLPY129 - K177 - 586ZL - 180T - 12CM departed the platform at HMAS
Cerberus with the last train for Crib Point.
A West Coast Railway train had arrived the previous
evening to collect the vehicles going to Ballarat East. With this train
and the trains for Moorooduc, Crib Point was the busiest it had been for
many years, if not its busiest of all time. At one stage there were three
separate trains, five operating locos and all three roads at Crib Point
yard occupied. It would be highly unlikely that Crib Point will see
traffic levels like this again.
After being made up, the second train pushed back past
the up arrival signal to allow the last train that K163 hauled from
Cerberus to attach itself to the back of the WCR train. K163 and its
vehicles were going to be detached at Baxter and then proceed onto the
Mornington line, this occurred between 0100 and 0200 Sunday Morning. T369
and T363 hauled the WCR train which left Crib Point at about 2330
Saturday night. A62 on the second transfer train had pulled into Crib
Point platform before the WCR train had departed from no 2 road. Consist
for this train, number 9160, from Crib Point to Baxter was T369 - T363 -
VZDY27 - 60ZD - 45ABL - 30AV - 19ZD - VBCW38Q - D3688 (dead) - VBCW37H -
700BK - 711BK - 714BK - 951WAL - 65AW - 27OT - 586ZL - K177 (dead) -
VLPY129 - 20ZB - 12CM - K163 (in steam), 836 tonnes and 384 meters long.
On time at 0030 on Sunday 12 October 1997, special goods
train number 9540 departed Crib Point for Baxter, 8 years and 9 months
after the MRPS first moved into HMAS Cerberus. Consist for this train was
A62 - 57BE - 2CW - 73HD - 13CM - 24AW - 157W - 45BE - 27BU - 5CV - T334
(dead) - 35C - 278W - 582ZL - 18OT - 73OT - 59RM - 98G - 3ABL - 604ZD -
The journey itself was fairly uneventful with stops at
Bittern to check the axle boxes and stops at Hastings and Somerville to
change the staff and check axle boxes with a stop in between at Tyabb to
inspect axle boxes. At Hastings we passed the 3 MTH carriages stabled off
the Stony Point pass. The last down pass had terminated here the evening
before with road transport provided instead for passengers. Stops just to
check axle boxes were only a few minutes although the stops at Hastings
and Somerville were for about 10 minutes.
After a couple of stops between Somerville and Baxter due
to concern over 13CM's axle boxes we finally arrived at Baxter at 0320,
over one hour earlier then scheduled. After the vehicles were placed by
T334 on the Mornington line, (A62 couldn't pass the points), MRPS workers
on the train were only interested in one thing, sleep. Meanwhile A62
returned to Hastings and because of the early running took the 3 MTH
carriages back to Crib Point. It was originally intended for the first up
pass on Sunday morning to originate at Hastings connecting with road
transport from Crib Point.
Sunday was a day some members had been waiting 13 years
since the MRPS's formation to see. At 0825, K163 - 65AW - 20ZB - VLPY129
- K177 - 586ZL - 27OT - 12CM, departed Baxter, arriving at Moorooduc
about 0900, much to the excitement of the large crowd that had gathered
at Moorooduc. This rake was shunted into the first siding, then K163
returned to Baxter to collect the second rake of vehicles. This rake was
K163 - 58BE - 604ZD - 3ABL - 98G - 59RM - 18OT - 73OT - 582ZL - 278W -
35C. Once this rake had arrived at Moorooduc, T334 hauled the third rake
of vehicles, 5CV - 27BU - 45BE - 152W - 257W - 24AW - 13CM - 73HD - 2CW -
57BE, arriving at Moorooduc by 1130, 16 years and 4 months since the last
train, T356 - 17C - 80BW - 46BE - 9AW - 8AW - 27C had run along the line.
During the transfer of the three rakes, MRPS flagmen
protected the level crossings at Frankston - Flinders road and Moorooduc
Highway assisted by two Victoria Police members.
After the arrival of the third rake, there was a small
amount of shunting to put the third rake into the second siding and the
second rake onto the platform track and to put T334 at the head of number
one siding. K163 was placed at the head of the platform road and ATC1 was
put at the head of number two siding.. The arrival was then complete.
To celebrate the arrival, MRPS members had a lunch
provided for them where the 8 original members from the MRPS's formation
in 1984 present cut a cake dedicated to the arrival.
Since this massive weekend, the MRPS has been fortunate
to secure a grant to reconstruct the platform at Moorooduc and another
grant enabling the purchase of 500 sleepers. This may enable the first
passenger train to run on the Australia Day weekend.
By: Mark Russell
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