Sunday History Photo / SA

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 08:37
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Pichi Richi Railway is an operating museum, operating regular heritage train journeys on the oldest remaining section of the famous narrow-gauge old Ghan railway.
Pichi Richi Railway is located at Quorn, in South Australia's Flinders Ranges. Trains depart from Quorn and Port Augusta. The railway is operated, maintained and managed by the dedicated volunteers of the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society Inc.
The railway from Port Augusta through the Pichi Richi Pass to Quorn opened in 1879, and was part of the first stage of the Great Northern Railway that was intended to link Port Augusta with Darwin. The Ghan name originated in Quorn in 1923 when the Great Northern Express was dubbed The Afghan Express by railwaymen. In 1929 this line reached Alice Springs.
The East-West Transcontinental railway across the Nullarbor Plain was completed in 1917, and the Pichi Richi Railway became part of the East-West route for the next 20 years.

Quorn was a vital railway junction, especially during World War II when military, coal and other traffic placed sizeable demands on the railway.
Washaways in the north and the incapacity of the railway to handle expanding traffic saw a new standard-gauge railway constructed from Stirling North to Brachina, and the Pichi Richi Railway was closed to regular traffic in 1957.
The Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society (PRRPS) is a non-profit railway preservation society and operating museum formed in 1973. The society, managed and staffed by volunteer members, operates heritage steam and diesel trains on the restored 39 km section of track between Quorn and Port Augusta in South Australia. This railway line, constructed in 1878 as part of the South Australian Railways Port Augusta and Government Gums Railway, once formed a part of the former Central Australia Railway and east-west Transcontinental line, and is the oldest remaining section of track of the former narrow gauge Ghan. It is now the only operational section of the Central Australia Railway.

PRRPS bases its operations in Quorn (on the site of the old locomotive depot) and runs through the Pichi Richi Pass to Woolshed Flat and Port Augusta, and also operates out of Port Augusta to Quorn. The volunteer organisation has fully restored a fleet of South Australian Railways (SAR), Commonwealth Railways (CR) and Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) steam and diesel locomotives, passenger and freight rolling stock. The society has progressively restored the railway to Summit (1974) (elevation 406m ), Pichi Richi (1974) (elevation 344m), Woolshed Flat (1979) (elevation 269m) and Stirling North (1999) on the original alignment, and to Port Augusta (2001) on a new alignment between Stirling North and Port Augusta.
Pichi Richi is the name of the pass through which the railway travels, and is also the name of the former township located in the pass, after which the society is named. The name Pichi Richi is believed to come from the Australian native plant pituri, which was traditionally chewed by Australian Aborigines.
The Afghan Express is a return trip to Quorn from Port Augusta (78 kilometres return). This train usually consists of Ghan carriages from the 1920s and is often hauled, wherever possible, by an original Ghan steam locomotive, NM25, and recreates the type of travel experienced on the Ghan in the 1930s and 1940s.
Quorn Railway Station, now used by PRRPS as a shop, ticket office, etc. A shorter journey, the Pichi Richi Explorer, is a return service to Woolshed Flat departing from Quorn (32 kilometres return). Travel on this train is either in South Australian Railway carriages circa 1900 to 1915 hauled by a steam locomotive, or in a 1928 SAR diesel railcar. The use of older SAR rollingstock on this train replicates what it was like to travel by country rail in South Australia in the very early 1900s to the 1960s. Much of this rolling stock was in service until the end of narrow gauge passenger operations by the South Australian Railways.

Former CR steam locomotive NM25 was built in 1925 and was used on the narrow gauge train line between Port Augusta and Alice Springs. It is one of only two surviving examples of this class of steam locomotive. NM25 had remained static from 1965 until 1989, when PRRPS acquired it with the intention of restoring it to operational condition. NM25 remained out of service at the PRRPS Quorn workshops until rebuilding commenced in 2000, as a part of the Pichi Richi Railway Development Plan stage 2. The overhaul took 3 years to complete, which included fabrication of almost all new parts including cylinders, frame, smoke box and tender, as well as significant repairs to the boiler. The locomotive was officially recommissioned on 26 April 2003
During the Commonwealth Railways era (from 1937 to 1957), the train line between Stirling North and Port Augusta was dual gauge. Narrow gauge served the line to Quorn and the standard gauge, which branched at Stirling North, was for the line to Port Pirie and also to Marree. The standard gauge to Marree was built in the 1950s on a new route west of the Pichi Richi Pass, with the purpose of bypassing the narrow gauge section of the Central Australian Railway to Marree, through Quorn and Hawker. The narrow gauge component of the section dual gauge track between Stirling North and Port Augusta was removed once the standard gauge line to Marree was in full operation, and the narrow gauge route from Hawker to Marree had been closed and removed. This meant that the remaining narrow gauge line from Stirling North to Hawker via Quorn was now isolated. On the occasions that a narrow gauge train needed to travel to Port Augusta or to Marree, the train would need to utilise a "piggy back" system. This arrangement saw the entire narrow gauge train loaded on top of a standard gauge train of flatcars and transported via standard gauge, then unloaded at the destination on to the existing narrow gauge.

The first stage of returning narrow gauge train services to Port Augusta was the completion of 16 km of track rehabilitation between Woolshed Flat and Stirling North. This work included the complete replacement of sleepers and rail, re-timbering of several bridges and the construction of a turning triangle at Stirling North. Part of the $1.35 million Pichi Richi Railway Development Plan project, it was completed in 1999. The extension was opened on 24 October 1999 by Tim Fischer, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.
It was announced in 2000 that funding was available through the State Government of South Australia, and the Port Augusta City Council to extend the train line from Stirling North in to Port Augusta railway station. However there were significant works required for to complete this project.

Pichi Richi Railway is pleased to again be re-enacting a narrow gauge troop train for Great Southern Rail's 2014 ANZAC Tribute Journey.
Seats on this special train are available to the public only for a one way journey from Quorn to Port Augusta departing at 2:30pm.

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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 12:20

Sunday, Apr 13, 2014 at 12:20
Thanks Doug, i must take Darling over there some time for a look and a ride.

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Reply By: Member - Tony H (touring oz) - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:47

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 08:47
The last photo of the 'troop train' .... is that one of Tom Kruse's trucks directly behind the loco?
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 10:28

Monday, Apr 14, 2014 at 10:28
Your very observant, I think you could be right.
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