Cooma Monaro Railway

Just Another Day

If you have not been to the railway in other than the summertime, you are missing out on seeing it operating in conditions which, whilst increasing the difficulties involved, often add a particular beauty to the scene. One of these conditions is fog.

Having missed out on attending the Easter and Mother's Day outings, I was determined to get to Cooma for the June long weekend - the last opportunity before we go onto winter schedule. What I experienced was three days dominated by fog, cold and kangaroos! But I loved every minute of it. Allow me to take you through a photographic sequence to illustrate a typical day.

Around about 9.30 in the morning, we set out for the shed under a blanket of fog.

All of the weeds and grasses were ice tipped, and near the shed and District Loco Engineer's house, the heavier vegetation left no doubt that winter was very much with us.

Everywhere you looked, it was the same story, but beautiful to behold if you could forget the cold for a moment. (These photos were taken on the Monday, when the fog was much less in evidence than on the previous two days).

Preparing the railmotor for service was more difficult than usual, as the mass of cold metal left fingers feeling numb. (Of course, you could use gloves, but some of the prep tasks require dexterity hard to achieve with gloves on). And so number 22 was extracted from the shed, to pose alongside the pay bus while the shed doors are closed behind it.

Driving over to the platform, you are presented with a view that is quite different from the one experienced in clear conditions. The fog, as it so often does everywhere, makes it all seem a little bit mysterious.

That feeling of a degree of intrigue is even more enhanced entering the platform from the south.

Having arrived at the platform, you are left to wonder how much of the scenery around the line we will be able to see on the way to Chakola.

Even the Barracks' normally mundane exterior becomes more interesting with the fog around it and providing a backdrop.

By the time the 11am service sets off for Chakola, the fog has lifted somewhat and visibility around us is considerably better.

And it is good that we can see our surroundings clearly, as we can soon point out to the passengers the wildlife along the way, including the most kangaroos that I have ever seen visible from the train - up to 12 of them noted throughout the journey.

After a smooth run across the valley floor, we arrive at Chakola platform under a weak sun. The fog and mist still hangs around the hills on the other side of the valley.

By the time we have returned to Cooma, the fog has lifted entirely and the ice has melted from the plants, and without the pesky breeze that often blows down the length of the platform, the day becomes quite a nice one indeed.

After 3 days of such trips, with a lot of happy passengers, I was glad that I had made the effort to get down from Sydney for the occasion.

Phil O'

A Volunteer's Story


Rob McCutcheon is a CMR volunteer, who wrote this summary of a three day weekend on duty at the railway.  He has recorded the events that took place over the course of the three days.  (Now one should note that Rob is one of our engine repair/maintenance men, as a result of experience gained from running his own bus company, so his weekend may be a little different to the usual volunteer’s experience).  Our thanks go to Rob for sharing his story with us.

Rob in the driver's seat 
(Photo: John Gibson)

‘I arrived at CMR about 11am on Friday and checked into the barracks for a three day stay. After unpacking and having a bite to eat, I then went over to the signal box to sign on and to check the notice board for latest operational information. I noted that due to the very hot weather, speed restrictions were in place on one section of the line due to possible kinks in the rails.

 Now it was time to head down to the engine shed to see what needed doing. A look through the rollingstock logbooks revealed that CPH 22 was about due for a 25 hour service. The unit was" prepped" and driven out of the shed to the outside pit for underside inspection. Four brake shoes were replaced, brakes adjusted, fan belts re-tensioned and a minor leaking fuel line connection tightened.  An adjustment was made to the engine-idle speed, a test drive was undertaken within the yard, the necessary paperwork was completed and #22 was ready to earn her keep once again.

5 pm - time for a cleanup and a refreshing shower back at the barracks. At 5-30pm, Peter and Tracey Lawrence arrive for the weekend. We then head down to the Services Club for a welcome meal. Around 8pm we call in on our Operations Manager, John Wynes and his lovely wife Jean, and enjoy a cool drink and a chat on their front verandah. By 10.30pm it’s time to turn in for the night.

 Saturday morning, a 7am breakfast, then down to the engine shed.  Pete and I prepare CPH 6 for Saturday duty and park her at the platform by 10am.  Our very capable Christa is looking after the booking office today and brightens our morning with generous servings of raisin toast with tea and coffee.  Passengers are now arriving and at 11am I drive # 6 to Chakola with Pete as guard.  Here we swap jobs and Pete returns to Cooma with our happy passengers.  No passengers arrive for the 1pm service to Bunyan, so we give the railmotor a well deserved clean. On the 2pm service, Tracey is our smiling driver as we take more passengers to Chakola with Pete as guard.  Back to Cooma on the final run of the day, myself driving and Tracey as guard.

CPH 6 stands at Chakola Platform  
(Photo: John Gibson)

 On the long climb out of Bunyan # 6 seems to be down on power, but we make it back to Cooma.  The motor is sounding a bit rough and the exhaust is smoking.  We think it could be a fuel problem. We decide that we will investigate early tomorrow morning as we have other commitments pending.

At 4.30pm,  Pete and I swap # 6 for # 22.  Pete has borrowed an extension chainsaw and we head off to prune the encroaching vegetation which threatens to scratch the sides of our railmotors. This job completed, we return our railmotor to the engine shed and all is locked up for the night by 7pm.  Off to the barracks for a shower, on to the club for dinner and we are back in our beds by 10pm.

Sunday morning breakfast is at 6am, thence we go down to the engine shed and start # 6 up. It is still misfiring, so we remove the engine rocker cover and check the injectors.  #3 is not working.  We remove the injector and discover a broken control rod.  As the injector will need to be dismantled the decision is made to send it away for repairs.


Rob (left) and Peter (right) have formed a formidable maintenance team.

 In the meantime, Tracey has prepared CPH 22 to work Sunday's roster and has it alongside the platform by 9-45am.  No passengers show up for the 11am trip, so we do some cleaning and tidying up in the engine shed, show a visitor around and then have a lunch break.  At 1pm and we have almost a full load of passengers for Bunyan, crewed by Pete and Tracey.  I elect to do road/rail crossing duty for this trip.  At 2pm and we have passengers for Chakola.  Pete drives out, Tracy as guard and myself as passenger.  It's my turn to drive back to Cooma, where we farewell our final passengers for the day and return our railmotor to the engine shed. There’s time for a cuppa and a yarn and then it's back in the car for the 2 hour drive home.’

Photo: John Gibson)

One thing that readily becomes apparent in Rob's account is the spirit of camaraderie that exists within the organisation.  Duties are shared around all members who are on duty at the time (providing of course that they are qualified to perform them). 

It’s good for CMR that Rob and Peter were there when 6 had its little problem. Whilst it did not threaten our continuing operations, the fast analysis and treatment of the problem means minimum downtime for number 6. 


A Day in the Life

The selection of photos that follow show operations that can and do occur very frequently throughout the year. But whilst they may be 'just another day' to the railway, we are well aware that  they are 'new' and special occasions to most of our passengers.  That is why we make every endeavour to ensure that each and every trip is an enjoyable one for those who travel with us.

The next two photos depict a group departure from Cooma on a day when trailer car 55, though not in use, was brought over to the main platform on display, so that people could appreciate its unique dining/lounge car configuration.


(photo: John van Voorst)


The next two photos show changeovers at Bunyan (our half way station) on the days when we run a shuttle operation, with one train running from Cooma to Bunyan and the other from Bunyan to Chakola at the end of CMR's 20 kilometre run.  The siding at Bunyan (to the left in these pictures) allows passengers to swap trains mid trip, all part of the fun.



Our final shot is taken at Chakola, where CPH 22 waits patiently for a group that will join it shortly from the nearby hall. CMR makes the hall available to a wide range of groups as the venue for many an enjoyable gathering.


Refer to our Group Tours page if you have an upcoming function that would benefit from the unique CMR experience.


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