Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Snacks for Operating Sessions


I recently decided to sort through a box of railway paraphernalia I had collected over the years in-between modelling projects. I'm very glad I did. For among the stash of clutter I discovered a CountryLink on-board service guide that I had.... um, somehow obtained from a trip on the XPT from Brisbane to Grafton back in 2007. Travelers may be familiar with the type of fold-out buffet car menu and on-board safety guide I am talking about. This one is now almost a decade old, an inside is a picture of the CountryLink Xplorer in the same livery that now operates on Philden. This got me to thinking, 'what if I simulated the on-board menu selection when operating my Xplorer just for fun?'

Page 2 of the CountryLink on-board service guide for the Xplorer and XPT train services.

For those who are curious, I have carefully scanned each of the four fold-out pages for you to reminisce over. After all, following the demise of the CountryLink brand in June 2013, it is now a piece of railway history.

Page 3 of the CountryLink on-board service guide for the Xplorer and XPT train services.

Apart from the no-smoking and alcohol policies that place this guide in the modern era, it is interesting to see that an on-board Pay Phone was heralded as a feature. Phone cards could be purchased on-board from the buffet car. These days, every child from the ages 11 and up seems to be carrying their own personal mobile phones. But anyway, to the most important part of this amazing treasure find, the on-board menu.

The on-board menu for the CountryLink XPT and Xplorer Buffet Cars, 1989-2007.

Apart from the usual staples that you would expect to find on a train, the XPT and Xplorer offers some fine examples of Australian cuisine, such as the meat pie with sauce, Anzac biscuits and a Cornish pastie. Although it must be noted that the Cornish pastie was only available on the Canberra, Armidale and Moree Xplorers only, so all you unfortunate XPT travelers sadly miss out on this ravishing delicacy. There were a number of differences I noticed between the XPT and Xplorer menus that baffle me. Notably, raisin toast is only available on XPT trains, as is/was the selection of plain toast with a choice of jams. But the menu item that leaves me completely flabbergasted, was the snack pack with wine; available on Canberra Xplorer services only. Now I know that Canberra is the nation's capital, and home to our mightily esteemed politicians, but why is a well-deserving farmer catching a train to Narrabri unable to indulge in the afternoon pleasure of a Chardy with a slice of Coon cheese on a cracker? To me it seems a bit unfair, perhaps almost Un-Australian. So, if I am to play the part of a rivet-counter and stick to the particulars of prototypical model railway operations, then my whole model railway is going to have to be re-themed to portray the Canberra Line. Because there's no way that at 3.30 pm in the afternoon that I am going to run my Xplorer without a glass of wine in my hand!

And yes, my 2 car Xplorer does feature an on-board Buffet Car.


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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil