With Iluka announcing in early May (through an advertisement in the Hopetoun Courier on Thurs.2.5.2013) that the haulage of mineral sands by rail from Hopetoun to Hamilton has been temporarily suspended and the rumours of an impending change of operator, the last El Zorro hauled service may have run on Sat 20.4.2013.
Locomotive troubles during the preceding week had resulted in a number of different motive power combinations culminating in this unique grouping of S320-T333-TL152-1872 for the last two journeys to date.
The previous Sunday the train departed Hopetoun with T342-T333-S302 up front but was obviously having some problems as it took over an hour to make it to Beulah were it paused briefly for the drivers to inspect the locomotives. Eventually the train made it to Warracknabeal where it stabled for the night to await attention from mechanics the following day. This was the first time that it was stabled at this location with the previous few occasions when it remained on the branch overnight it was at the terminus of Hopetoun.
The train departed in the afternoon of Mon.15.4 but with only half of the hoppers, with the remaining ones being collected by the up service on the following Friday. The services on the Wednesday and the Thursday were both hauled by TL152 and T333 with the shortened rake of hoppers.
The rumours of this trainís future suggest that it will resume in late May or early June but with Pacific National taking over the hook and pull service. These rumours were supported by the report of two G class locomotives, G536 and G537, being transferred from PN Intermodal to PN Bulk in mid-May Ė Only time will tell.