RAIL TRANSPORT IN WESTERN SYDNEY
THE MAIN WESTERN LINE
In 1863 the railway came to Penrith, after which it was expanded to cross the Nepean and eventually over the Blue Mountains. Large numbers of men and vast quantities of materials were used to achieve this engineering marvel. The coming of the railway effectively ended the mixed grazing domination of the local Penrith economy, as the western lands - far more suitable and viable for this activity - were brought within reach of the Sydney markets. In the 1860's, the Victoria Bridge was built to cross the Nepean, and a long zig-zag was constructed to ascend the ridge west of the river, designed by Chief Engineer John Whitton: the "Father of New South Wales Railways". In 1867 a second bridge - the Knapsack Viaduct - was constructed with seven enormous stone arches to carry the line across Knapsack Gully.
THE MAIN SOUTHERN LINE
In 1858, the Main Southern Line to Campbelltown was opened, and was extended to Goulburn in 1869. The Station Master's residence at Fairfield is the oldest railway building still in existence in New South Wales. Merrylands station, built out of railway sleepers, was considered too small to accommodate the volume of passengers, and was extended in 1914. It was originally said to exist 'almost solely to service the Holroyd Tile Works'. Yennora station was financed by Mrs. S. McCreadie of Linnwood in the hope that it would 'open up' the area. Mrs. McCredie was the wife of the mayor, and Yennora was constructed as a private platform.
Regents Park loop
Extension of suburban railways to Regents Park opened a large new area to subdivision and provided better access to existing estates such as Hyde Park, making them more attractive to workers. In 1911, the Auburn Brick Company proposed that the government build a tramway from Rookwood to Regents Park capable of handling railway wagons. The Water Board was also keen to have a railway line to supply its Potts Hill works as well as to open the area to settlement. A railway was thought to be more suitable. Construction commenced and the line was completed in July 1912. The first passenger service ran on 11 November 1912. The line was later reconstructed to eliminate level crossings as part of the Regents Park to Cabramatta line. Work included constructing a new station at Berala, which opened on 6 February 1924. Berala was formerly called Torrington, after the town of Old Torrington, Devon (UK) where the first mayor of Rookwood, Richard Slee, came from. The railway line from Lidcombe to Cabramatta was officially opened on 19 October 1924. The first electric train service ran on 2 December 1929.
Pippita extension / Olympic railway
A spur line from Clyde to the State Brickworks was built in 1911, with a private platform at Pippita to service the state abattoirs. This spur will reopen in 2000 to service the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games at Homebush Bay. The proposal consists of a rail loop and an underground railway station with three platforms capable of handling 30 trains per hour.
Clyde to Carlingford
The idea of a railway link to Dural appears to have been raised as early as 1881, when a deputation from the property owners of the district urged John Lackey, the Minister of Public Works, to consider the construction of a light railway from Parramatta to Castle Hill, Dural, and Pennant Hills.
In 1887, after six years of government inaction, a survey was commenced for a railway link from Westmead, Parramatta, and Rosehill to Dural. It was decided, for economic reasons, not to go ahead with this plan, but a short spur line was constructed from Clyde to the Parramatta River. Bennett's Railway Act of 1886 gave permission for the construction of a railway line into the lands of John Bennett and the Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Company, terminating at Rosehill. The line was opened in 1888.
The Simpson Railway Act of 1893 authorised the construction of a railway line in three sections to Dural, from a point on Bennett's railway line just north of the Rosehill Racecourse platform. The first section terminated at Carlingford, which was opened on the 16th April 1896. Because of the poor returns on both the freight and passenger services, the second (to Castle Hill) and third (to Dural) stages were never begun. The government purchased the Carlingford branch line in 1900, and public services began on 1 August 1901: affectionately known as the "Apricot Express".
Blacktown to Richmond
Although there had been agitation for the proposal of a rail service to Richmond from 1846, it wasn't until April 1856 that a successful public meeting took place at the Fitzroy Hotel, Windsor. A petition drawn up by William Walker, the local Member of Parliament, was presented and 1,600 signatures were collected.
Finally, funds became available in 1862 to extend the line to Richmond, using horse-operated power, at a cost of 60,000 pounds. There was some confusion about the mandatory turning of the first sod. This misunderstanding came about with two contractors constructing different parts of the line. William Walker, the local member, officiated on 14 January 1863 but the following day, contractor Randell had organised the Minister of Works, Mr. Arnold, to turn the obligatory first sod.
The line was officially opened on 29 November 1864 by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir John Young. The function was held in the newly completed goods shed. The line opened with stations at Riverstone, Mulgrave, Windsor and Richmond. In 1870 a station was opened between Windsor and Richmond called Racecourse, but this was renamed Clarendon in 1876.
In June 1867, the Hawkesbury River flooded, and reached an all-time peak of 63 feet above the mean river level at Windsor. The original South Creek viaduct - often the last land link between the town of Windsor and the outside world during flooding - was replaced by the present wooden trestle structure in 1876.
On 22 May 1975, the electric train arrived at Riverstone, and electrification was finally extended to Richmond and opened on 17 August 1991.
Castle Hill railway & tramway
The railway line to Baulkham Hills began life as a steam tramway which officially started operations on Monday 18 August 1902. At 7pm the same evening, the motor was derailed at the Woollen Mills. The extension to Castle Hill was officially opened on 30 July 1910. At the end of December 1922, the major works were undertaken to convert the tram line to a railway line which began service on 28 January 1923. The railway was extended to Rogan's Hill in 1924. The whole branch line from Parramatta was closed from 31 January 1932 amidst howls of protest. Platforms or halts were provided at Mons Road; Woollen Mills (Northmead); Moxham Road; Model Farms; Junction Road; Baulkham Hills; Cross Street; Southleigh (Excelsior Avenue); Parsonage Lane; Castle Hill and Rogan's Hill.
Camden branch line
On the 10th March 1882, the Camden Tramway was opened (so called because the railway ran along the road wherever possible). The first station was below the junction of Edward and Argyle Streets, Camden, but, later, land was resumed between Elizabeth and Edward Streets for the station. While the Yerranderie silver mines were operating the amount of goods traffic was large, but the increase in road transport of bulk goods diminished the use of the railway. The line was formally closed on 1st January 1963. The engine was known as Pansy.
In 1889 and 1892, deputations were made to the government regarding the construction of either a tramway or continuation of the railway to Kurrajong. The Committee of Works, in 1913, recommended that the railway be extended from Richmond to Kurrajong. The first sod was turned on 2 June 1923, by R.T. Ball, Minister for Works and Railways. The rail service was officially opened on 8 November 1926, but the operation of the line ran at a loss. Pansy was the name of the engine that travelled between Richmond and Kurrajong. After serious damage due to landslides, the line was closed on 26 June 1952.
LINES THAT NEVER HAPPENED
|1882||Proposed branch loop from St. Peter's to Liverpool|
|1880s||(late) Proposed tramway from Liverpool to Hoxton Park Estate|
|1896||Proposed extension of the Carlingford line to Dural, in two sections: the first as far as Castle Hill, and the second to Dural.|
|1903||Proposal to extend the Camden branch to The Oaks|
|1904||Mulgoa to Liverpool branch proposed by farmers|
There have been various plans throughout the years for expansion to the rail system - one plan was proposed to link Blacktown with Blayney, the line to serve Warragamba, Jenolan Caves and Oberon. Investigation showed that the gradients were too steep to enable the line to operate.
Granville Train Disaster
At 8:10 on the morning of 18 January 1977, eighty-three people died in Australia's worst rail disaster when a 300 tonne section of the Bold Street bridge, Granville, collapsed onto the 6:10 from Mt. Victoria when one of the pylons was struck by the locomotive. The engine derailed on a curve approaching the bridge. Incredibly, about 200 people escaped injury.
On July 10th, 1858 a disastrous accident happened at Haslem's Creek to the morning train from Parramatta, at about 9 o'clock. The train ran off the line at a spot near the present Lidcombe Public Pool, and some of the carriages turned over and fell down the embankment. Two passengers were killed, and several injured including Mr. Charles Boynton who later became the first station master at Haslem's Creek.
A little after ten o'clock on the evening of Wednesday, 30 January 1878, the stationmaster at Penrith received a message from Blue Mountains (now Lawson) that s Special goods train, carrying coal and shale, had just passed and would wait at Wascoe's Siding. Confident of this information, he gave the all-clear to a waiting west-bound goods train which now steamed slowly out of Penrith, across the Nepean, and on to Emu Plains.
As the twenty-two wagon train approached the steep climb into the Blue Mountains, its engine's throttle wide open, the driver was astonished to see, some distance ahead, a light moving on the line. Almost as soon as he gave a blast on the whistle both he and his fireman realised with horror that the Sydney-bound goods he expected to 'cross' at Wascoe's Siding had, in fact, gambled on a clear line to Emu Plains and was now hurtling down the final section of Lapstone Hill. Whistles blew and brakes screamed but the impending collision was inevitable. The driver and assistant guard of the eastbound train and the fireman of the westbound train were killed.
On the morning of 7th May, 1952, a train from Bankstown running to the city ploughed into the rear of a Liverpool train standing at Berala station, killing ten passengers and injuring 84.
On Sunday, 31st October 1965, a rail accident occurred when a fast goods train from Goulburn ploughed into a stationary passenger train near the viaduct just south of Liverpool station. One eyewitness said that the second carriage was pushed into the first and the rear carriage was forced on top of another. The first official statement said that the train had not been carrying many passengers: the final count was one fatality and four injured.
CLYDE RAILWAY WORKSHOPS
In 1891 a large railway camp for workers constructing the Clyde rail yards was located at Auburn. The rail yards commenced operations on 5th July 1892. These yards marshalled locomotives and rolling stock for many years, including suburban tank engines and rail motors. Associated with the yards are the Clyde Wagon Works, the main repair centre for railway rolling stock. To service the employees of the works, the private Clyburn railway platform opened in 1948.
Various spur lines ran off the main line between Parramatta and Granville. A siding for the Vale Locomotive Works was added near Auburn in 1884 and a connection for the SMP works was added in 1886. A siding for Metropolitan Vickers opened in 1927, which became the line for Australian General Electric in 1931. In 1911, a line to the State Brickworks was added, and near Lidcombe the goods line to Enfield which opened in 1916 also came off the main line.
Sidings from the Regents Park to Cabramatta line for industries included Auburn Brick Company (1912); Kilborne & Willick's railway wagon builders (1913); Babcock and Wilcox (1922); U.S. Air Force (1943) which became RAAF in 1946. A spur line coming off at Regents Park was extended as a goods line to Enfield Marshalling Yards.
On the Richmond branch, there was a siding ("Richards Siding") became the nucleus of the platform for Riverstone Meat Works, and the Windsor Milk Siding which opened on 28 August 1922 between Mulgrave and Windsor stations, and a siding from Quaker's Hill into the sawmill of Mr. Turner was opened on 29th December 1912 but closed in December 1925.
Further along the western line, there was a small spur known as the Toongabbie Stone Siding open from 4th October 1901 to 1947. It serviced the quarries of the Emu & Prospect Gravel Company.
A number of small, private spur lines branch off the Carlingford branch, which service many of the heavy industries in the Clyde and Sandown area: Goodyear; Hardie's; Australian Cream of Tartar; Anchau's; Wesco's; Wunderlich Ltd. are but a few industries which had sidings.
The Rope's Creek line, with platforms at Dunheved, Cochrane, and Rope's Creek provided rail access to employees of the St. Mary's industrial area.
Rookwood Cemetery traditionally had a close link with the railway. It was sited on the line to enable bodies and mourners easy access from the city. It had its own spur line running into it where an elaborate mortuary station had been erected.
Fullager's Bank Line
In 1870, a stone quarry was opened by Walding & Warrins at Prospect. A narrow gauge tramway connected the blue metal quarry to the siding at Fullager's Bank, on the main western line near Toongabbie. It is not known how long the railway was in operation, but it had closed before 1900.
The Emu Gravel Company opened a quarry at Prospect at the end of 1901, and the same year contructed a standars gauge tramway from Toongabbie to Prospect, which opened on April 7, 1902. The engine was known as Possum, and was intended to carry passengers as well as stone, but this never happened.
A branch from the Prospect line was built to a quarry at Greystanes prior to 1910. The line was worked by the Emu Gravel Company. The line had closed by 1926.
In October 1925, The Sydney & Suburban Blue Metal Quarries Ltd. opened a branch from the main southern line at Fairfield to the Widemere quarries on the southern side of Prospect Hill. The line was about 5 miles long. A bogie engine worked the line until 1945, when a shortage of trucks forced the company to use road transport. The engines were eventually sold, and the lines removed.
The Nepean Sand and Gravel Company operated a branch line from a junction a mile and a quarter beyond Richmond station, on the eastern side of the Hawkesbury River. The line ran as far as the junction of the Nepean and Grose Rivers, at Yarramundi Falls. The company commenced operations at this site in 1925, and shortly afterward it constructed the railway as an alternative to an inefficient aerial ropeway. The line closed in the mid 1940's.
Emu Plains branch
In the early 1880's, an alluvial gravel pit opened which was situated on a bend of the Nepean River just west of Penrith. In 1884, a branch with siding for loading sand and gravel was built off the main western line just beyond Emu Plains station, off which another short spur ran to McGrath's woolwash. By 1903, the line was operated by the Emu and Prospect Gravel Company. This line has the distinction of being the only gravel line in New South Wales to be worked with its own engines.
CHANGES OF NAME
|Old name||Initial change||Present name|
|'Bond's platform'||Pendle Hill|
|T.R. Smith's platform||Wentworthville|
|Douglas' Siding||Quaker's Hill|
|The Weatherboard||Wentworth Falls|