Train cartoon

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.

Ah well, the upholstery didn’t look too bad by the 1940s. War years, and women in the workforce.

The following incident two years later could easily have caused a typo and and a few dropped stitches!

Goods trains caused a lot of angst that year. In November, one actually came apart;


WENTWORTH FALLS – Wed. – When a goods train broke in two coming down the Blue Mountains today, the driver was unaware of the mishap. As the front section pulled up, the runaway rear trucks crashed into it. A large petrol waggon capsized and a truck was derailed, scattering 40 bales of wool about the line, while other trucks were badly smashed.


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.


‘ 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!

Commuter cartoon

Meanwhile the old  trains continued to  puff through the Mountains, steam issuing from every orifice and  fire in their bellies.

Steam train at Blackheath station NSW
At Blackheath Station recently. Preserved for posterity.
Steam train in the Blue Mountains
On the way down….and out.

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.

Seasons ticket for Blue Mountains trains.
Season ticket for a Glenbrook commuter.


Our current inner-city trains, pictured below,  are soon to be replaced.

Intercity trains at Sydney Central
All stops to Lithgow.

Yes, 2021….(or 2?) should 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.

New Trains coming!
New trains for the Blue Mountins Line
Sleek, but not exactly welcomed with open arms

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.

Motion sickness cartoon

  1. So having to spend near $2B on widening the tunnels, rail corridor, extending most platforms and shaving up to 3 inches of them as well is only a “little” problem. Have fun riding those buses to Blacktown most weekends for the next 2+ years while those “little” issues are being worked on, at the taxpayers expense.

    • Pauline

      That’s exactly why the word little is written with irony quotation marks, Rob.

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