A week or so ago a ‘Friday Afternoon Pictures’ from Bob Wilson had a picture of the Cowra Mail taken on 28 January 1967. He asked if anyone had further information as to the working of it and this prompted a short period of research detailed below – The picture from the email is also below.
The photo consist of the ‘Cowra Mail’ photos looks like MLV, MCE, MCE, and probably the ACS, ACS and then an EHO on the rear (The photo is a bit small to double confirm the last two pass cars but they are more than likely to be the two ACS cars.)
I don’t have a 1967 timetable to hand but I do have a 1960 and a 1968 reprinted in 1971.
The November 1960 timetable has No. 61 (titled as the Relief Mail) running to Cowra only on days when required. It departed Sydney at 21:56. In the order of Western Line overnight Mails it was fourth in the list – the order being:
- 45 Coonamble Mail (MWF),
- 59 Through Mail (Tu, Th)
- 49 Forbes Mail (Mon Excepted)
- 61 Relief Mail to Cowra (as required)
- 63 Mudgee Mail (M-F)
- 59a Relief Mail to Dubbo (as required)
- 49a Relief Mail to Parkes (as required)
- 63a Relief Mail to Mudgee (as required)
The Cowra Line cars normally travelled to Blayney on No. 49 Forbes Mail and 12 minutes were allowed at Blayney for No. 49 to detach the cars.
When it ran No. 61’s timings were Lithgow (00:56), Bathurst (02:38-02:48), Blayney (04:13-04:20) and Cowra (06:20).
I have a May 1968 consist list which is reasonably close to the time of the photo.
There are no details as to the consist of the occasional ‘Relief Mail’ to Cowra presumably it ran on the really busy Friday evenings and the cars were whatever they could scrounge. The normal arrangements were:
Mondays – an EHO was attached from Sydney to No. 59 Mail to Dubbo (third car in the consist and shunted out of the train at Blayney. (The first and second cars (both MLV’s) went to Orange and Parkes. Presumably the EHO was attached to the mixed as the van.
On Tues to Fri and Sunday the cars were attached to No. 49 Forbes Mail.
Tues, Wed and Thurs had a through passenger car – an ACS (for Grenfell) and an MHO van that was detached at Blayney and attached to the Mixed.
Fridays had an MHO and two ACS cars attached ex-Sydney and detached at Blayney for the Mixed
The cars were all about the train through the week – On Monday the EHO on No. 59 ex-Sydney was third car from the front. On Tuesday and Thursday’s the MHO and ACS were two and three from the front. On Wednesday’s the ACS and MHO were two and three from the front while on Friday’s the ACS, ACS, MHO were the last three cars on the train (6,7 and 8th car on the train
By 1971 the ‘Cowra Mail’ had disappeared from the table and there was only a mixed train that connected with the mail at Blayney. On Tuesday’s it was No. 278 and connected with No. 59 Mail and departed Blayney at 04:10 arriving Cowra at 06:23. The train continued on to Grenfell at 07:30 arriving at the terminus at 10:54. It crossed No. 132 (a goods that travelled from Harden to Blayney) at Cowra.
On every other day (yes it had a seven day a week service) it connected with No. 49 Mail at Blayney and departed there as No. 29 at 04:40, arriving at Cowra at 06:56, crossing No. 86a (Diesel Multiple Unit Pass 06:10 ex Cowra which attached to DMU from Orange at Blayney) at Woodstock and No. 132 at Cowra, It departed Cowra at 07:30 arriving at Grenfell at 10:07. The difference in the Grenfell arrival time was because on Tuesday’s the train was allowed 34 minutes to shunt the sidings between Greenthorpe and Grenfell where as on any other day it was only allowed 6 minutes.
Interestingly the 1980 consist list has W249, the ‘Orange Overnight Parcels’ (departing Sydney at 20:38 has an LLV for Cowra on Monday’s, MLV for Cowra on Tues, Wed and a LLV on Friday’s. There were no through passenger cars by this time and you connected at Blayney off W59, the Western Mail (21:55 ex Sydney).