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Steam Train Sunday

This page features sounds and images from various runs of Queensland Rail's very popular Steam Train Sunday (STS) loop services.  For those who are out of town and don't know what Steam Train Sunday is, well each 1st Sunday of the month, QR runs a steam hauled passenger train around one of two dedicated loops.  The first one that was used was out through the southern line past South Bank and up through Gloucester St Tunnel, through to Yeerongpilly, where it took the line through Tennyson to Sherwood, which allowed the train to head back to the City via the Exhibition line and "hole in the wall" at Mayne.  This was the "Sherwood Loop" run.

The other run was heading out (via Central and Brunswick St) to Pinkenba at the mouth of the Brisbane River, around the balloon loop there and back to Brisbane, this time running up hill on the Exhibition Line (called this as it runs through the Royal National Association's Exhibition Grounds, home to Brisbane's famous Ekka).

The trips are advertised via public announcements at QR's main stations and on the web, and most services are full to the brim with happy families wanting to experience the sights, sounds and smells of steam traction.

This series of recordings has been made from both on-train and lineside and features all of the active locomotives on the STS roster, including our two BETY pacifics 1079 and 1089, the Yank AC16 221A, 4-8-0 C17 974 and blue tank engine DD17 4-6-4T 1051.   Where I haven't had pics from the day, I've substituted others of the loco in use.

I've set up this page as a tribute to all of those who work and volunteer to make Steam Train Sundays a success and hope that we see them continue next year after the Queensland 150th celebration steam train returns to Brisbane.
Well, I suppose I should start off with the latest recording.  On 7th December 2008, the last Steam Train Sunday for the year was run, and possibly in recognition of the likely long period until the next one runs, the powers that be decided this one would be double headed, with BB18 1/4 1079 and AC16 221A up the front.  This train ran via the Sherwood Loop, and given that I expected the train to be reasonably full, I thought that lineside might be better.  This was also because I thought that on the train, I would not likely hear both locos as the AC16 is quite a loud loco and would probably drown out the other, unless it was the leading engine.

This time I wanted to move away from my usual spot on Tennyson station as it has been a bit hit and miss there of late, but try a new spot where I knew the locos would have to be working, at the point where the Tennyson line rejoins the Ipswich line at Corinda.  The line leading up to the junction is quite steep and the last part traverses one leg of a wye, so also has tight curvature.  Well, we (my lads and I) found a good spot, set up and hoped for the best.  It certainly wasn't the best spot for photos (see below...), but the recording turned out OK, and hunch about the AC drowning out the other loco was proved correct!

                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 1.8MB 2 min 00 secs)
The previous month saw Brown Bomber C17 974 doing the honours, again on the Sherwood Loop.  This time, we were booked to ride the 11.30 am service, so on the way there, took the opportunity to get a lineside recording of the 10.00 am train at Tennyson.

                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 2.8MB 3 min 06 secs)
After the lineside recording, we headed to Roma St and boarded the train (Car 1 Seat 1 of course!).  This time, we also had VIPs travelling on board, none other that the QR Chief Executive and his family.  I'm not sure what he thought of the weirdo with the fluffy microphone hanging out the window, but I tried to be as subtle as possible (honest!).  Here is how the 4-8-0 sounded climbing around the curve from the Tennyson Branch and onto the main line back to Roma St, basically the same spot as I recorded the double header from above.

                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 4.7MB 5 min 8 secs)
The very first STS I went on was back in 2005.  This was behind my long time favourite loco BB18 1/4 1089.  This was also with my older minidisc recorder setup where I had to use a small preamp.  Unfortunately, on this day the thing decided to generate a sporadic buzzing sound which ruined the on-train recording, but I was able to get a lineside recording at the usual spot at Tennyson.

                      (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 4.7MB 5 min 8 secs)

It was nearly a year then to the next time we rode another STS, and by this time, the destination had changed to the Pinkenba loop.  While the destination was not all that salubrious, being amongst fertilser factories and grain silos, the run out and back features some good climbs.  This coupled with the loudest of QR's locos, made for some good recordings.  On the 11.30 service, crews were usually changed at Bowen Hills, and this, in conjunction with some speed restrictions on crossovers beyond the station, meant for a slow run at Albion Bank.  Here is how AC16 221A sounded on 5 November 2006.

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 5.8MB 6 min 18 secs)
A little under a month later, it was 1079 doing the honours, once again on the Pinkenba loop.   Iím always on the lookout for new recording locations in the City to record these runs, and this time I chose a spot next to the line at Albion to catch the train working up Albion Bank.  The only problem was the noise barriersÖ  Well, I have a utility which has a canopy on the back, so I set the microphone and tripod on the back of it which managed to get above the sound barriers and a nice recording of 1079 was to be had.  Now this spot was right next to a road, but it appeared to be nice and quiet.  As is always the recordistsí lot, something is bound to come along, but at least this time, it was after the train had passed, and it was also a vintage Triumph motorcycle which I think added a very nice classic period ambience to the whole recording.

                     (Click on the icon to listen  128kbs stereo 1.4MB 1 min 34 secs)

This next clip is the first public run of C17 974 on 4th March 2007 which had just completed an extensive overhaul.  After whistling for departure, we head off through the tunnel between Roma St and Central stations.  You can hear the sound change as we run through the enclosed confines of Central, then it changes again as we break out into the open area at the end of the platforms before heading into the second tunnel between Central and Brunswick St.  This is a bit of a speedway given the long straight within it and you can hear the train accelerate rapidly.  As we pass through, you can hear the roar of the sets of extractor fans before the engine is shut off.  The sound of the coasting engine just didnít sound right, and it turned out that the lubrication to the cylinders was significantly lacking, witht the result that the engine was taken out of service for a considerable period to fix the damage and fit a mechanical lubricator.

                     (Click on the icon to listen  64kbs stereo 1.8MB 3 min 58 secs)

For this last track, we are on train again, for a run up Exhibition bank and down to the terminus at Roma St.  Our loco, DD17 1051, makes very good progress up the hill and once we crest the grade at Normanby, the sounds of the train coasting into Roma St make for a change.  As we arrive, the dulcet tones of Greg Hallam, QRís Historian, can be heard over the station PA.  (3 June 2007)

                     (Click on the icon to listen  64kbs stereo 3.8MB 4 min 10 secs)

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