A blog outlining the construction of the 'Gladstone Yard' in HOn3 ½

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Brief History

Gladstone is located on the busy North Coast Line between Brisbane and Rockhampton. It services branch lines such as the Calliope/Monto Branch Line, Biloela Line, and the Moura Short Line. For years Gladstone has been a major rail hub for the Queensland Railways. The growth of the railway in this area has been the result of the large quantity of export coal arriving from the Moura and Blackwater Systems. This coal is deposited at local ports such as Barney Point and Clinton and also the Gladstone Powerhouse and QAL.

3516 and a 3600 head past the Callemondah Wagon Shops
with a loaded 100 car to the Clinton Wharf

Gladstone was once rated to be in the top 10 Rail Photography spots in Australia due to the volume and variety of traffic in the area. Such traffic consisted of passenger, coal and minerals, general freight, chemicals, woodchip, grain, cattle, work trains, local shunts and heritage services.
Through time passenger services consisted of The Capricornian, The Milklander, The Spirit of Capricorn, The Sunlander, The Queenslander, The Spirit of the Tropics, The Spirit of the Outback, The Daylight Sunshine Rail Experience and both the electric and diesel Tilt Trains. Other services such as Troop trains and the Great South Pacific would run ‘around the back’ of Gladstone (through the deviation).

Freight was seen in town during six days of the week. It was very rare that a freight service would run into town on a Sunday but freight could be seen on a daily basis along the deviation section running between Brisbane and Rockhampton. Over time container traffic took over majority of the services but there were still plenty of mixed freight services running into town. Gladstone also produced (and still does) originating services which usually left late in the afternoons to destinations north and west. The most enjoyable service to watch was the Monto Train and the Brisbane to Gladstone/Rockhampton goods namely 7367 which was led for a period of time by one or two 1720’s.  

During the grain season Gladstone Yard and Auckland Point would be over flowing with grain trains. These services would originate from various points west. Some grain services would run directly to the port of Brisbane. A grain shunt would be employed during peak grain periods. This shunt was one of six shunts running around the Gladstone area.

 Class leader 1502 on the Mt. Miller Shunt departs for Mt. Miller 
while 1735 is over the hill on the Jetty Shunt
For a number of years the local Heritage group (part of Queensland Rail) would run services to such areas as Monto, Bororen and Rockhampton. Usually a yearly steam service would reach Gladstone operated by either Queensland Rail or a private historic operator. These steam events would always fill the station platform with people of various age groups.
My father worked in the railway in Gladstone and I was often able to go to work with him on the weekends. During these times my knowledge in the basic operating of the railway grew. My favourite memories would have been the cab rides, in particular driving the South Gladstone Shunt  to the unloader with sixty wagons loaded with coal in tow.

It has been a dream to model Gladstone since I was a child and now with RTR QR products on the door step, what better time to start. A big congrats to the new players on the market that have taken a big risk (which I feel will pay off) for QR modellers. The current suppliers shouldn’t be forgotten about either as they have paved the way for today’s modelling of the Queensland Rail system.  

The general plan (at this stage) is to complete two yards. The first being Gladstone and the other being a small station situated between Gladstone and Rocklands (Rockhampton). I am yet to go through my yard diagrams to see what is feasible. These two yards will be constructed in a way that will enable one or the other to appear at exhibitions. The main lines between both yards will be lengthy and will only be a permanent feature to the layout room.

The layout will be planned to reflect the prototypical running of trains in the Gladstone area. This will make for a challenging and entertaining running sessions and will create the realism of operating the Gladstone Yard. It will accommodate six operators and consist of single and double main lines with passing loops available on the single. A signal panel will also be part of the grand design and will require a full time operator. NCE products will be sourced for DCC operations. Sound will be added to the locomotives but a brand will be determined when some of the new locomotives arrive.

The modelling period will be between the years 1990-2010. This period will cover three liveries and will reflect the final years of the government railway before it was sold off. There were very little changes in the Gladstone Yard during this time but the yard itself will be constructed to reflect the early 90’s. During this time the wagon workshops were operating and the barracks were still standing opposite the cabin.

All work involving the construction of this layout will be added to the blog so that I can share my experience with others who enjoy this wonderful hobby. So please join in the experience with me and enjoy reading the progress of ‘Gladstone Yard’.

A loaded 60 car coal train heads to the unloader at Clinton

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