As the Footplate Padre I can attest so many things that happen early in the year sets the agenda for the ensuing twelve months, whether that be at school, university, the work place, the church, or in your personal relationships.
It was with this thought in mind that I returned to the past and in so doing, I challenged the future, within the Footplate Padre article for On Track Railway e-magazine in my regular column.
The diesel electric locomotive changed the railways for ever when they first began to grace the Australian railway network from Queensland all the way across the continent to Western Australia. The first impact of diesels in the 1950s was the disbursement of railway staff who were once required for the running of steam engines.
Whereas steam engines required regular stops to coal the tenders, which necessitated personnel to do the various tasks associated with this, diesels just sailed on by.
What interests me is to look at those early diesels in each State. Although the 'outward design' and the 'engine capacities' were a little different from each other, these diesels had two things in common; they improved the timetables of train running, and they improved the lot of both the passengers (the soot disappeared) and the crews (no more shovelling coal).
Queensland Railways bought in two quite different designs for their first main-line diesels; an 1100 Class hood design (like a steam engine, with a footplate around the outside); and a 1200 Class full nose streamline version. They both sported a blue and white livery.
New South Wales Government Railways chose a hooded 40 Class imported from Canada, which was quickly followed by GM's 42 Class streamline; and Australia's Goodwin Alco's streamline 44 Class, known as the World Series. These all sported a russet red livery with yellow and red trim, although the 40 class did originally had a green livery and the latter two were repainted blue for the 1954 Royal visit.
The Victorian Railways went exclusively with GM with the A, B and S streamline classes, all painted dark blue with yellow trim, in line with the Spirit of Progress carriage livery. They purchased a hood designed smaller diesels fleet for branch line work.
South Australia's diesels had a maroon and silver livery in line with the livery of the Overland passenger express which ran overnight between Adelaide and Melbourne. Their 900 and 901 (like NSW's 44) Classes served their State with distinction.
Western Australia and Tasmania settled for slightly less powered locomotives such as the WAGR X Class which were designed as flat ended, a design which became popular years later elsewhere.
These could be described as nostalgic notes of an era past, but in reality, they were the grand forerunners of today. They set the pace and the agenda.
As the Footplate Padre I cannot help but be reminded of his old trusted Thompson's chain reference King James Bible with its many favourite verses I’ve highlighted. There is something special about these things.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at