This is a long-awaited project undertaken by John Holland Rail’s overhead crew; completing a task that was started when the National Park line was re-opened in 1993.
When converting the former railway line for tramway use, the overhead was hastily reassembled to allow trolley pole equipped trams to use the line. As a trolley pole can track a wire quite badly off centre, most of the pull-off installation was skipped for expediency. It was always intended to go back and finish the job, however as the line was perfectly fine for trolley pole operation this was a low priority.
Upon the arrival of SLR 2017 however, we needed to finally address this and make the overhead pantograph compatible. While several of the museum’s foreign cars also were pantograph cars, two had been converted to pole operation. Converting a vehicle such as 2107 would not be historically appropriate so it was decided to finally make the museum ‘dual-mode’ compatible as originally planned for maximum flexibility.
The job was too big and would have taken too long with volunteer labour, so John Holland Rail was approached to do the job over a 3 day period. In October 2020, the John Hollands crew visited the museum, and working with our overhead supervisor, collected up the necessary pull off parts the museum had stockpiled, assembled and then installed them along the line, using their appropriate works vehicles.
Postscript – 16th October 2020
A walk along the line shows the completed works, with the overhead finally centred under the track; resulting in much less stress on trolley pole mounted trams and the eventual ability for pantograph cars operate to the Royal National Park.
Further pull off replacement – March 2022
Prior to John Holland’s work, only one curve on the line had pull offs installed, using traditional Sydney-style ears that allowed only for trolley pole mounted trams. Some of these had deteriorated due to their age and as such, the opportunity was taken recently to replace the offending pull offs with modern pantograph-compatible types as installed along the rest of the line. Eventually every traditional Sydney-style pull off on this curve will be replaced, allowing pantograph mounted trams to traverse the entire national park line.