Posts Tagged ‘Trains’

Rolling Rust

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

A rolling stone gathers no moss” said the Latin writer Publilus Syrus and this is true of rolling stock (railway carriages plying a nation’s rail system) too.
The very opposite of this ancient proverb lies before our eyes in the once mildly busy shunting yards at Healesville’s railway station. Old train carriages, once the pride of the Victorian Railway’s fleet, lie waiting their turn for restoration by Yarra Valley Tourist Railway volunteers. In the meantime, they march toward “unrepairable” – their patinas attract our attention.
The regular train service in Healesville stopped long ago – 1981 to be exact. How do I know? Because my father was the last serving Station Master at this station and I was present the day the last train rolled into the railway station – a sad day for the community and for rail enthusiasts in the state of Victoria.
For many years after the last train service the station and rail line were virtually abandoned, however, through the efforts of many enthusiastic volunteers, the rail line has been partially re-opened and tourists can now take a short journey from Healesville to the nearby Tarrawarra area. The memories of this beautiful trip are still vivid – out of the station, over the crossing, across the Watts River then up the incline all the way to the beautiful brick tunnel then down the other side toward the Yarra River flats and on to the Tarrawarra Monastery station.
A variety of rolling stock is now located at in the Healesville railway yard. Some of it is serviceable but most of it is in need of time, money and labour all of which is in limited supply.
The old carriages (and even older buildings) may not attract the attention of passersby however, if one stops long enough, the beauty of the blended mix of Mother Nature and Man Made is worth capturing on “film”.
Negotiating the worn rails and ballast we savour the contrast of faded paintwork and rust on the old carriages and delight in the angles created by nature and steel. Safe in the knowledge that nothing is going to move we get up close to wheels, springs and levers.
Like two excited children we delight in the opportunity to be “down in the pit” (off platform), surrounded by the smell of old grease and diesel – a “train spotter’s” Nirvana.
For those interested in anything to do with railways a visit to the Healesville railway station and the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway headquarters is a must. Don’t neglect the neglected and, if you would like to see the railway return to its former glory days become a volunteer or donate some monies to this worthwhile cause.

Click on the FS icon in the bottom right hand corner of the gallery for full screen view:

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Time Keeping

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Not sure what time it is? What do you do if your watch is a little slow?  There’s an easy fix.  Check the departure time of the JR (Japan Rail) Hokkaido train you are sitting on and when it pulls out of the station reset your watch.  The trains in Japan arrive and depart as though they are linked to premium made Swiss clocks.

The Japanese are renown for their efficiency and one of the most tangible examples of this is JR Hokkaido.  If you are from a country where the arrival and departure times of public transport are “flexible” then you had best not rely on getting to the station a few minutes late in Japan – the train wont be there.

And what about the standard of the carriages?  Both subway and intercity trains are superb.  On the intercity trains even the most basic seats can be likened to a premium economy seat in a modern airliner – lots of leg room, in seat power, a huge dining tray and a seat that lays back far enough for you to get a very comfortable sleep.

We bought a 7 day, unlimited rail pass for our time in Hokkaido.  We were able to purchase the pass on arrival at Hokkaido’s New Chitose airport. We used it daily to travel all over Hokkaido.  For just over $40USD a day we enjoyed the luxury of the excellent trains and the efficiency of Japan Rail.

If you are going to be visiting Hokkaido and don’t want to spend your time driving or on buses then pick up a JR Hokkaido rail pass and experience train travel at its best.

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