The NSW Railways celebrates its 150th Anniversary.
- On the weekend of the 23rd & 24th of September 2005, Sydney's Central Station was the scene of past Glory. And what a bitter sweet scene it was. Sweet because of the heavenly smell that caught your nose as you rounded the corner from the electric platforms. Bitter because the place was plastered with banners proudly stating 150 years of Growth. What a mis-truth! There hasn't been any "growth" for the last 25 years.
- A large proportion of the people present seemed to be grumpy old grey-haired men. Most put on a pleasant face but you only had to scratch below the surface to let the grumpiness out. A lot of discussions about the Railways was heard with not one person saying it was doing a good job.
- With great hide and not much else, the once proud but now gutted and disintegrated NSWgR pretended that everything was rosy. There were a variety of displays. One display had a number of beautifully drawn diagrams of the various stages of expansion of the NSW rail network. The main set finished at 1925, 80 years ago. Just two diagrams covered 1925 to 2005 and actually made no sense. There was a diagram missing. One should have depicted the period from 1925 to 1975. This would have shown the network at its largest. The second last one could then show 1975 to 2005. But of course this would have shown a large number of closures so it was absent. The first of the two which actually covered 1925 to 2005 had quite a number of country rail lines drawn differently to the rest. The second one, which was the last diagram in the row, was the current state of the railways network in 2005. This one showed a smaller network.
These diagrams clearly show that, instead of 150 years of growth, the NSW railways had well and truly stopped growing by 1975 and since then has shrunk. Negative growth equates to dying in my book. In the last 30 years many hundreds of miles, er, kilometers of rail lines have been closed and replaced by buses but only tens of miles of new lines have been added to the network. (Bondi, Airport, Glenfield, Sandy Hollow)
- Other displays covered motive power. Neatly ignoring the costly capital expenditure of the electrification of the Blue Mountains line and the purchase of a large number of electric locos to work it which when the costs savings of three electric trains down the mountain means one goes up for nothing are taken into account there is a criminal waste of taxpayers money now that NONE of these are used and diesels burning expensive foreign priced oil are used exclusively on heavy freights on this line.
- There were various TV monitors with documentaries running, all extolling the virtues of the Railways. Unfortunately most of these documentaries were at least 50 years old.
- By far the majority of the large number of helpful people on duty to inform the visitors about all aspects of the Railways were volunteers.
- The rolling stock displays were largely made up of exhibits from the various volunteer Museum Organisations and Historical Societies.
- Outside Central free rides were being given in beautifully restored old single and double decker buses from volunteer Museum Organisations and Historical Societies. Signs in the windows asking for donations would indicate that they weren't getting much official help.
- Steam train rides at $20 a pop for about a 45 min ride were provided by two sets of eight historical carriages with a steam loco on each end. However the state of the carriages and locos showed just how little the Railways are actually doing to preserve any of their past. All the preservation is being carried out by volunteer organisations and the Govt is quite happy to sit back and let the dedicated amateurs carry out this difficult work.
- Some carriages had paint/varnish peeling off in places. At least one of the carriages had flats worn on its wheels.
Wheel Noise heard on steamshuttle to Hurstville. (440kb)
Wheel Noise on the return journey; same carriage. (1Mb)
- At least one carriage had faulty wheel bearings. (If it wasn't wheel bearing noise then the rails to Hurstville have some very strange wear patterns.) There are no other trains present so the whine is not coming from an electric. Wheel Whine recorded while on steamshuttle to Hurstville. (430kb)
I have since found out that the cause of the whine is neither of the above. Apparently when the rails are reprofiled by machine fine transverse grooves are left and these cause the whine. The question still remains as to why these grooves are left on the rails.
- 3830, while looking immaculate, I'm sure due to the tireless efforts of the volunteers, has some severe mechanical defect connected with it's valve gear. Possibly to do with the expansion link or valve spindle. It sounded like the left hand side valve gear was falling apart.
3830 falling to bits on the Hurstville shuttle. (1.3Mb)
- Rumours abound that 3801's boiler is almost worn out and there is currently a falling out, amongst the three proprietors of the psuedo company which runs it, concerning what to do about it.
- So while the gutted and disemboweled NSWgR pretends that everything is ok, this is plainly not so to anyone who has a pair of eyes. The only thing the Railways appeared to do this weekend was to provide an army of unnecessarily conspicuous security guards. Such displays of naked authority were conspicuous by their absence at the 125th anniversary of the NSWGR.
- If it wasn't for the multitude of volunteers, those people who just love trains, providing the stationary exhibits, the knowledgable guides, the floor walkers, the operating Steamlocos, the carriage managers, the 150th Anniversary would have been a disaster because there would have been nothing to put on display and no one to tell you about it. One can only wonder what the 175th anniversary will be like. Will we even have any railway by then?
The sooner the NSWgR is re-integrated back into the NSWGR the better for us all.
Listen to 3830 working up a slight sweat climbing past Arncliffe.
Both abr64.mp3 (1.1Mb) and cbr96.mp3 (1.6Mb) have been filtered heavily to reduce wheel-whine and wind.
For comparison purposes here is 3820 and its beautiful two-tone whistle starting from Bargo pulling 8 carriages, mostly FSs, 20+ years ago. (2.8Mb)
© Gary Yates Locofonic Recordings Australia
This page first written 28-9-2005 last updated 1-10-2005.