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People who grew up in the era of personal transport in the form of motor cars find it hard to understand the great significance of the railway reaching an area. In the early days of Melbourne, and up to about the 1930s, railways were the only really viable means of transport over distances more than about 20km. Roads in those days were bumpy, rutted, dusty dirt tracks, which after heavy rain became impassible muddy swamps. Riverboats were widely used if rivers ran the right way, but these, like the bullock and horse drawn vehicles, were very slow. Railways, on the other hand, could reach at least 50km/h, more than three times the speed of all the alternatives. What was more, they could carry very large amounts of cargo, and their record of safety and reliability was much better than their competitors'.
The Waverley area was connected to Melbourne by rail in 1930. For information about the means used to get the railway into the area, see Wandering Around Waverley. On 5 May 1930, Lord Somers opened the new section from East Malvern to Glen Waverley. The Argus Newspaper of 6 May 1930 reported, alongside a photograph of Lord Somers with the ribbon:
OPENED BY LORD SOMERS.
People Urged to Use New Line.
Advice to the people of Victoria, and especially to those living in the metropolitan area to make greater use of the railway in preference to motor transport, was given both by the Governor (Lord Somers) and the Minister for Railways (Mr. Cain, M.L.A.) at the official opening of the Darling-Glen Waverley railway yesterday afternoon. Mr. Cain said that unless the people supported the new line they would have to foot the bill for any loss incurred by it.
The opening of the new railway took place at the Glen Waverley railway station, where the president of the Mulgrave Shire Council (Councillor Coleman) welcomed Lord and Lady Somers. The station is 13 miles from Flinders street station, and the six new stations on the line have been named, East Malvern. Holmesglen, Jordanville, Mount Waverley, Syndal, and Glen Waverley. On week days, from Monday to Friday inclusive, there will be 14 trains daily, the first leaving Glen Waverley at nine minutes past 6 o'clock in the morning, and the last leaving Flinders street station at 17 minutes past 11 o'clock at night and arriving at Glen Waverley at midnight.
Welcoming Lord and Lady Somers, Councillor Coleman said that the fact that Lord Somers had indulged in some wholesome yet constructive criticism recently showed that he had the welfare of Australia at heart.
Councillor Jordan (chairman of the Darling-Glen Waverley Railway Trust) said that for 30 years at least the people of Mulgrave had been fighting for the railway. The line ran through a beautiful district, and he was confident that it would be payable within from five to ten years, and that one the finest garden suburbs in Victoria would be developed.
construction of the railway was authorised in September
1926, the trust, comprising seven municipalities, was
formed. Of the 132 claims for compensation for the
resumption of land 118 had been settled, and as for there
had been no litigation.
The amount spent in the settlement of claims and in administration by the trust was 325,000pound. Messers Chandler, M.L.C, Knox, M.L.A., and Tyner, M.L.C., members for the district, also spoke.
Lord Somers who climbed into the driver's compartment of an electric train and cut the ribbon across the track from the drivers look-out window, said that he could understand how much the people of Mulgrave had looked forward to the building of the railway, and he could also sympathise with them in their long wait for it. Although his job that day was to open the line his real pleasure lay in meeting so many people.
Wherever Lady Somers, and I go, "said Lord Somers, "we get a smiling and friendly welcome, Pommies though we are. All I can ask you to do is to support your railways as much as possible. Send everything you can by rail instead of by road, and then you will find at Budget time that there is a little less deficit."
At a function held after the official opening, Mr. Cain, responding to the toast of the State Parliament, said that £170,000 had been spent on the new line, and he hoped that Councillor Jordan was a prophet when he said that it would pay in five or ten years. The Shire of Mulgrave was lucky to have obtained its railway. The community could not afford to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on railways which were used by only a few people who could not afford to by motor-cars. The Railways department asked for a little loyalty from the people. If the people of the district did not support the Darling-Glen Waverley railway they would find that they had to pay the
£310,000 guaranteed against loss in the first five years.
Extracted from p.7 The Argus Newspaper of 6 May 1930 NLA
Our area has a good number of claims to fame in the railway scene. These are listed here, but I'm sure there must be more. Anyone who knows other significant features of Waverley's railways, please tell us!