|Trains returned to the Dimboola to Rainbow branch line last week for the first time in around ten months.
The line was booked out of service for essential maintenance last June after the grain haulage task from the previous had been completed, and the extended period without traffic had led to some concerns as to the future of the line.
The most obvious aspect of the remedial works involved the replacement of some of the sleepers along the line and when this was completed the line was handed back to V/Line, the operator of the line, on 31 March.
The first service to travel the line after that was the ARTC AK Cars track recording train hauled by veteran locomotives GM10 and GM22 (below), which are in the distinctive yellow and black colours of Southern Shorthaul Railroad, on the morning of April 21, 2020.
Although looking like a passenger train, the AK cars train consists of a set of three specially equipped ex-New South Wales Government Railway carriages fitted out for track inspection and testing purposes. It is operated by the Australian Rail Track Corporation over their entire standard gauge mainline system twice per year and usually traverses the branch lines annually.
On this occasion, the train departed Dimboola just after 8.00 am and after travelling to Rainbow, returned in the early afternoon.
The first revenue train ran two days later when Qube Logistics utilised three of their former New South Wales locomotives to haul a rake of 41 grain hoppers to Rainbow for loading.
Due to the speed limit on the line the train departed Dimboola very early in the morning and returned well after dark (above).
Since then several more grain trains have loaded at Rainbow, following a similar routine.
The first train to operate on the Rainbow branch in 2020.