11 May 2023

Much excitement as steam locomotive returns to Cooma

| Gail Eastaway
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Steam locomotive 3203

Steam Locomotive 3203 has returned to Cooma Railway Station. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

Cooma Monaro Railway (CMR) has taken receipt of the first steam locomotive engine to stop at Cooma for 30 years.

NSW Railways Steam Locomotive 3203 arrived at its new home in Cooma on Wednesday, 10 May.

This individual locomotive was last in action in Cooma in 1973.

It was cosmetically restored at Broadmeadow by Transport Heritage NSW volunteers.

The locomotive was transported by road from Broadmeadow to Cooma where it was carefully unloaded by crane and shunted into its temporary storage shelter on Goods Road No. 3, on the eastern side of the goods shed in the Cooma yard.

CMR volunteers had made several preparations for the arrival which included the establishment of an access path to allow visitors to the Cooma Monaro Railway Museum to view the locomotive up close.

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These paths will also be extended to the loco shed, providing visitors with access to the fleet of CPH Railmotors.

CMR president Gordon Strachan said, “This is the first time a steam locomotive has graced these tracks for almost 35 years, and we are really excited to see this beautiful piece of railway heritage make its way down to its new home in Cooma.

“We would like to thank the NSW Government, Transport for NSW and Transport Heritage NSW for their continued support in developing heritage railways in NSW.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers from Transport Heritage NSW and Cooma Monaro Railway, who have worked so hard to make this possible, from its restoration in Broadmeadow to replacement of sleepers in sidings at Cooma and construction of its temporary shelter.

“It’s exciting times for the future of heritage railway in the Monaro and we will have more big announcements coming soon. Stay tuned!” he said.

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Cooma Railway was an important part of the local community and economy for nearly 100 years.

Cooma station and its railway link from Queanbeyan NSW was completed in 1889, with the southern extension to Bombala completed in the early 1920s.

As the gateway to the Snowy Mountains area, Cooma was a key Monaro destination for almost 100 years of rail services, until the line from Canberra was closed by flood damage to the bridge over the Numeralla River in 1989.

For 10 years there were no trains to be seen in the Monaro area, until CMR commenced operations in December 1998.

Services were run by CPH-class railmotors, of which CMR has three (CPH 6, 8 and 22). They also have CTC 55, which is a matching carriage to the CPH class with a driver’s compartment at one end.

In 2014 CMR ceased rail operations due to the decaying state of the track north from Cooma to Chakola but since then, CMR has undertaken considerable work to repair, restore and upgrade the infrastructure of the Cooma Railway Station Precinct, with the museum opening last December.

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