I like to keep running my trains fun. Yet even once my removable staging comes online later this year, I'll only have around 9 feet of line to simulate trains coming and going on my bookshelf layout. So how do you keep operations fun? Well, I'll reveal a little bit of my nerdy side here, only if you promise not to tell anyone.
|First-up I'm heading west, on the CountryLink Broken Hill Outback Xplorer.|
The other part I love about model trains is collecting railway timetables. So with my circa 1993-2007 CountryLink Xplorer now here to stay, I pulled out my set of 2003 CountryLink timetables and created my own fun. Simply by simulating station stops at Philden from the pages of the timetable for each up-and-back movement on my layout. Beginning with the Western timetable, my 2 car Xplorer set had to cover for what is normally a 3 car train on the Broken Hill Outback Xplorer. In this instance, Philden becomes both Sydney's Central Station, and every other station the Xplorer is scheduled to stop at between Sydney and Broken Hill.
|Out west, all the stations are starting to look the same.|
It sounds simple. Perhaps a little too simple. But running a train up-and-back all afternoon on a bookshelf layout, can in time become a little boring. By pretending that the Mondays only CountryLink service 445 due for a 6.20 am departure from Central Station is scheduled to stop at; Strathfield, Parramatta, Penrith, Katoomba, Lithgow, Bathurst, Blayney, Orange, Parkes, Condobolin, Euabalong West, Ivanhoe, Darnick and Menindee before arriving in the outback city of Broken Hill at 7.10 pm Central Standard Time, I give my highly detailed plastic model a sense of purpose and occasion each time it comes to a stop alongside the station building at Philden. And then there is the matter of returning the train to Sydney once more.
|Next I head south....|
Once back at Sydney's Central Station, there is just enough time for me to go to the toilet, grab a fresh cup of coffee and perhaps a light snack before taking out my CountryLink Southern timetable and boarding CountryLink service 621, the Canberra Xplorer.
|....to the Nation's Capital of Canberra.|
The daily 12.14 pm midday departure from Central Station will see my 2 car Xplorer stop at; Strathfield, Campbelltown, Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Bundanoon, Goulburn, Tarago, Bugendore and Queanbeyan before arriving in the Nation's Capital of Canberra at 4.20 pm.
|Along the way I meet my fair share of passing freight trains and connecting road coaches.|
On the return 5.15 pm evening service 624 to Sydney, I may even catch a glimpse of my 82 class locomotive shunting the cement works at Philden, or should that read Boral's Maldon cement works. I can never be sure as Philden is simply located 'somewhere in New South Wales at a railway station far, far away...' That's just the beauty of having a fictional model railway.
|Changing trains, I'm now headed north west....|
Back at Sydney's central station once more at 9.26 pm after my trip to Canberra, I may decide to call it a night, or board the other Southern timetabled Xplorer service, the Saturdays only Griffith Xplorer. I choose instead to stretch my legs around Central Station's grand concourse and once more grab a cup of coffee before pulling out my CountryLink North West timetable and boarding the combined daily 10.05 am service 223/225 to Armidale and Moree.
|....on the Xplorer to Armidale.|
This service operates as two Xplorer sets coupled together before dividing at Werris Creek. Today I am taking the 223 service to Armidale. After leaving Sydney's Central Station at 10.05 am, the train stops at; Strathfield, Hornsby, Gosford, Wyong, Fassifern, Broadmeadow, Maitland, Singleton, Muswellbrook, Aberdeen, Scone, Murrurundi, Willow Tree and Quirindi before reaching Werris Creek at 3.34 pm. Here the train divides in two with usually a 2 car set operating to Moree, and a 3 to 5 car set depending on passenger bookings to Armidale. For some reason or other, the authorities today have only rostered a 2 car set to Armidale. Leaving Werris Creek, service 223 continues stopping at; Tamworth, Kootingal, Walcha Road and Uralla before arriving at Armidale at 6.19 pm.
|And finally the waiting road coach will take me back home to Queensland.|
By this time, I've had just about all the fun I can handle for one day. The return 224 service to Sydney isn't timetabled to return until the next morning at 9.00 am, and it will be 5.00 pm before it arrives back at Sydney's Central Station. So I leave the train at Armidale and board one of the waiting road coaches, in my case, a fictitious connecting Deluxe Coachlines service to Brisbane that will take me home to sunny Queensland, (will someone please make a CountryLink road coach?).
So there you have it. That's how I came up with the name the South NorthWestern Xplorer for my layout. The train bloody-well runs everywhere! And for a small layout where you can easily tire of running a train back-and-forth, being a geek and running my Xplorer to an actual CountryLink timetable prolongs the fun just that little bit longer. Now next time if I board the train in Armidale, I wonder if I'll simply head all the way to Griffith?
See also; CountryLink resumes Philden services