Centenary of joining the trans-Australia line, October 17 2017

 
  Lad_Porter Deputy Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
The following is copied from the March 17th 2017 issue of the "Westprint Friday Five", a weekly newsletter put out by Westprint Maps - http://www.westprint.com.au .  It is copied here because probably some people on these forums would be interested in what is happening.   Surprised  

Centenary of the joining of the Trans Australian Railway Line - October 17, 2017.

Mark the date! An official Centenary Ceremony and replacing the memorials is going ahead.

The debate in the Friday Five about the dilapidated state of the memorials marking the joining of the Trans Australian Railway Line has been going on for a few years now with many and varied solutions put forward. In addition, we have been discussing a formal event at Ooldea. A group of Westprint FF readers and local 4WD club members have been planning to go to Ooldea to mark this centenary, even if it was nothing more than a few 4WDs assembling in the area to acknowledge the significance of the event.

I am very happy to report that there has been considerable progress over the past few months.

Late in 2015 I saw a concept paper prepared by Bob Sampson, Executive Officer of the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide regarding options for the event. In September 2016. Rural Development Australia – Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP) came on board. I know that many people have been working behind the scenes to have this occasion recognised with due ceremony and it now looks a certainty that their hard work will pay off.


Event Coordinator.

Leon Ashton, from Quorn, has been appointed as the Event Coordinator to project manage the logistics for holding the celebration at the rail link site near Ooldea. Leon is the former Caretaker and Manager of Maralinga Village, and has extensive knowledge and experience of working in the vicinity of the Nullarbor Plain and Trans Australian Railway line.

Memorial

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has built steel replicas of the 1967 monuments from the original plans. They will be unveiled at the centenary.


Camping/Attending.

A database has been established of people who have indicated interest in attending the celebration. If you are interested please register with Bob Ramsey, Special Projects Manager RDAWEP. bob.ramsay@rdawep.org.au

Details required: your email address, number of vehicles interested, approx. number of people attending, your location (home town), contact mobile phone number.


Official Ceremony

The National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide is handling the list of official guests and speakers. This information will be advised when known.


Other events.

The Shire of Port Augusta, Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society and the National Railway museum have also been working on events to be held in the commemorate this event. Activities being investigated include

A steam train re-enactment from Quorn to Port Augusta on the weekend of 21st and 22nd October 2017. The original 1917 route from Adelaide, was via broad gauge to Terowie, then a change of trains onto narrow gauge from Terowie to Quorn and through Pichi Richi Pass, and onto Port Augusta. It is planned that the PRR special will be formed using an appropriate similar locomotive and carriages from that era. Other historical displays and activities at Port Augusta railway station are planned for that weekend. The National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide will also launch a Trans Australian Railway Centenary exhibition during September 2017, which will centre around the original 1917 built steam locomotive G1, which was operated by the Commonwealth Railways, and is now on display at the museum.


The following information is from the Track & Signal Magazine.


Historical Overview

The linking of the Trans Australian Railway line on 17 October 1917 marked a momentous occasion in Australia’s infrastructure development.

The simultaneous construction of the 1,692km railway line west from Port Augusta and east from Kalgoorlie during 1912-17 was an incredible achievement given the circumstances at the time. Much of the construction occurred during World War One when communications, men, machinery and materials were scarce. The work was manually intensive and the line was built across a remote, vast and desolate environment, which entailed complex and difficult management, operational and supply logistics.

The railway was built using two separate track building teams – starting from Kalgoorlie and from Port Augusta. Two Roberts track laying machines, imported from the United States of America, were used to achieve good steady progress with the laying of sleepers and rails – albeit with a lot of manual help. The joining of the rails took place when the two track laying teams met a few kilometres west of Ooldea – approximately 995 kilometres from Kalgoorlie and 697 kilometres from Port Augusta. This occurred at 1.45pm SA time, on Wednesday 17 October 1917.

Use of the railway line was quickly implemented. The first westbound train left Port Augusta railway station on the morning of Monday 22 October 1917, arriving in Kalgoorlie on the afternoon of Wednesday 24 October – nearly 43 hours after leaving Port Augusta.

The train was hauled by no less than ten separate G class steam locomotives throughout the journey, due to mechanical problems en route.

The first return eastbound train left Kalgoorlie on Thursday 25 October, arriving in Port Augusta on Sunday 28 October 1917. The linking of the rails connected the east and west coasts of Australia by train. However, the route from Sydney to Perth was time consuming, disruptive and costly, due to the need to change trains to travel across the three different rail gauges (narrow, broad and standard) being used at the time.

It took until January 1970 for a standard gauge railway line to link Sydney and Perth, however different gauges were still in use between Melbourne, Adelaide and Port Pirie. Melbourne and Adelaide were eventually linked with standard gauge in 1995. This enabled a train to operate on the same rail gauge from Brisbane through to Sydney and onto Melbourne and Adelaide, before continuing to Perth.


50th Anniversary Monuments

The monuments unveiled at the 50th anniversary in 1967 were designed, built and installed by the Commonwealth Railways. The main structure was comprised largely of a timber frame sealed with plywood, supporting rail steels and commemorative signage. However, the timber fabric was not sufficiently robust to withstand the environmental conditions, and the monuments deteriorated and collapsed.

A primary objective of the rail link centenary event, as proposed in Bob Sampson’s 2015 concept paper, is to replace the monuments. Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) – the owner and operator of the Trans Australian Railway - has consequently constructed replicas of the 1967 monuments in steel from the original plans, which will be installed at the link site and unveiled at the 100th anniversary celebration.


Question for FF Mob.

On the existing memorial are two pieces of steel track, one from each state. The SA track is marked BHP while the WA steel is marked USA. I was told that the reason for this was that the two states were in competition to build the longest part of the railway. Consequently, the South Australia team held up supplies of BHP steel from Broken Hill to Western Australia. The Western Australian team eventually had to source their steel from USA.

Can anyone verify this story?

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  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I am planning on attending as I was in attendance at the Port Augusta Ceremony in September 2012.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Never mind about those who were involved in the preparations for the 50th Anniversary of the joining of the rails.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
'Question for FF Mob.

On the existing memorial are two pieces of steel track, one from each state. The SA track is marked BHP while the WA steel is marked USA.
I was told that the reason for this was that the two states were in competition to build the longest part of the railway. Consequently, the South Australia team held up supplies of BHP steel from Broken Hill to Western Australia. The Western Australian team eventually had to source their steel from USA.

Can anyone verify this story?'

Not having any idea who the 'FF Mob' is or might be I will throw in my two bobs worth.

With due respect (an old railway term):

I believe that it's rubbish!

Firstly, the statement:

'Consequently, the South Australia team held up supplies of BHP steel from Broken Hill to Western Australia.

This is demonstrably rubbish as the completed SG did not reach Broken Hill until 1927 ie 10 years after the Trans-Australian Railway was complete. For good measure how would these rails have reached the Western Division anyway?

In 1912 King O'Malley stated that locally (Australian) produced rails would be given 'fair preference when tenders were considered' and, in fact, the first contracts confirmed this when Cameron and Co. received a contract for 16,810 tons of English rails. Elder Smith received an order for a similar quantity to be imported from the USA. The Australian firm of Hoskins Brothers received an order for 9,530 tons of Australian made rails at a considerably higher price. All these were 80 pound/yard in 33 foot lengths.

Early in 1914 Elder Smith received another order for 37,190 tons also of US origin and Hoskins got a contract for a further 10,000 tons of Australian rails, again at a higher price.

Bear in mind that all rails would have been delivered by sea and it seems unlikely (to me anyway) that rails for the Western Division would have been distributed by other than proper management decision.

The almost complete cessation of imports of steel rails brought about by WW 1 meant that all orders for rails after about 1915 went to Australian firms, principally BHP, who was unable to cope with demands. Shortages of rails did occur at this time and resulted in the stoppage of track laying on the Western Division around Christmas 1916 having been slowed for some months. Tracklaying on the Eastern Division continued however and, as we know, the two tracklayers met on 17 October 1917 just west of Ooldea.

Whilst also 80 pound/yard, BHP rolled rails were in 40 foot lengths rather than the 33 foot imported material.

Using Ooldea as a reference point (and round figures) the Western tracklayers laid roughly 200 miles more track that the Eastern gang. Roughly 624 miles (1,004 km) v 427 miles (687 km).
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Not having any idea who the 'FF Mob' is or might be I will throw in my two bobs worth.

With due respect (an old railway term):

I believe that it's rubbish!

Firstly, the statement:

'Consequently, the South Australia team held up supplies of BHP steel from Broken Hill to Western Australia.

This is demonstrably rubbish as the completed SG did not reach Broken Hill until 1927 ie 10 years after the Trans-Australian Railway was complete. For good measure how would these rails have reached the Western Division anyway?

In 1912 King O'Malley stated that locally (Australian) produced rails would be given 'fair preference when tenders were considered' and, in fact, the first contracts confirmed this when Cameron and Co. received a contract for 16,810 tons of English rails. Elder Smith received an order for a similar quantity to be imported from the USA. The Australian firm of Hoskins Brothers received an order for 9,530 tons of Australian made rails at a considerably higher price. All these were 80 pound/yard in 33 foot lengths.

Early in 1914 Elder Smith received another order for 37,190 tons also of US origin and Hoskins got a contract for a further 10,000 tons of Australian rails, again at a higher price.

Bear in mind that all rails would have been delivered by sea and it seems unlikely (to me anyway) that rails for the Western Division would have been distributed by other than proper management decision.

The almost complete cessation of imports of steel rails brought about by WW 1 meant that all orders for rails after about 1915 went to Australian firms, principally BHP, who was unable to cope with demands. Shortages of rails did occur at this time and resulted in the stoppage of track laying on the Western Division around Christmas 1916 having been slowed for some months. Tracklaying on the Eastern Division continued however and, as we know, the two tracklayers met on 17 October 1917 just west of Ooldea.

Whilst also 80 pound/yard, BHP rolled rails were in 40 foot lengths rather than the 33 foot imported material.
YM-Mundrabilla
I'd say the "FF Mob" referred to by Lad_Porter is the Westprint newsletter "Friday Five"

On the aspect of "State  rivalry" the line was constructed under the control of the Commonwealth Government not the SAR or WAGR
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Not having any idea who the 'FF Mob' is or might be I will throw in my two bobs worth.

With due respect (an old railway term):

I believe that it's rubbish!

Firstly, the statement:

'Consequently, the South Australia team held up supplies of BHP steel from Broken Hill to Western Australia.

This is demonstrably rubbish as the completed SG did not reach Broken Hill until 1927 ie 10 years after the Trans-Australian Railway was complete. For good measure how would these rails have reached the Western Division anyway?

In 1912 King O'Malley stated that locally (Australian) produced rails would be given 'fair preference when tenders were considered' and, in fact, the first contracts confirmed this when Cameron and Co. received a contract for 16,810 tons of English rails. Elder Smith received an order for a similar quantity to be imported from the USA. The Australian firm of Hoskins Brothers received an order for 9,530 tons of Australian made rails at a considerably higher price. All these were 80 pound/yard in 33 foot lengths.

Early in 1914 Elder Smith received another order for 37,190 tons also of US origin and Hoskins got a contract for a further 10,000 tons of Australian rails, again at a higher price.

Bear in mind that all rails would have been delivered by sea and it seems unlikely (to me anyway) that rails for the Western Division would have been distributed by other than proper management decision.

The almost complete cessation of imports of steel rails brought about by WW 1 meant that all orders for rails after about 1915 went to Australian firms, principally BHP, who was unable to cope with demands. Shortages of rails did occur at this time and resulted in the stoppage of track laying on the Western Division around Christmas 1916 having been slowed for some months. Tracklaying on the Eastern Division continued however and, as we know, the two tracklayers met on 17 October 1917 just west of Ooldea.

Whilst also 80 pound/yard, BHP rolled rails were in 40 foot lengths rather than the 33 foot imported material.
I'd say the "FF Mob" referred to by Lad_Porter is the Westprint newsletter "Friday Five"

On the aspect of "State  rivalry" the line was constructed under the control of the Commonwealth Government not the SAR or WAGR
Pressman
Thanks Pressman.
I forgot to mention that the entire construction was under the control of what became the Commonwealth Railways.
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Thanks Pressman.
I forgot to mention that the entire construction was under the control of what became the Commonwealth Railways.
YM-Mundrabilla
If you google the Wiki page on the Trans Australia railway there is a link to a pdf of the Federal Government act for the construction
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
'The National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide will also launch a Trans Australian Railway Centenary exhibition during September 2017, which will centre around the original 1917 built steam locomotive G1, which was operated by the Commonwealth Railways, and is now on display at the museum. '

G1 or G2 - (whatever) was built by Clyde in 1913 and entered service in 1914 rather than 1917.
  Radioman Junior Train Controller

Hello All,

Some interesting things about the TAR . It was paid for by printing money on as required basis which was then withdrawn from circulation at a later date, hence the CR never carried a debt !

Interesting to how BHP rolled the then relatively new length of 40 ft , which did not become general practice in the UK until after WW1 and was surprisingly even later in the US.

The VR adopted Thermit Welding of track in the late 1920s , yet this commendable practice ceased for a while after WW2 due to an English track engineer being appointed, another retrograde move. Metro Trains do not seem to be a fan of Thermit Welding either. ( it's the Huns you know, invented in Germany, initially for tram tracks , therefore not invented here in England )

And King o'Malley apparently came from that well known Canadian Province ( which meant that he was a British Subject and therefore eligible to stand for Parliament ) of Texas , that famous Canadian Province that borders Mexico !

The Russian Red October Revolution actually took place in the Gregorian Calendar ( of 1582 ) month of November. ( at that time Russia used the Julian Calendar of 45BC )

Best wishes to all , Radioman.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Sorry @Radioman but I don't think that the arrangements for financing the Trans-Australian Railway were quite as simple as you state.

It is a pity that we don't have a few more politicians of the calibre of King O'Malley who, in addition to what became the Commonwealth Railways, founded the Commonwealth Bank (to avoid 'the money lenders of England'). O'Malley also played a large part in the foundation of Canberra. (All we have now are politicians hell bent on sale and destruction..............).

I agree that there is doubt as to whether O'Malley was born in Canada or the USA.
  Lad_Porter Deputy Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
Many thanks to everyone for your replies, and I have been asked to pass this on as well:  'The author of the original article would like to thank those who commented and shared their information about the railway line. It has answered many questions and raised a few more'.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: On a freight train to crazy town
ABC Radio interview this morning http://http://www.abc.net.au/radio/adelaide/programs/sundaymorning/trans-australian-railway/8387778
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Try this if Bingley's link doesn't work for you.

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/adelaide/programs/sundaymorning/trans-australian-railway/8387778

A lot of talk about the time of joining the rails being at 1345 on 17/10/1917. What time zone was this? Anyone know definitely, please?
Time zones were different until the ~1960s.
  Lockspike Train Controller

Sorry @Radioman but I don't think that the arrangements for financing the Trans-Australian Railway were quite as simple as you state.
YM-Mundrabilla
Maybe what Radioman is saying is an oversimplification, but I have heard much the same from a long lived (now deceased) ex NSW Dept of Main Roads engineer who, while being a road man was enthusiastic about railways (not necessarily about trains) and was keen to see the advancement of std gauge across the country.
He, incidently was the DMR's division engineer at Broken Hill during the late 60s and actively involved himself in the alignment design of the new std gauge route through Broken Hill. As well as being keen to see the break of gauge eliminated, he saw a large reduction in the number of level crossings in the town, thereby improving both road and rail safety.
Anyway, I remember him telling me (and bear in mind this was recent history when he was a young man) that the Feds built the Trans simply by guaranteeing to pay the bills as they arose.

I know the Trans was only built to bring WA into the Commonwealth, but even so we must have had some nation building visionaries as politicians in those days.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Sorry @Radioman but I don't think that the arrangements for financing the Trans-Australian Railway were quite as simple as you state.
Maybe what Radioman is saying is an oversimplification, but I have heard much the same from a long lived (now deceased) ex NSW Dept of Main Roads engineer who, while being a road man was enthusiastic about railways (not necessarily about trains) and was keen to see the advancement of std gauge across the country.
He, incidently was the DMR's division engineer at Broken Hill during the late 60s and actively involved himself in the alignment design of the new std gauge route through Broken Hill. As well as being keen to see the break of gauge eliminated, he saw a large reduction in the number of level crossings in the town, thereby improving both road and rail safety.
Anyway, I remember him telling me (and bear in mind this was recent history when he was a young man) that the Feds built the Trans simply by guaranteeing to pay the bills as they arose.

I know the Trans was only built to bring WA into the Commonwealth, but even so we must have had some nation building visionaries as politicians in those days.
Lockspike
Perhaps the following may (or may not help) re the financing of the TAR. I sent a slightly modified version of this to Radioman as a PM a few days ago.

Here are a couple of links on the financing of the TAR (Trans-Australian Railway) that might be of interest:

[color=#0066cc]The trans-Australian railway facts versus fiction - School of ...
[color=#0066cc]Trans-australian Railway. [/color][/color]
[color=#0066cc]To The Editor .Of .The Herald. - Google News

(Hope that they work)
[/color]

The financing of the Trans was explained to me many many years ago by the then CR Comptroller of Accounts and Audit but I didn't understand it then and I am by no means sure that I have any better idea now.

Suffice it to say that in 1910/11, when the Kalgoorlie - Port Augusta Railway Act was passed, the Commonwealth not only had no debt but also had a long standing policy opposing loan finance. Commonwealth revenue prior to 1910 was largely its share of customs and excise duties and any surplus from these was distributed to the States. After 1910 the Commonwealth could keep any surplus. In addition to the TAR the Commonwealth was also building the Royal Australian Navy and taking over South Australia’s Oodnadatta and Northern Territory Railways at this time.

In December 1911 a Loan Bill authorising a loan from ‘Trust Fund Moneys’ (whatever they are/were?) was passed to help fund construction work.

Despite the ‘no loans’ policy Andrew Fisher was successful in passing the First Loan Act for $1,000,000 in 1912. Although the Trans was financed largely by ‘loan’ money no Australian or Overseas public loans were floated specifically for it.

I am not sure that the following article helps much:

[color=#0066cc][font=Arial, sans-serif]The story of the Commonwealth railway and the note issue / by DJ Amos.[/font][/color]

No idea who Amos is/was but he can't spell Nullarbor or the name of the GG of the day who was Denman not Denham.

The above is one of a series by Amos on such things as the Commonwealth Bank, the Commonwealth Shipping Line and the Commonwealth Oil Refinery.

Had we still all of these instrumentalities plus the SEC and PMG/Telstra etc we would be able to control the banks, the oil companies and a hell of a lot of other things plus cream off the profits for the public good.

It seems fairly obvious that the Commonwealth in building the Trans-Australia Railway was responsible for paying for it even if it meant borrowing the money from itself.

I certainly share your view of the calibre of the politicians then when compared to those that we have now.

Do we have any shifty bean counters on here who can explain the whole thing for our mutual benefit?
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
According to "Stamp Bulletin" Australia Post is advertising special coins celebrating the above from the Mint.

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