News 2009                         


November 2009

26th November 2009

By late afternoon on Thursday 26th November, mast bases, cable pits, main cable conduiting and drain extension were completed. The next stage will be the concrete bases and an apron for the location box control cabinets which will be placed at the square pit which can be seen in the left of the left photograph below. 


25th November 2009

There is always something to make any job a bit bigger than need be. In this case, in order to place one of the signal masts correctly, an existing drain had to be extended. This was done on Wednesday 25th November together with the commencement of installation of the cabling pits.


24th November 2009

The conduits for cabling to the signal masts at the Del Park Rd crossing at Dwellingup was installed by under-bore directional drilling. This was carried out on Tuesday 24th November by Cape Cable.


12th November 2009

HVTR was successful in its request for funding to install flashing lights at the Del Park Road (Newton St) level crossing in Dwellingup. On Thursday 12th November, site works commenced with location of existing underground services by Cable Locates and installation of the mast bases. To minimize disturbance of the surrounding area, particularly the road formation, the giant 'vacuum cleaner' used by the cable locaters for pot-holing cable positions, was used to create the holes for the mast bases.  


11th November 2009

 The line from Alumina Junction to Dwellingup was unfortunately closed once again by circumstances beyond our control.

On Wednesday afternoon 11th  November, a grader operating on Grey Rd Marrinup managed to engage the railway with its blade, severely damaging the line. One rail was broken and torn from its sleepers over a length of approximately 15 meters.

HVTR is currently seeking compensation & repair costs from the grader operating organisation.

3rd November 2009 

Completion of the siding at Alumina Junction built with significant assistance from John Holland Rail and Westnet earlier this year has been delayed due to many other priorities.  In the first week of November, completion was brought a little closer when John Holland Rail had a tamping machine in the area and was able to lift, line & tamp the main siding for us between other works.


October 2009

28th October 2009

Wednesday 28th October  saw the last steam run for HVTR in the very short 2009 season. Passenger loadings on all trains were very high with almost half the average 6 month season numbers carried in just 6 weeks. Thank you to all those who supported our re-commencement of the Steam Ranger services.

Steam Loco G123 was returned from Dwellingup to Pinjarra for maintenance, as second engine on the returning Steam Ranger that day.


4th October 2009


The Pinjarra Steam Rangers have continued to operate to Dwellingup Sundays & Wednesdays with very good passenger loadings.

Here, the Steam ranger is passing over the 3km bridge on the morning of Sunday 4th October.




September 2009

20th September 2009

Steam Ranger Returns - Sunday 20th September the first passenger train was operated from Pinjarra to Dwellingup since the railway was severely damaged by wildfires in January 2007.   Following the fires, State Government funding of  $2.1 million was provided to Hotham Valley Railway via the Peel Development Commission for re-building of the railway's fire damage infrastructure.  Without this funding, Hotham Valley Railway would have become nothing more than a memory..

Here, the re-opening of the line is celebrated as W920 assisted by W903 depart Pinjarra with the first passenger train to Dwellingup since October 2006. Along with the many fare paying passengers that had booked their seats well in advance for this special day, there were members, workers and guests from the many organisations which worked to re-build the railway, all adding up to make a total of 260 passengers and a great day.

16th September 2009

Wednesday  16th September  was a great day with a very successful commissioning run of the first thru train to Dwellingup since the fires. The train ran with three cars to Isandra, then light engine to Marrinup & return to Isandra, re-coupled to the three cars and on through to Dwellingup with no problems of any kind.




13th September 2009

On Sunday 13th September, the first train entered the HVTR line to Dwellingup for what was to be a commissioning service over the line. Unfortunately, problems were experienced with W920 which resulted in the train only reaching the 4.5km point and having to be recovered to Pinjarra by diesel electric traction. I guess we should have known better than to run the first train on a "13th".


6th September 2009 

Sunday 6th September and the field installations for the level crossing lights is progressing.


August 2009

31st August 2009

Back in the workshop at Pinjarra, the electrical control equipment takes shape. Initially, the lights will be manually operated with the automatic equipment being installed over summer following final ballast regulating etc.


17th August 2009

On  Monday 17th August, Roadside Billboard ads were placed on three APN Outdoor display sites around Perth announcing "Steam Returns to the Ranges" in readiness for the re-commencement of the Steam Ranger services in September. The photo below shows the Albany Hwy Kelmscott site. This promotion was made possible through Grant Funding from the Peel Development Commission and other Sponsorships to HVR including generous discounting by APN Outdoor.


16th August 2009

The following day, the same work was completed at the top crossing.


15th August 2009

Saturday 15th August saw commencement of the final mast work at the active level crossings. The tall mast with double lamp sets were easily worked on with the aid of a hydraulic work platform. Unfortunately, the weather was wet making work slow and uncomfortable. In the photos below, Andrew Bremner & Will Howard complete the mast work at the lower lights crossing.


9th August 2009

As the rollingstock & locos for the first trains are being readied, work continues on the level crossing lights. On Sunday 9th August, the battery location cases were installed, one at each crossing, and cabling was installed. 



2nd August 2009

In the late afternoon of Sunday 2nd August, Bernie & Will take a break & pose for a happy snap following steam tests and mechanical examinations of W903 & W920. On the same day, C1702 and a quantity of the AH passenger coaches also had their fitness examinations.

July 2009

26th July 2009

 Sunday 26th July saw further, more visual progress on the two sets of level crossing lights when the old painted steel masts were replaced by new galvanized masts, one of which can be seen in the background of the adjacent photograph (lamps yet to be fitted). As part of this work, the northern-most masts at each crossing are being replaced with much taller masts that will carry additional lights to give earlier sighting to approaching road users.


18th July 2009

As the railway re-construction nears completion, work has been continuing behind the scenes at Pinjarra preparing locomotives and rollingstock for the re-commencement of services. In the photographs here, Will Howard and Andrew Bremner re-fit the safety valves to W903 following inspection & testing whilst Derek Castagnetti is busy with painting on W920.


4th July  2009

Work on the Level Crossing Lights continued on Saturday 4th July with the pouring of the apron slabs around the bases for the electrical control cabinets. The upper crossing site is shown on the left with the lower crossing site on the right. Completion of the installation of these sets of lights is the last remaining major work to complete the full re-construction of the fire damaged infrastructure. Although this sounds simple enough, the work involved to achieve this is extensive, very diverse and all being carried out by HVTR itself .


June 2009

28th June 2009

On a wet, windy and cold Sunday, lifting and tamping of the HVTR Alumina Junction siding turnouts was tackled with an unpleasant day out enjoyed by all. New member Stuart Biss learnt a lot on the day, especially the primary use for long handled shovels as demonstrated below. Everyone worked very hard in the trying conditions resulting in the western set being completed and the eastern set being lifted ready for tamping which was completed in the following week.



26th June 2009

Although most efforts remain directed to restoring the fire damaged infrastructure, developing better infrastructure to enhance HVTR's ability to operate varying services into the future has not been ignored. Construction of a loop and dead end siding at Alumina Junction with significant assistance from John Holland Rail and WestNet Rail has been a major undertaking (see April 20 & 22 news). Here, the Pemberton Tramway's 1975 model Passer Switch Tamper is being delivered by John Holland's' track machine transporter. This tamper is specially designed to tamp turnouts, where multiple rails need to be worked around during tamping, necessitating the tamping heads having tynes which can be individually moved sideways as required.

14th June 2009


On Sunday 14th June, the pre-cast concrete bases were installed at both upper & lower lights crossings for the electrical control cabinets. The two bases of the upper crossing can be seen here in front of member John Wilkinson.

The cable pit installation Will Howard was working on the previous day can be seen in the shadows between John and the mini excavator.


13th June 2009  


More cable pits. 

Here, HVTR member Will Howard works on the main electrical cabinet location pit at the upper crossing.





12th June 2009


The adjacent photo shows the lower lights level crossing following completion of the cable pit installations. Four of the five pits can be seen as well as the extended drain headwall on the extreme right of the photograph. The fifth pit is out to the left of the photo on the embankment where the electrical control cabinets will be installed.



11th June 2009

When the fires swept through in January 2007, the extent of damage one way or another was profound. The electrical cabling of the level crossing lights was destroyed which might be expected but if that wasn't enough, vehicles involved in fighting the fires or replacing power poles took their toll on the cabling "pits" as well with most wrecked by having been driven over. The old cable pits were small rectangular boxes made from fibre-cement which made them vulnerable to traffic. These have been replaced by the more modern


May 2009

23rd May 2009


On the weekend of May 23rd/24th, similar site work to that carried out the previous week on the lower lights (13.197km) crossing was undertaken at the upper lights (14.273km) as well as the installation of 4 new concrete cable pits.




17th May 2009

The major site work on replacing the two sets of Level Crossing Flashlight Sets commenced on Sunday 17th May with the installation of newly positioned mast bases. This portion of the works is being done to bring the installations in line with current standards. In addition, there will be extra lamps on one mast at each of the two crossings to provide better and earlier presentation to road users of the activated lights. The latest LED lamp heads will also be replacing the older incandescent lamps.

Unfortunately, the local terrain is largely rock which necessitated the use of a jack hammer for most of the hole depth in order to break up the ground before it could be dug out. 


16th May 2009

On Saturday 16th May, with the help of a more suitably sized machine to load the LA hoppers provided by Robbo's Contracting, ballasting from the 21.500km point to Dwellingup was completed. Traditional Gravel (roundly 240 tonnes) was used as the ballasting material for this section of the line, thereby retaining the historical appearance of the branch line. This section was the only portion of the line not damaged by the bushfires. Approximately 900 sleepers have been renewed in this section to bring it up to a similar standard to the remainder of the rebuilt section, making the track generally consistent in strength & condition from Alumina Junction to Dwellingup.

The Gravel used was obtained from the old Railway Ballast Pit adjacent to the line at approximately the 22.250km point. The photograph below shows a portion of the pit and a cutting in the foreground where the dead end ballast pit siding once stood.

The payloader provided by Robbo's Contracting was a big time saver. 3 bucket loads with this compared to 28 bucket loads for the Bobcat to fill each LA was indeed a refreshing change. We owe Robbo's a big thanks for all the extra unpaid assistance they have provided to HVTR. Only a week previously, a smaller loader had been loaned to us by them for the weekend to help complete ballasting of the new sidings at Alumina Junction.


4th May 2009

The last ballasting with crushed rock road base was carried out from the 17.500km point to 21.500km. The ballast for this was stockpiled at Marrinup on what was the site of the siding there.

Ballasting to the 21.500km was completed on Wednesday 13th May however forming and regulating of the ballasted sections from the 18.500km was yet to be carried out.


April 2009

22nd April 2009

The photo below is taken from the eastern end of the new loop, looking westward. This set of points will access a dead end storage siding and another set located behind the photographer will connect the tangent side of this set of points to the HVTR main line.

These new facilities will greatly enhance HVTR's operational abilities, particularly as the dead end siding will stow equipment currently occupying the loop at Isandra, thereby freeing it up for train operations.

22nd April 2009

The points at the western (Pinjarra) end of the new HVTR Alumina Junction loop near completion.


20th April 2009

Below is the developing "new" Alumina Junction, looking somewhat different to the photos shown in the August 2008 News. With the re-sleepering of the WestNet Rail South West Mainline now complete, the HVTR area used as the Sleeper Depot is being developed into an operational facility for HVTR with the installation of a loop and dead end storage siding with significant and greatly appreciated assistance from John Holland and WestNet Rail. On Monday 20th April, track laying of the loop commenced.


18th April 2009

When the bushfires ravaged the area in 2007, all of the electricity infrastructure was also lost which included the power supplies to the two sets of level crossing lights in the 13 to 14km area. On Saturday 18th April, the transformers not replaced at the time were re-installed for HVTR by Western Power. The truck is parked on a cleared area where the replacement electrical cabinets will soon be installed. 

Thanks to grant funding secured from WA Lotteries by the Rail Heritage Foundation of WA, the historic loco shed on the Western side of Pinjarra yard is currently receiving a new roof of Galvanized Iron sheeting to replace the once 'modern' asbestos roof. This probably makes a full circle for the roof cladding over the last 100+ years of the building's life. 


16th April 2009

And the ballasting continues.................

The fire damage from the 16km bridge to the 17.5km point was some of the worst on the line with multiple sleeper losses over long areas which then resulted in much of the formation being damaged and washed away with the ensuing winter rains. Significant quantities of new ballast material have been required in areas such as this.


3rd April 2009

As the ballasting work progresses, the important ballast regulating follows. The photos below show ploughing and brooming being carried out immediately east of the 13km bridge (approx 13.4km).

Consistent with all the other track maintenance equipment, this machine is an 'old timer' and a bit of an historic relic in its own right. Owned by the Pemberton Tramway Co, this Kalamazoo model T-40 Ballast Equalizer is ex Queensland Railways MMB12, which was completely re-built by the PTCo in 2000 following purchase of MMB8 & MMB12 from Queensland Railways as wrecks in October 1999. MMB12 has one significant ex WAGR component being the turntable which was provided to the PTCo by the Bennet Brook Railway of Whiteman Park which had many years earlier acquired two similar machines owned by the WAGR and subsequently built one machine from the two for use on their 2 foot gauge railway, resulting in some useful 'leftovers'.


March 2009

31st March 2009

As the re-commencement of Steam draws nearer, work is well underway on the various maintenance needs of the HVTR Steam Loco fleet. The adjacent photo shows the interior of W920's tender which has been thoroughly cleaned and painted. A great deal of this very important 'unseen' work is continually being carried out by the midweek volunteer gentry on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at Pinjarra..


21st March 2009

Early in March, Metropolitan Vickers built ex WAGR loco XA1401 was made operational for the first time in almost 2 years. Then on Saturday 21st March, XA 1401 was used for shunting moves at Pinjarra depot. The loco proved to be operating normally with a good deal of noise, vibration and obligatory smoke all of which the class were well known for.

The XA should see the occasional outing this year across to Isandra from Pinjarra on the HVTR line to Dwellingup as the organisation strives to undertake more activities and operations of railway & heritage interest in conjunction with its tourist & leisure activities.

20th March 2009

On Friday 20th March, work was continuing to be carried out on the old Claisebrook (East Perth) Footbridge which is to be re-erected across the mainlines at Pinjarra linking the Hotham Valley Railway platform with the PTA platform, Alcoa Information & Tours centre, Pinjarra Visitor Centre and township. This steel footbridge (historic in its own right) is similar in appearance to the timber structure which existed at Pinjarra many years ago. The new bridge will not be in quite the same place however interpretive information will be presented for visitors to gain an understanding of the various histories involved. 

Federal Government Grant Funding has been provided for this project by the Rail Heritage Foundation of WA.

14th March 2009

Ballasted and regulated, the 'track' is starting to look more like a 'Railway' once again.

These photos show sections of the finished work between Alumina Junction and Isandra.


7th & 8th March 2009

With the lining work completed, ballasting of the deficient areas could be commenced. Following earlier trials, two La hoppers were fitted with hydraulically operated discharge doors and operator side seating to make the ballasting task a better controlled affair, faster and safer. On Saturday 7th March, the La's were loaded at Isandra Siding and ballasting commenced. The enhancements proved to be an outstanding success.

This photograph shows ballasting at roundly the 12.7km point on Sunday 8th March.





Left: La Hoppers being loaded at Isandra.






Right:  Ballasting immediately east of Isandra on 8th March.  The ballast regulator can be seen in the distance.



February 2009

22nd February 2009

The extensive re-sleepering works along the line had significantly disturbed the trackwork geometry, which was to be expected, necessitating corrective re-lining. This would be an enormous manual task and although modern tamping machines could do the work, their brute force would likely create bigger issues with sleeper fastenings on the older sleepers.

Ex WAGR track aligning machine TM701 (owned by the Pemberton Tramway Co) having not operated for some 14 years was re-commissioned with surprising ease and commenced work at HVTR on Saturday 21st  February. The photos here show the lining machine working at the 12km point on Sunday 22nd February, operated by Andrew Bremner and being assisted by Will Howard. By the close of the following Sunday, several hundred locations had been re-aligned between Alumina Junction and Dwellingup in just 4 working days.





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