Tag Archives: Goolwa

SteamRanger Cockle Train (Revisited)

Back in March I posted a photo essay of the SteamRanger historic railway featuring photos of the largest of the steam engines currently in service, the Duke of Edinburgh.  You can find that post here.

SteamRanger is a volunteer run society operating a number of tourist railway services on the now isolated Mt Barker to Victor Harbor broad gauge line. The Cockle Train service runs along the Goolwa to Victor Harbor section of the track, along the edge of the Southern Ocean, for a distance of around 12 miles. Cockles, a local shellfish prolific near the mouth of the Murray River, provide the name for this service that runs regularly on weekends and school holidays. This section of line is the oldest in South Australia and was established in 1854 as a horse drawn railway to move freight from Goolwa (the lowest river port on the Murray-Darling river system) to nearby ocean ports (initially Port Elliott and later Victor Harbor). The railway allowed the mouth of the Murray River to be bypassed as it was unsafe for navigation, being shallow and directly facing the treacherous Southern Ocean swell.  The line was rebuilt for steam in 1856.

A number of different rolling stock units are used to operate the service. Last weekend I drove down to Goolwa and followed the Sunday morning train from Goolwa to Victor Harbor and back.   This service was operated by a former South Australian Railways 500 class diesel locomotive, No 507.

The 500 class was introduced in the 1960’s as shunters in marshalling yards across the State, replacing steam locomotives used to that time.  Ultimately, as trains became longer and heavier, they became obsolete.  Most were scrapped in the 1990’s, but a few remain in service.  I can recall seeing these locos working in Adelaide’s Mile End good yards in the 1960’s and 70’s, along with the last few steam tank engines.

The 500 class was built locally at South Australian Railways’ Islington workshop.  They were diesel-electric with English Electric 500hp motors, and a mix of standard and broad gauge examples were produced.  SteamRanger uses No 507 to run the the Cockle Train on quieter services where the cost of running steam is too high.

We commence the pictures at Goolwa station shortly before the train set off for Victor Harbor.
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