Cootamundra West Railway Station: how did that happen?

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 27 Mar 2019 10:45
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
When I last visited the station several years ago (I have photos to post) tracks existing on the southern side of the platform and also the bypass track was in place on the northern side of the station where the main line is.  

Are tracks still down on the southern side?

Cootamundra West Railway Station: how did that happen?

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  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
It does astound me the over investment that someone way back when approved across the rail network.  The populate or perish mantra must have led to a wide range of projects like this that likely never ended up making an economic return....
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

When the railway was originally built some major stations, usually at Junctions, were fitted for meals and accommodation. Cootamundra West was one of these. At the time it was envisaged there would be a direct SG link around the northern leg of the triangle to Adelaide via Hay and the station was built with this in mind. It never happened but the station is a reminder of these grand plans.
Had it all happened we would not only have had two Melboune Expresses each way but an Adelaide Express as well.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Interesting reading and I will be watching this thread over the next few days but what a grand station it is.

Who is responsible now for the upkeep and is it even used as a passenger destination?
  MetroFemme Assistant Commissioner

Building is two story providing what upstairs accomodation?
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
At the time it was envisaged there would be a direct SG link around the northern leg of the triangle to Adelaide via Hay and the station was built with this in mind. It never happened but the station is a reminder of these grand plans.
Had it all happened we would not only have had two Melboune Expresses each way but an Adelaide Express as well.
neillfarmer
Are there any maps of the possible route for this?  Would it have gone via Mildura or somewhere further north?
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

Building is two story providing what upstairs accomodation?
MetroFemme
Yes, accommodation was on the second storey. There a a number of stations like this throughout NSW. I think they were built before sleeping cars and dining cars were introduced. Moss Vale, Werris Creek, Junee and there are no doubt more similar stations that searches of Goggle maps can discover.
  5915 Chief Commissioner

Opportunity for rail tourism?

5915
  CPH8 Locomotive Fireman

Cootamundra West station was built to provide access to the nearby airport. Because of Sydney - Melbourne rivalry, when the International Air Route from Britain to Australia was established in the 1930's, the flights terminated at Cootamundra as the half way point between Sydney and Melbourne. Air passengers finished their journey to Sydney or Melbourne by train.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Cootamundra West station was built to provide access to the nearby airport. Because of Sydney - Melbourne rivalry, when the International Air Route from Britain to Australia was established in the 1930's, the flights terminated at Cootamundra as the half way point between Sydney and Melbourne. Air passengers finished their journey to Sydney or Melbourne by train.
CPH8
I think the station at Cootamundra West dates from the duplication of the line to Cootamundra so around 1915 or so.
The station buildings are almost identical to those on platforms 2 and 3 at Goulburn, built at the same time for the same reason, to provide a refreshment room at the location.

I understood that the intention was that mail trains to Temora and further West could bypass Cootamundra itself in both directions since Cootamundra West was not significantly further from the centre of town. I don't know if this was ever normal practice, since it was simple to run into the main station and attach the branch line or main line (in the up direction) locomotives to the rear of the train.

I think the Cootamundra West station was already in place when the airport became significant.

The West station was convenient for the RAAF Base established during WWII. An uncle was a flying instructor based at Cootamundra. The Tiger Moth was the main aircraft used there. I think the refreshment rooms did good business with a major military base adjacent.

Peter
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

The early days of air mail did have Adelaide-Sydney mail going by air to Cootamundra and completing the journey by train.

Are there any maps of the possible route for this?  Would it have gone via Mildura or somewhere further north?
james.au
I recall reading of a pre-WWI proposal to build a line Hay linking to Ouyen, so that one would have passed well to the south of Mildura. Loading for Mildura could have been detached at Ouyen to be picked up by a regular Mildura train, and there's a chance that Ouyen would have been the break of gauge junction.

That corresponds to a quite direct route to link up with the southern route out of Adelaide at Tailem Bend, and would have had the advantages of being a relatively short line to construct and passing through plenty of already established towns to allow for regular coal/water supplies to the steam locomotives.

Picking a northern exit from Adelaide and building a Sydney line passing to the north of Mildura would have been a mammoth task at the time, as it would have involved far greater distances passing through areas with very little settlement. With that in mind, it's not hard to see why the plans to eventually link Broken Hill to the rest of NSW were regarded as providing an acceptable level of integration and making a direct line less necessary.

I'm sure that many other options have been mentioned at various times, usually with vested interests taking priority over the best route.
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

A little bit more. The first air service between England and Australia was in 1935, between Brisbane and London by Qantas. Cootamundra West was built in1911.
Hay station was also a large two storey design similar to the other stations mentioned above. It was built in 1882. In 1920 Commonwealth railways proposed building a railway between Port Augusta through Morgan and Wentworth to Hay. Hay was built with extensive facilities as the plan was to change CR engines for NSWGR engines here.
Prior to this there must have been other similar proposals as the facilities at Hay and Cootamundra West were all over built for what was offering off the branch line.
  M636C Minister for Railways

In 1920 Commonwealth railways proposed building a railway between Port Augusta through Morgan and Wentworth to Hay.

I think this or a similar proposal was current during the First World War (not that long before 1920, of course). A large numbere of CR Ka class 2-8-0s was ordered for such a line and these saw very little use except during WWII. Construction of these was delayed until after the war due to conflicting demands on workshop capacity. At various times these were offered to NSW since they were built to the NSW TF (D53) design but NSW did not need additional locomotives until WWII when the CR found they needed them themselves.

Peter
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
You know i think I've been part of a discussion about this before.  That route is obviously one that the Vic government (possibly even now) would not like as the production from the Mildura area would be able to go to Adelaide and Sydney, instead of exclusively through Melbourne.
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

At this point is appropriate that the far sighted proposals for the SA to Cootamundra railway be recognised as something that should have been done. The route was largely across easy country and would have given SA and WA a direct SG connection to the NSW seaboard and onward to Queensland. Only the Kalgoorlie to Perth section needed to be rebuilt in SG to provide a SG link across the nation, something that did not happen for another 50 years.
It would be of interest to know why it was not done, there must have a been a serious intention as the CR purchased locomotives for the line.
Especially so as the interstate highways at that time were still dirt tracks in places and mostly unsealed.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
At this point is appropriate that the far sighted proposals for the SA to Cootamundra railway be recognised as something that should have been done. The route was largely across easy country and would have given SA and WA a direct SG connection to the NSW seaboard and onward to Queensland. Only the Kalgoorlie to Perth section needed to be rebuilt in SG to provide a SG link across the nation, something that did not happen for another 50 years.
It would be of interest to know why it was not done, there must have a been a serious intention as the CR purchased locomotives for the line.
Especially so as the interstate highways at that time were still dirt tracks in places and mostly unsealed.
neillfarmer
From memory in the previous conversation, it was mentioned that the Victorians wouldn't allow it as they didn't want to lose the commerce.

Agreed, the freight running on this would have been quite interesting.
  UpperQuad Locomotive Fireman

Location: 184.8 miles to Sydney
Cootamundra West isn’t on the Hay line.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Cootamundra West isn’t on the Hay line.
UpperQuad

But if you wanted to you could get there by reversing at Griffith and Yanco....

It is possible that a more direct link from Hay to Griffith was considered...

Peter
  M636C Minister for Railways

You know i think I've been part of a discussion about this before.  That route is obviously one that the Vic government (possibly even now) would not like as the production from the Mildura area would be able to go to Adelaide and Sydney, instead of exclusively through Melbourne.
james.au

I think it is far more likely that the SA Government objected than Victoria, who would have had little say in the proposal.

Remember that SA objected to the CR building an SG line to Adelaide and managed to delay this from 1917 until the mid 1980s.

It was only built then because the SAR had become part of AN.

Even with the 1937 compromise of a BG line to Port Pirie, SAR were allowed to charge mileage based fares based on the old route through Quorn (which was longer and more of it was in SAR hands) right up until the joint operation of the Indian Pacific ceased (and presumably for freight rates as well).

The construction of the line via Port Pirie was only completed 20 years after the opening of the TAR and only when it was guaranteed that the SAR would lose no revenue from the change.

So if you were thinking of bypassing Adelaide and the BG line to Serviceton, I guess that the SA Government would object...   on revenue grounds alone...

Peter
  BigShunter Chief Commissioner

Location: St Clair. S.A.
Is it just me or does this station look very similar in design to the magnificent Serviceton station..

BigShunter.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Hay was built with extensive facilities as the plan was to change CR engines for NSWGR engines here.
neillfarmer
That could not have been the case, as the Commonwealth Railways (and the Commonwealth itself) did not exist at the time, the only railway to Port Augusta was a narrow gauge line to take agricultural exports to port, and there was very little desire for integration with WA.

I suspect the real reason for building such a prestigious station there was to entice producers in the area south of Hay to export via the railways to Sydney rather than down the Murray to Morgan (for trains to Port Adelaide) and maybe partially as a favour for an influential MP, but certainly not to encourage further integration with SA.

You know i think I've been part of a discussion about this before.  That route is obviously one that the Vic government (possibly even now) would not like as the production from the Mildura area would be able to go to Adelaide and Sydney, instead of exclusively through Melbourne.

I think it is far more likely that the SA Government objected than Victoria, who would have had little say in the proposal.
M636C
That doesn't add up.

At the time, a large amount of export trade from NSW and Victoria was making money for SA by coming down the Murray to get loaded onto trains for overseas export out of Port Adelaide.

An extension from Morgan into NSW - ideally curving around the north of the area which later became the Riverland to avoid passing through Victoria at all - would have been a huge coup for SA. NSW would have been more likely to veto it.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Cootamundra West isn’t on the Hay line.

But if you wanted to you could get there by reversing at Griffith and Yanco....

It is possible that a more direct link from Hay to Griffith was considered...

Peter
M636C
There is a snippet somewhere Im aware of a line being proposed from Combaning to maybe Narrandera/Yanco somewhere.  That might have been part of it?

See Trove

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28044676

Though the dates mightn't line up that well.  It needs a bit of research to confirm.
  M636C Minister for Railways

That doesn't add up.
At the time, a large amount of export trade from NSW and Victoria was making money for SA by coming down the Murray to get loaded onto trains for overseas export out of Port Adelaide.
An extension from Morgan into NSW - ideally curving around the north of the area which later became the Riverland to avoid passing through Victoria at all - would have been a huge coup for SA. NSW would have been more likely to veto it.


But the connection being discussed was a standard gauge line to be built and operated by the Commonwealth Railways.
No revenue from that line would go to South Australia.
NSW would gain extra traffic on standard gauge at the expense of Victoria and SA.
The SA Government was actively opposing any expansion of the CR within SA.
I think one SA Premier of the time stated that standard gauge would never be allowed to reach Adelaide (and it almost certainly didn't during his lifetime).

Peter
  wobert Chief Commissioner

Location: Half way between Propodolla and Kinimakatka
Is it just me or does this station look very similar in design to the magnificent Serviceton station..

BigShunter.
BigShunter
Depends how long you've been in the Neverby boozer.Razz
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
But the connection being discussed was a standard gauge line to be built and operated by the Commonwealth Railways.
No revenue from that line would go to South Australia.
M636C

I think that is the clincher - if the SAR would have lost work out of it, then SA would be worse off.

The economy would have been better off though, in all likelihood.

Damn railway politics...

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