We Blue Mountains residents have long complained about our trains, The following was taken from The Daily Telegraph in May 1928;
The trains of New South Wales are notoriously dirty and slow, and a great deal of the inefficiency and neglect of the Railway Commissioners seems to be centred on the Blue Mountains run. The fact that it is probably the most popular holiday resort in the State does not seem to influence them in the slightest.
‘The Friday Frightful’ is a well known weekend train to Mt. Victoria, which is composed mostly of suburban carriages and prehistoric long-distance cars, more like French cattle trucks than anything else.
The article also claimed that the upholstery was torn and that the carriages were filthy with coal dust.
ELECTRIFICATION; THAT’S THE NAME OF THE GAME.
I was shocked to discover that steam trains ran from Sydney to the Blue Mountains right up until the mid 1950s. In 1954 the Lithgow Mercury published an article in which Mr Earle, the Railways Supervising Engineer, laid out the time-line for electrification and the projected cost – £6,000,000. He forecast great advantages for commuters.
BETTER THAN BONDI!
‘ The aim is to make it easier for a Sydney worker to live at, say Springwood, than at Bondi. For people who have thought of living west of Parramatta, the need to change trains and the slowness of steam traction have hitherto been discouraging.’
Wow, that was a brave and ambitious call!
Meanwhile the old trains continued to puff through the Mountains, steam issuing from every orifice and fire in their bellies.
Of course steam trains could be hazardous in such a bushfire prone area. The locomotives were fitted with spark arresting devices, but according to Mr Bernard Cummins of Blaxland, these were not always effective;
On January 19 1950, in a letter to Nepean Times, he wrote;
On December 7, while doing bit of safeguarding against and talking about bush fires, we noticed smoke coming from behind the cottage just after the 4pm train from Sydney passed under Lapstone Hill. And sure enough, on investigation, there was the fire straight from the railway line. But the alert boys of the V.F. Brigade soon had it under control and saved lots of damage. Thanks to the boys.
I wrote to Mr Garside and asked that something be done to prevent a recurrence. (previously I had put out 12 fires from one engine.) An inspector came along and assured me there would be no need to worry, as he would see that there would be much stricter supervision over the engines. But not many days elapsed when after the train we call the 10 o’clock there were six or eight fires.
Mr Cummins had good reason to worry. His own home, that of his mother and also his sister’s property had burned down at different times over the years, all in Blaxland.
Now here’s something I only recently discovered. For quite a few years until 1976 metal season tickets were issued for the Blue Mountains line, engraved with the holder’s name.
Our current inner-city trains, pictured below, are soon to be replaced.
Yes, 2020 will see a new fleet on the Blue Mountains line. However, when details of the design emerged there were howls of protest. The main objection was to the non-flip seats, meaning that many passengers will have to travel backwards. It appears that half the commuting population suffer from travel sickness and that paper bags will have to provided….or a increase in cleaning staff.
The fact that static seats allow room for table trays and charge points for electronic devices did not mollify the protestors one iota. ‘They’ll be ripped out within a few days!’ Oh my hat…..surely not!
ABC on-line highlighted a couple of other ‘little’ problems.
Bondi Beach or the bush? Well Mr Earle, given the traffic in the Big Smoke these days Springwood commuters might soon be out in front, except for the nausea that is.