Compiled from material held in the Railway Resource Centre and other sources

  Published 24th July, 2005Vol. 2 No. 30  

Click the stars to jump

At Newcastle, N.S.W., on 29th April, 1994, 9001 is lifted from on board the "Mirabella" after its voyage from Vancouver, Canada



     "The Fish" — well-known business train to the Blue Mountains, became a stainless steel electric train on September 15.
     Its departure from Sydney was farewelled by the NSW Railway Commissioner, Mr. N. McCusker, along with top railway officers.
     The new train, which carries name boards at each end, consists of 8 cars — two four-car sets, with a first class car marshalled in each of the sets, having a total accommodation for 528 passengers. Gross weight of the train is 401 tons.
     Prior to entering service, the new train made several trips to Katoomba and Mt. Victoria for the instruction of drivers. During these runs a special test was made to simulate emergency conditions in the event of a train failing, and having to be pushed out of the section.
     The train was brought to a stand on the 1 in 33 grade half-a-mile west of Valley Heights. An electric locomotive from that depot was then brought behind the train and pushed the dead (?) train into the up refuge loop at Springwood. Here the locomotive ran round the train and then hauled it to Lawson, making all stops en route. The train then continued under its own power to Mt. Victoria.
     The new train will continue in this service until the introduction of the new timetable on October 26. On that date one set, after arrival in Sydney on "The Fish," will be utilized during the day to run No. 23 passenger, 8.50 a.m. from Sydney, to Mt. Victoria, returning from that place at 11.31 a.m. and due in Sydney at about 2.00 p.m. This set will then be coupled to the other four-car set to form "The Fish" that evening.
Reprinted [with some corrections] from Railway Transportation, October, 1958

     A new contemporary passenger lounge and booking centre to be provided at Sydney Terminal (Central) Station will be the equal of similar facilities at any rail terminal in the world.
     Preliminary construction work on the new facilities will commence at an early date.
     With other new extensions and amenities, this work will comprise Stage Two of an overall plan for further modernising passenger facilities at the station, which has already been described in American magazine "TRAINS", as one of the world's greatest passenger facilities.
     Stage One, nearly completed, entailed erection of modern cantilever awnings on Platforms 1, 2 and 3, and installation of new fluorescent lighting. It also provided for extensions to these platforms and erection of a contemporary glass-partitioned entrance barrier to Platform 1.
     During Stage Two, similar entrances will be provided at Platforms 2 and 3. Other platforms will receive identical treatment in a future programme.
     In the overall modernisation plan, the new main entrance will be from the old tramway platform. Station-bound road vehicles will follow the route formerly taken by trams, and there will be parking space for about 50 cars and taxis.
     The glass doorways of the new main entrance will open into a spacious passenger lounge to be located on the site of the present booking offices, adjoining the Inquiry Office.
     The existing sloped floor will be levelled and replaced by one of decorative parquetry. The red Italian marble walls will be cleaned and polished and topped by an artistic suspended ceiling with contemporary lighting.
     The 108 ft. x 45 ft. passenger lounge will accommodate about 200 in comfortable divans and chairs. Low tables will be provided for reading matter and decor will include attractive wrought-iron accessories and indoor plants.
     The new booking office and information centre at the main assembly end of the lounge will be a circular structure of 28-ft. radius, highlighted by a cantilevered copper canopy lined with attractive veneer. New ticket-issuing machines will ensure quicker and more efficient service.
     The Information and Service Centre will handle all inquiries and the "Man in Blue" will be located at this point.
     These reconstruction steps will receive priority in the Department's modernisation plan for Sydney Terminal Station.
     The Department will ensure that there is no delay in ticket issues while the work is proceeding, and the dignity of the present building will not be impaired. Existing stained glass doors and windows will be retained.

     Future plans for further modernisation of the station includes:
  • Tiling of main assembly platform with multi-coloured tiles to a pleasing design.
  • Installation of a contemporary train arrival and departure indicator board.
  • Simplified luggage handling by conveyor belt system.
  • Roof dome to be painted teal blue and further decorated.
  • New contemporary restaurant, coffee lounge, beer garden, post office and commercial development sites.
  • Transfer of Station Master's Office from No. 1 platform to central site near Passenger Lounge.
  • Additional new passenger lounge on Platform 1.
  • Modernisation of kiosks and installation of new escalators from Eddy Avenue level to the upper assembly platform.

     The Department also plans to develop and modernise the access from Eddy Avenue to the main station.
     This entrance will be convenient for car, taxi and bus travellers, and two passenger lounges will be provided on this level, as well as a modern restaurant, milk bar/coffee lounge, valet service, with areas for leasing for commercial development.
Reprinted from The Railwayman, November-December, 1962

     In the late "seventies" and early " eighties" there was a falling off of trade in Manchester which caused the more reflective citizens no little perturbation, amounting almost to consternation, when it became known that, in consequence of local depression, Messrs. Sharp, Stewart & Co., the locomotive builders, contemplated moving from Manchester to the Clyde. The prospect of such a loss stimulated interest in the proposed Ship Canal which was believed by the pioneer spirits who sponsored it to be the best and most courageous answer to the alarming industrial decline. The Chamber of Commerce had already advocated a deep waterway to the sea and popular opinion, urged now by the threatened removal of industry, was increasing its interest and support.
     Mr. Daniel Adamson, a member of another big firm of engineers, made the question his own and invited representatives of local authorities and several prominent business men to meet him at his house, "The Towers," Didsbury, on June 27th, 1882, in order, quoting the words of his invitation, "to consider the practicability of constructing a tidal waterway to Manchester."
     This invitation enclosed a pamphlet giving facts and figures supporting the proposal and bearing on its title-page the following pronouncement by the late Sir William Fairbairn:—
     "Any improvement, which will enable ocean-going vessels to discharge their cargoes in a commodious wet dock in Manchester, would form an epoch of such magnitude in the history of Manchester as would quadruple her population and render her the first as well as the most enterprising city in Europe."
     The population of Manchester and Salford has, since the Canal was opened, increased from about 600,000 to nearly a million; our position as an industrial and commercial centre is paramount; and our reputation in Europe for enterprise is in no danger.
     The outcome of the historic gathering at "The Towers" was the appointment of a provisional committee. As each name on that committee stands only second to that of Adamson for enterprise and foresight it is with some pride that the firm of Messrs. Beyer, Peacock & Co. recalls that Mr. Richard Peacock was a member of it and played his part in helping to carry into effect an undertaking destined to elevate Manchester, an inland city, to the proud position of third port in the United Kingdom. Adamson and Peacock were closely associated in promoting the canal scheme and they were both agreed on the advisability of gaining the interest and support of Mr. Joseph Lawrence, an old friend and associate of Peacocks who had in 1880 assisted in carrying through Parliament an Act for uniting the Yorkshire coalfields with the Port of Hull and the construction of docks in connection with the scheme. Lawrence's experience on the financial side — the share capital for the Hull scheme, £3,000,000, had been over-subscribed three or four times in the course of a few days — was felt to be invaluable and both his experience and his enthusiasm justified the faith of his old friend.
     These three then, Adamson, Peacock and Lawrence, bore the brunt of the first heavy fighting. There was between them a sort of "railway freemasonry" as they had all at one time been railway men, an interesting and paradoxical fact considering the work upon which they were now to engage together.
     Lawrence proved a great publicist, one of his pamphlets on the canal entitled "Why it is wanted and why it will pay" ran through three editions totalling 50,000 copies. His pen came time and time again to the rescue when adverse criticism was under-mining local faith in the enterprise.
     Peacock's spirit as a pioneer and his prestige as an industrialist resulted in his becoming Deputy Chairman of the provisional committee which was formed after the meeting at "The Towers" and he presided, in Adamson's absence, over the meeting of the Provisional Committee and subscribers to the guarantee fund. This meeting was held in the old Town Hall on September 26th, 1882, when it was decided that "steps be forthwith taken to raise a Fund and to apply for Parliamentary Powers to carry out the Scheme."
     The history of the attempts to get Parliamentary sanction is a long one and highly creditable to the promoters who stuck to the work through thick and thin and came up smiling after every reverse — to try again. The first Bill was deposited for the Parliamentary Session of 1883 and was passed by the Commons in July only to be rejected by the Lords in August. A second Bill was deposited in December and passed by a Committee of the House of Lords in May of the following year to be rejected, this time by the Commons in August. December 1884 saw a third Bill deposited and this was finally passed, receiving the Royal Assent on the 6th August, 1885.
     The Ship Canal scheme of course ran counter to many vested interests and was contested all the way, involving legal costs amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Shortage of money, floods, the death of the contractor, Mr. T. A. Walker, large calls for compensation and land purchase, the necessity for acquiring the Bridgewater Undertaking and many other things complicated the furtherance of the work but, in spite of everything, what is one of the greatest undertakings in the world, judged by many standards but principally by those of faith, perseverance, and engineering skill, was brought to a triumphant conclusion in 1894 when, on January 1st, the canal was opened for traffic to Manchester and 71 vessels proudly steamed through our new sea gate.
     The names of Adamson, Peacock and Lawrence, no less than those of Bridgewater, Stephenson, and in another sphere Crompton, Arkwright, Hargreaves and Roberts, will always be recalled when Lancashire industry and enterprise is upper-most in men's minds.
     Were Peacock alive to-day he would not only be proud of the developments of his own business at Gorton Foundry but equally proud of the Port of Manchester at whose birth he played such an important and invaluable part. He saw clearly nearly fifty years ago what many people even to-day, with the proofs lying spread out before them, fail to see:— Manchester a great Port with maritime connections reaching out over the whole world, vast new industries clustering round her docks and waterways, her vitality renewed and her confidence in herself reinforced by that priceless and hardly-won blessing—access to the sea.
Reprinted from The Beyer-Peacock Quarterly Review, April, 1928

     Early in the year [1907] a strike occurred on the system of the Tramway Sud of Paris, which affected the service on a number of lines on the southern side of Paris. The Tramway Sud is perhaps the most important of all the lines in the French metropolis, and the suspension of its service caused very great inconvenience to thousands of Parisians. The whole of the operating force, to the number of 1600, ceased work, and there was almost immediately a total suspension of the service on the lines of the company, which not only include some 20 miles within Paris but also extend from the city to various suburban districts. The cause of the strike was the new law relating to weekly rest for workmen and employees, which went into force late in 1906, and immediately became the cause of heated discussion and disputes in many trades and industries. Tramway companies were included among the other commercial interests affected, and legal cases were not slow to appear in view of the rather lax wording of the law. It was apparently left to the local authorities to decide whether the tramways and interurban railways in their districts came under the new law. In one case at least, that of Brest, the magistrates decided that the tramways of that town came under the same category as railways, and to this class of industry the obligatory clauses regarding the weekly day of rest do not apply, although the employees must be compensated by a rotation holiday, which need not necessarily fall on Sunday. Previous to the passing of the new law the Tramway Sud had allowed its drivers, conductors and other employees two whole days holiday per month with pay. There was nothing obligatory about this. The new law obliges the employer to allow four days rest per month, which was duly done, but the company protested against the payment of wages on these four days, while the men claimed that full pay should be given. It will be seen that the company, in continuing the payment on two days, paid what is equivalent to four half days' wages, beyond which it flatly refused to go. Hence the strike. The lines of the system have been completely shut down for weeks. Attempts have been made to run a certain number of tramcars by means of new men, but the municipal regulations on this point are severe and strictly applied, and progress along these lines has been slow. A motion was made in the Municipal Councillors meeting to annul the company's franchise, but matters have not gone so far as to warrant such a measure. At the present time everything is at a complete deadlock, and the attitude of the men is only equalled by the firmness of the company, which declared that it positively cannot afford to allow the men full pay for the four days rest imposed by the new law.
Reprinted from Street Railway Journal, 2 March, 1907

     Mr. J. S. Forbes, chairman of the District Railway, explained that the electric deadlock to the shareholders in quite his best style, as follows in his evidence in the House of Commons:—
     "Then we come to parliamentary matters, and I will just give you an outline of our Bill. We had, of course, to confirm an agreement for what is called the electrification of the railways, and you approved of the principal of it, and after much consideration and difficulty we got it passed through Parliament. Then we had a very difficult question with the Metropolitan as to the system upon which these railways should be electrified. Everyone has got his own idea, and we, under the advice of a pair of eminent engineers — Sir William Preece and Mr. Parker, of the Metropolitan — were captivated by the apparent merits of what they called the Ganz system. We had a choice of several other systems; but that system did present elements which appeared to be sufficiently good in respect to scientific principles and otherwise to induce us to select the Ganz tender. The moment we selected the Ganz tender we were attacked on all sides by the British companies, such as the British Westinghouse system and others, who said what fools we were, what ignoramuses we were, &c., and that it was a dead failure, and that it was impossible to adopt it. Then came this combination to electrify our railway, and they say, in the graphic language of the distinguished gentleman who is at the bottom of it, Mr. Yerkes, 'I will not put a dollar into the Ganz system.'"
     "The Metropolitan are blessed with a director who is a most distinguished gentleman, Colonel Mellor, but he has the misfortune, which happily is spared me, of knowing a little about science, and he has got a governing mind, and nothing you can do will persuade Colonel Mellor to listen to any modification of his conviction, founded upon his own electrical knowledge, that it is a good system, and he would not have any other, and that has brought us to a deadlock. It was to be applied to the electrification of the Inner Circle Railway. We have four miles of it, and they have nine, and I carefully, throughout the whole negotiations from beginning to end, limited our assent to any system whatever to those four miles as part of the Inner Circle reserving to ourselves the right to apply to the whole of the rest of our system any other system which turns out to be better. We have stuck to that position. Now, that brought about a deadlock. Then this Act of Parliament came on, and we had to put it right, and the result of it is in a clause which leaves the whole matter to be settled by the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade showed no great disposition to take up this burden of determining whether the Ganz system was a good one or a bad one. They were approached in many ways to make a pronouncement; but, like wise people, they avoided cracking a nut of such a tremendous character. The clause I refer to provides that in such a case the Board of Trade shall appoint a special tribunal, consisting of an arbitrator, not being an electrical engineer, and two engineers, one to be appointed by each company, to hear evidence and determine which system of working shall be applied to the portions of each company's system. We have determined to go to the Board of Trade forthwith. Meanwhile, Mr. Yerkes, who is deeply interested in this thing as the founder and the chief shareholder in the Traction Company, and very largely interested in ordinary shares, has gone to Budapest with his engineers in order to satisfy himself by inquiry on the spot whether it does or does not contain elements which overcome his objection to adopt the Ganz for the whole system, and I should not be at all surprised, from what I know of Mr. Yerkes, if he brings back Ganz in his pocket; but until he comes back I cannot tell you more about it. Meanwhile, we must go on with this matter at the Board of Trade. It comes to this:-
     'that instead of having a deadlock brought about by a conflict of opinion of two very obstinate boards, you have an authority to settle it if they will only settle it; but it means a tribunal, and we know what tribunals are, particularly at this time of the year. Still, that is a difficulty out of the way.'"
Reprinted from The Railway Engineer, September, 1901

     Offered for sale recently by the German Federal Railways were a number of diesel railcars, all of pre-war manufacture and now considered obsolete. Among them was something of more than normal interest: the original and famous Flying Hamburger. Back in 1933 this twin-unit streamliner started the world's fastest scheduled diesel railcar service. It covered 178.1 miles between Berlin and Hamburg in 138 minutes at an average speed of 77.4 mph. Each car of the Hamburger was powered by a 410 h.p. Maybach diesel engine; the transmission was electric and the maximum speed 110 mph.
     During the war it was taken over by the German army and used as a staff headquarters. Reported as being interested in buying the train was the East German State Railways.
Reprinted from Trains, October, 1957

     We sometimes see photographs in the illustrated papers depicting a powerful locomotive belching forth clouds of black smoke and having a column of steam ascending from the safety valves. Apparently it is thought that all is well when these conditions prevail, whereas the fact is that, when the best results are being obtained there will be no visible sign of either steam or smoke.
     Unfortunately, the idea is all too prevalent that steam blowing off at safety valves is inseparable from the practical operation of locomotives.
     This, however, is a mistaken idea. The fireman who thoroughly understands combustion, the properties of different coals, the circulation of water in the boiler, and has a good knowledge of roads and signals and running conditions, can keep the boiler pressure fairly close to the maximum without any "blowing off" whatever. This involves constant attention in order to anticipate the demand for steam and regulate the fire and feed water accordingly.
     Tests have shown that safety valves blowing off hard wasted 12 lb. coal per minute. And the waste of coal is not all, frequent blowing off destroys the faces of the safety valves, and then the wastage of steam is continuous. The mechanical staff cannot cope with the damage to valves when the "blowing off" evil is allowed to become chronic.
     A person who has little knowledge of locomotive operating might suppose that it would be good practice to have the engine blowing off when ascending a steep grade. This, however, wastes more steam through the safety valves than is saved by working at a shorter "cut off" and also damages the safety valves, as stated above, it also increases the tendency to "slipping." If, for any reason, the load cannot be hauled up the grade without "blowing off" it should be reduced before reaching the grade.
     "Blowing off" on suburban running can be prevented by putting on the injector as soon as the train is got well under way. It can be prevented where heavy grades are concerned by putting on the injector (or the second injector, if necessary) in sufficient time before reaching the top of grade. Even if the boiler pressure is reduced somewhat, when near the top of the grade, there will generally be sufficient momentum to assist in reaching the top, or, in other cases, the reversing lever can be "let out" to compensate for the reduced pressure when near the top.
Reprinted from V.R.I. Review, 1 November, 1920

     Following failure of railway water supplies at Murrurindi and Werris Creek on the NSWGR's Northern line, special water trains have been running between Werris Creek and Quirindi. Picture shows six 57-class locomotive tenders, about to leave Entield. Six additional tenders have also been fitted with hoses and coupled in pairs for this service.
Reprinted from Railway Transportation January, 1958

     Plan showing the proposed electric systems to serve the Eastern and Western Suburbs in conjunction with the City Railway as laid before the Second Session of the N.S.W. Legislative Assembly, 1914.


S.N.C.F. Panoramique Train on its route from Digne, France to Geneva, Switzerland


Travelling by train does allow for close contact with your fellow passenger!



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