Paul’s yellow loco is the perfect present

PAUL Jones received a very nice gift the other day. Silver and yellow, a handsome piece of work, something they knew he’d appreciate. And a gift so large it needed a special truck, trailer and multiple cranes to leave it at his place in New Norfolk. “But she’s wonderful,” he said. “A worthy addition to what we’re doing here at the Derwent Valley Railway.”

Moving this special present – a massive diesel-electric locomotive – to New Norfolk took a good deal of time to organise. “Originally built at their Launceston facility about 60 years ago, she’s one of a couple TasRail had no use for any more,” he notes. “And so they were distributed to railways like ours around Tasmania.”

The main problem for such a train, ironically, is transport. It needed to be moved by road, and the 32-wheeler truck-drawn trailer had to come from Melbourne. Then a pair of massive cranes were needed to pick up the loco and put her on the rails in the New Norfolk yard. It’s also surprising that Paul Jones is here as well.

“My dad worked for the railways,” he recalls, but then emphasises: “I am not a railway man. As a young man, I even did some work as a relief porter, which made me determined to not to follow in his footsteps.” Yet today, Paul Jones finds himself chair of the Derwent Valley Railway.

It was where he came after a long career at the ATO, working in the investigations section. “She’s 68 tonnes, 13.1m long and 2.7 wide,” he said about the recent yellow-and-silver gift. “The ‘new’ loco – well, she’s new to us – is currently undergoing an assessment,” he said. “Because she hasn’t run for 18 months.”

A spare engine came with the loco that might prove useful. He’s similarly precise about the railway track to Mt Field National Park, the ultimate destination for tourist trains from the DVR station. The job will need 29,975 sleepers for the section to Mt Field, he says. And he knows to the tonne how much ballast (the gravel that provides a bed for rail lines) will be needed for the the railway tracks.

So when Paul Jones says the rail line work will take six months, and the Derwent Valley Railway will be operating visitor trips in that time – albeit short ones – you can be sure he’s got it right. “We’re on track for the summer,” he said. You better believe it.