Saturday, 23 July 2016

Singleton: The 04:31 to Scone

There are a million places I would rather be than standing at Singleton Railway Station at 4:31 am on a freezing Hunter Valley morning in the middle of winter. So as I count down to my 100th and final Railway Reminiscing post, let me tell you the tale of the 04:31 to Scone.

This rushed shot makes the destination board look like the train is going to cone instead of Scone. Taken at Singleton Station in May 2016.

Just an hour into our trip home from a recent holiday, I decided to turn off the highway to see what was happening at Singleton Railway Station. An early morning Hunter Railcar service ex Hamilton Station in Newcastle was due in at Singleton at 04:31 am. But thanks to Tom, (the GPS unit on my dashboard) the direction he mapped coming from the east to reach Singleton Railway Station took me on a pre-dawn tour of every one way street and lane way in town. Complete with speed bumps and having to dodge parked cars and wheelie bins that were lined along the roadside for the garbage man to collect, I arrived at Singleton Station just in time to step onto the platform and see the 04:31 to Scone pull into the station.

Having only a split second to aim the camera and shoot wasn't exactly what I had in mind when hoping to collect a shot for my book 30 Years Chasing Trains, but it did leave me feeling sorry for the two young chaps that had been waiting to board the train. They looked rugged-up enough to be headed to the snowfields, when the truth was they were probably just on their way to work. Waiting for the train in 3 degree temperatures was likely just a part of their weekday routine. I do however have to give them credit for doing their best to avoid being in my photo. I can only imagine what the sight of me leaping excitedly through the waiting room door armed with a camera and yelling "it's here" to my wife, (like she would have cared on account of the cold anyway), would have done to startle the young blokes as they waited for the train. Maybe now I can get a job working as a Paparazzi. It seems I have already mastered the art of stalking up on someone, frightening the living daylights out of them and then capturing the moment on film. So to whomever you are guys, I'm sorry. I had no idea anyone was there.

This timeless night time scene was captured from the platform of Singleton Railway Station in May 2016.

So with my wife having abandoned me for the warmth of the car, (maybe on account of the cold, maybe on account of being embarrassed to be seen with me), suddenly I was all alone on the platform at Singleton Station at 04:33 am. With the 2 car Hunter railcar set now trundling off into the darkness towards its destination of Scone, I adjusted the camera to take the above shot in black and white. In all the years I've been chasing trains and taking photos, I have to admit that there's no more lonely a feeling that you can capture than an empty railway station platform in the moments after the train has departed.

Singleton Railway Station slumbering in the wee hours of the morning, May 2016.

Walking quickly back to the warmth of our car, where the engine was now running and you could almost hear the air-conditioning fan blowing hot air at top speed, I turned to take one final photo of Singleton Railway Station. Who knows when, or if for that matter, I will ever find myself in Singleton again? A few moments later, (this time choosing to ignore TomTom and simply following the street signs), we drove slowly along the sleeping main street through Singleton and were soon back on the New England Highway once more.

See also; Muswellbrook: Chasing those 5am coalies

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