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Instead of a streamlined journey all the way to the sand, the nearest station is three kilometres away at Bondi Junction.
It may seem a small ask for commuters to swap to a bus, but pushy crowds fighting to get on an escalator out of the station, full buses and roads crawling with congestion to the beach don't make it easy.
To give you an idea, on the first day of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in 2014, the NSW Government told people to walk, rather than use the bus.
ABC News Sydney was asked to get to the bottom of the transport predicament after a question through Curious Sydney, our series that reports on stories based on your questions.
Michael Robinson asked: "Why don't we have a train station at Bondi Beach?"
Michael said he seldom ventured to the beach due to the battle with the buses.
"I would have liked to [have] caught the train, but it's just too much hassle for me personally to catch the train and then catch a bus," he said.
"I just found it strange that the most popular tourist attraction does not have a train station."
A station for Bondi Beach was almost a reality in 1997, until the Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) brigade arced up.
Plans were drawn up, money was in hand and rock testing even began — but a classic battle of developer v NIMBYs erupted, with locals fearing a train line would be an eyesore, bring crime from 'the westies' and affect property prices.
But the train trouble goes back much further than that.
A train to the east
To understand the Bondi train debate, you first have to realise it was not always the Harbour City's favourite beach.
In the 1920s, the father of modern Sydney transport, John Bradfield, first proposed an eastern suburbs rail line toward Bondi Junction.
However, his blueprint never included a train all the way to the seaside, because back then neighbouring Clovelly and Bronte beaches were more popular.
So in 1926, the profile for the line was set and tunnels were started at St James. But the great depression and World War II meant construction was abandoned.
The second plan, launched in 1947, proposed the line go all the way to Bondi Beach and construction on tunnels at Central Station was started.
However, the state government ran out of money and work stopped again.
Tools were downed so suddenly, a big hole for tunnelling at Central was left for 20 years and became known as the "Great Chalmers Street hole".
Headlines at the time screamed: "When are they going to finish this?"
The final, and successful, attempt at building an eastern suburbs line did not come until 1979.
The original route extended past Bondi Junction and included stops at Charing Cross, Frenchmans Road, Randwick, the University of NSW and Kingsford.
"But again funding became too much so it was decided that we would truncate the whole thing at Bondi Junction … tunnels were never built beyond," said Chris Harding from the Australian Historical Railway Society.
The opening was monumental. Generations of planners and politicians had been a part of the journey.
Newspapers rolled out special railway opening issues with headlines like "From 19th century dream to 20th century reality".
"The designers have thought of everything," The Southern News said.
"Each station has its name emblazoned in big bold letters on three levels to ensure that passengers will know exactly where they are — a good idea when one considers the speed of the journey."
So it took three attempts over 50 years but today, the eastern suburbs line is among the city's most popular, with Bondi Junction in the top 10 most used stations.
What could have beenA Bondi Beach train was back on the agenda in 1996, when then-NSW premier Bob Carr called for expressions of interest for extending the Eastern Suburbs railway.
But there was a catch — the NSW government did not want to pay a cent.
The Bondi Beach Railway Company (BBRC) was formed — a partnership between Lend Lease and Macquarie Bank — who won the tender to build and maintain the line for 30 years.
After that, all rights to the station, tunnel and track would be transferred to the government.
The $150 million line would travel under Waverley Park and then between Bondi Road and Birrell Street and the preferred location for a station would be underneath South Bondi Park, with an entrance off Queen Elizabeth Drive.
The BBRC proposed a single-line tunnel which would fork at the new station allowing one train to unload as another left but the Government later decided they wanted a double-line to prevent bottle-necking, and agreed to chip in $94 million.
The new and improved trip from the city to the beach would only take 12 minutes — at least 30 minutes quicker than the car journey in peak times.
But convenience has a price, and commuters would be charged a "station access fee" of $2.50 for using the new Bondi Beach platforms.
One of the biggest selling points for the line was its easing of congestion on Bondi's streets, slashing the number of car journeys to the beach by 1.62 million annually.
"There would be a 4.5 per cent increase in people coming to Bondi," Mr Harding said.
"But the argument was a few more people might come, but we are going to get a lot of cars off the road."
Deputy prime minister John Anderson said the station would help, "the elderly, the disabled and a large number of people during special events and peak summer months".
"Construction, creating 200 jobs, is due to commence in 2000 and should take less than three years," he said.
Even opposition spokesperson for transport Michael Photios said it was a welcome project and "no big deal".
Mr Photios would come to eat his words because for many Bondi residents, it was a deal of giant proportions.
"It will be the end of the line for Bondi," actor Michael Caton proclaimed at protests where crowds chanted: "Tell 'em they're dreamin'."
According to Save Bondi Beach Incorporated (SBBI), this plan would change their suburb forever as people from all over Sydney would suddenly have easy access to their haven.
The debate was fierce.
"I actually want to have Bondi quarantined from the rest of Sydney, as the visitors don't pay rates, but the locals, like myself, do," one resident, Doug Richards, said.
"Let everyone else walk from Bondi Junction and pay a toll as they proceed along Bondi Road."
In November of 1997, anti-rail locals got their hands dirty trying to prove their point and were blamed by police for an attack on a drilling rig, which resulted in a spill of hundreds of litres of diesel into the ocean.
The drilling truck was carrying out tests for the proposed rail line.
SBBI argued the rail line would spell "disaster" for the suburb's "fragile" mix of socio-economic groups, and the improved accessibility would lead to an increase in crime and homelessness.
Even the Uniting Church of Australia had its say.
"We express our strong opposition to the proposed Bondi Beach Rail Link. Our … concern is that there will be a likely increase in social problems in the area," they said in a SBBI newsletter.
Many were convinced Bondi would be the next Gold Coast due to the fact one half of the consortium was Lend Lease, a property developer.
The fear was that the opening of a beachside station would be the opening of the floodgates to skyscrapers.
"The face of Bondi's foreshore will rapidly turn into a strip of fast food joints, games arcades and pubs and will be dominated by the high-rise condominiums, hotels and glitzy shopping malls that are Lend Lease's greatest field of expertise," SBBI argued.
BBRC disputed this, arguing there was no property development associated with the project and ruling out building above the station.
There was also a green argument against tunnelling to the heritage-listed beach, which SBBI argued was a "sacred site" of beauty.
Under BBRC's plan, about 475 square metres of park at South Bondi would be lost — less than 1 per cent of the total open space in the area.
But that didn't stop opponents, who labelled the BBRC "environmental vandals" who were spoiling their open space with "an ugly private railway".
Instead NIMBYs pushed for better traffic management, improvements to the bus system and a tram line — which Bondi did have before they 'shot through' in 1960.
'Keep the westies out'After five years of arguments, hot-blooded protesting and even fake news about the station's impact, the NSW government dumped its plans for a Bondi railway.
However, their final decision was based more on economics than emotion.
In 2000, Sydney's Airport Line — a privately run railway connecting the CBD with the domestic and international terminals at Kingsford Smith — went into liquidation, as a result of underwhelming patronage numbers.
The business modelling for Bondi Beach's railway was similar to the Airport Line and hence the government became nervous.
"The proposal … would pose too great a risk to taxpayers," then-transport minister Carl Scully said in 2001.
So the flailing Airport Line was the final nail in the Bondi Beach railway's coffin.
"Straight away, the Bondi Beach Railway Company said, 'Whoa, we don't think this is a good idea'," Mr Harding said.
"If the Airport Line was a success the Bondi Beach line would have happened."
Despite the government's decision to scrap the railway being largely economic, public opinion was more fractured.
Many people from outside Sydney's leafy eastern suburbs felt Bondi's NIMBY brigade pushed the state government to back down though their relentless campaigning.
They were derided as local yuppies who wanted to lock the beach up for themselves.
"There is this celebrity class who believe they would like to make it like Malibu … it's fairly shameful 'keep westies out' concept," said Chris Brown of the lobby group Tourism Task Force.
The futureThe idea has not been floated since, and today the Bondi Junction bus-rail interchange is one of Sydney's busiest with 8,823,365 Opal tap-ons between March 2017 and February 2018.
But Mayor of Waverley John Wakefield, whose municipality includes Bondi, described public transport in the area as "completely unsatisfactory".
"The buses quite literally are full at peak times and don't stop at stops because they are so full," he said.
But according to Mr Wakefield, a train extension was not the answer.
"We don't want Bondi to become like the Gold Coast," he said.
"Bondi Junction is the ideal location for a bus-rail interchange."
The former urban economist said buses are king in his area, but that services needed to be improved in the way of circular routing, stop-start services up Bondi Road and larger buses.
The key to unlock Bondi's train future could be held in the construction of Sydney's light rail though, which is due to be completed in 2020.
That line will link Circular Quay to Randwick in the eastern suburbs.
Mr Harding predicted that if patronage was strong, the light rail could be extended to include Bondi Beach.
The State Government said they did not have heavy rail in mind, but would look to deliver some kind of fix as part of their 40-year transport vision.
"Future Transport 2056 has identified investigations of integrated mass-transit options to Bondi Beach as part of the strategy," a spokesperson said.
"While the priority for access to Bondi Beach is likely to remain on-street transit in the short term, these corridor studies will consider several options in the future, including rapid buses, light rail, metro and other new technologies."
If history is any indication however, that could be easier said than done.
The fabric of Bondi is a unique one, and its residents will continue to mobilise to protect their eccentric suburb.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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