Railways and the Waverley Area (updated 27.5.10)

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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:

WAVERLEY RAILWAY.

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.

When the 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. I have listed these here, but I'm sure there must be more. Anyone who knows other significant features of Waverley's railways, please tell me!

  1. The railway line from East Malvern to Glen Waverley was opened in 1930. It was the only line in Melbourne to be built and electrified at once - all other electric lines (that is, the suburban network and the Gippsland main line) were built first (before the electric network had been built) and electrified later. For more information about railway electrification, see "Only Ten Percent Iron: Sir Harold Winthrop Clapp", from another of the author's web sites, Iron Horses Victoria. (Reference: The Electric Railways of Victoria, by S.E. Dornan & R.G. Henderson, published by the Australian Electric Traction Association)
  2. The Glen Waverley line is now one of the best in the suburban system, but when it first opened it was considered an eyesore. A single double-ended Swing Door carriage ran the entire route, and even this could not be made to pay its way with the low patronage. An article on this portion of the history of the line appears in the March 1981 edition of Australian Railway Enthusiast magazine.
  3. Sir Redmond Barry was a poineer settler in Syndal. Almost a hundred years after he named his property, in 1958, a new diesel-electric locomotive was built, numbered S308, and it was named after him. S308 had a long career in the railways, lasting in active service until October 1991 and clocking up several million kilometers of travel. It was withdrawn from service and placed inside the South Dynon locomotive workshop as a training aid for engine maintenance and repair students, with some parts removed for access so all the "vitals" could be seen. Now it resides in the Australian Railway Historical Society's museum in Williamstown, open for visitors to enter and inspect the inside.
  4. Sir John Monash was a general in the Australian Army in the First World War. His name was first applied to the university whose first campus was in the Waverley area. From there it has spread much further. However, it was also applied to another diesel locomotive of the same class as S308 "Sir Redmond Barry" - the last member of the class, S317. It entered service in 1960-61 and also lasted a long time in service. In 1983, when it was over 20 years old, it was deemed worthwhile to repair it from very heavy collision damage, and it eventually returned to service with improvements such as an electric vigilance control ("dead-man equipment"), sun blinds, reduced cab noise and improved cab heaters. It is now owned by Great Northern Rail Services, a private railway operator which runs several "classic" diesel engines, and was recently restored to service.
  5. Mount Waverley railway station has several claims to fame:
  6. Glen Waverley station was the first to be equipped with automatic ticketing barriers. These record the unique identification numbers encoded in the magnetic strip on the Metcard tickets, and allow transport planners to work out how customers' needs could best be met. (Reference: Newsrail magazine, July 1997, p196. Newsrail is published by the Australian Railway Historical Society, Victorian Division.)
  7. The section of track from East Malvern to Glen Waverley was host to Australia's first Centralised Traffic Control (CTC) system, which became operational on September 7, 1958. CTC means that instead of each section of track being controlled by its own signal box, the whole area is controlled from one central signal box, with an illuminated diagram showing the position of every train on the system. Points and signals are set electrically from the same box. (Reference: VR to '62, by Leo J Harrigan, p174-5)