The Footplate Padre tells the story from the days of steam when two locomotives crashed near Murrurrundi. This is told in more detail in my book "Footplate Yarns of Old".
To explain this story - it is not easy to view the track ahead from a steam engine cabin with its long boiler nose - where as it is easier from a diesel engine cabin. Steam engines indeed have a very long nose where the boiler mechanisms sit, and therefore the driver and fireman both need to be keeping a lookout, often poking their heads out of the side windows.
Diesels on the most part, however, have flat, shot nose or round nosed cabins where both the driver and fireman have clear views ahead.
Railwayman's jargon is important too: Loco is the term for the locomotive depot, and Traffic is the term for lines outside the depot. Running into Traffic therefore means that a locomotive is running from the depot into the traffic-controlled sections of line.
When returning, a train pulls up in the shunting yard, the engine is detached and heads to Loco.
A Bung is a 'please explain' letter.
At Murrurundi Loco there were seven rail lines that converged into one, in order to cross a small bridge right before the engines came into Traffic control. On one occasion, Jim Day, a driver was taking a steam engine out of Loco and was heading down towards this convergence of lines towards this small bridge.
Meanwhile, driver Alex McKenzie on another steam locomotive was running from the station area towards Loco and also towards this small bridge. Neither one saw the other and there was a mighty crash as the engines met on the Loco side of the small bridge at a converging set of points.
Both steam locomotives were derailed and badly damaged, and the fireman of one of them was thrown out of the cabin and landed on the lawns of the District Locomotive Engineer's office, sustaining some fractured ribs.
‘Bungs’ were sent to everyone.
The incoming driver (Alex) wrote that he was not looking out as he was attending to the lubricator, which is a necessary task for any driver bringing a locomotive into Loco. Both firemen explained they were attending to the fires, one was putting on a fire (the departing Locomotive) and one was cleaning the fire (the incoming Locomotive).
Jim, the outgoing driver, was more blunt. In his reply and he wrote: "There were four men on two engines, none of whom were looking out".
Somehow Jim was the only one of the four not to receive some form of punishment.
As the Footplate Padre, I am constantly amazed as how truth sets one free, as Jesus said (John chapter 8 verse 32) and has far fewer complications than lies or excuses. As soon as a lie is told, other lies need to be added to find ways and means to back up the original lie. Oh, what tangled lives we weave.
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.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html