The corridor to the disused station master’s office under Central Station / Picture: Chris McKeen
OUTSIDE Tony Eid’s office at Sydney Trains is a giant “bird’s eye” view of Sydney’s electric train routes with the Harbour Bridge and the City Circle stations easily identifiable in red.
“It is fantastic,” said Mr Eid, Sydney Trains director of operations, “particularly when you realise this map was drawn in 1915, long before any of this was built.”
The name of the draughtsman and visionary sits in pride of place in the top left corner of the map — John Bradfield.
SYDNEY TRAINS: WHERE WE CAME FROM, WHERE WE’RE GOING
Tony Eid, Director of Operations for Sydney Trains, at St James station / Picture: Bradley Hunter
“The vision he had for mapping the Sydney transport network was remarkable,” Mr Eid said. “And much of what he foresaw is keeping Sydneysiders moving today.”
Apart from the Bridge, one of the key elements of Bradfield’s vision in his 1915 rail map was the City Circle. But it took a long time to become reality: Museum and St James stations were opened in 1926, and Town Hall and Wynyard in 1932.
INSIDE THE TUNNELS
Tunnels run underneath Sydney’s Central Station. Photos: Chris McKeen
The only remaining evidence of a gun battle which took place at Central Station in 1916 is a small bullet-hole in the marble by the entrance to platform 1. Photos: Chris McKeen
At Central Station it takes quite a while to get down to platforms 26 and 27 — the ghost platforms that sit underneath the concourse and above platforms 24 and 25.
“They were built and never used. The tunnels only go in a few metres at either end,” Mr Eid said.
Workers who go down there report the sounds of children playing but this stops and the platform goes icy cold when anyone approaches.
“We have thought about using the platforms for various things but it has never worked out,” he said.
BRADFIELD, THE VISIONARY WHO BUILT THE BRIDGE
The platforms are an anomaly in a modern rail network that is set on moving forward.
The City Circle only became a circle with the opening of the station at Circular Quay in 1956.
“It works on so many levels,” Mr Eid said. “The rationale was to have a lot of trains moving through the city without having to stop and turn around at a terminus.”
There are actually two circles, one pumping trains through Town Hall and back to Central and the other moving carriages in the opposite direction through Museum.
“In the near future we are looking to have 20 trains an hour passing through the City Circle, that’s one train every three minutes.”
That is a step closer to the timetable free system similar to the London Underground that Mr Eid and the NSW government wants.
Already under construction is the South West Rail Link from Glenfield to Leppington, and the metro-style North West Rail Link from Rouse Hill to Chatswood. It is the first phase of the Sydney Rapid Transit Network that will see trains travelling to Bankstown via a proposed second harbour rail crossing. “The answer is not more roads, it is better train networks to move people quickly from door to door.”
The train’s renaissance as the fast and efficient transport of the future is seen as vindication of
Bradfield’s vision and common sense to lifetime train lovers like Mr Eid.
Tony Eid with chains used to shackle prisoners in a disused cell under Central Station / Picture: Chris McKeen
“I started here as a telephone boy when I was 15 in 1979 and moved on to signal boxes,” said Mr Eid, whose three children grew up spending Christmas and Easter lunches in the signal box at Epping.
Mr Eid worked his way through the ranks, delivering rail solutions for the Sydney Olympics and acting as a consultant with rail networks in London, Paris and New York.
Mr Eid also has a great love of the past. Walk through Central Station and he will show you the bullet hole from the 1916 riots.
“I won’t let them change it,” he said. “Today we are building on the genius of Bradfield’s vision.’’