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View Full Version : Vale Carlingford Line 1888-2020



pware
January 3rd, 2020, 09:59 PM
Today, Sat Jan 4th 2020, is the last day of operation for this little known line in Sydney's north west. The line runs from Clyde, the junction with the main western commuter line, up "the hill" to Carlingford, a distance of just over 7kms to the north with 7 stations. It was my local line with my residence a short walk from the second last station, Telopea. However in recent years I seldom used it for the reasons described below. From 2023 the line will become part of the Parramatta Light Rail (or tramway) running between Carlingford and Westmead via Parramatta.

When originally opened it was a rural line carrying produce from the many market gardens in the area to the Sydney markets. It also served the Rosehill Racecourse, the first station after Clyde, and that section of the line will be retained. Plans to extend the line further north from Carlingford never eventuated. It continued in this rural role, with some passenger services, until the 1950s when the market gardens started to disappear and were replaced with housing developments as Sydneys suburban boundaries spread further outwards. Some industrial freight and produce services continued to run until the 1980s.

It was the last Sydney line to run steam passenger services and was using kerosene powered signal lights until 1992.

From the 1990s onwards the housing developments started to be replaced by high rise apartment blocks, particularly at Carlingford and to a lesser extent at other stations. While this should have been a boost to passenger numbers, the line had some serious drawbacks as a viable commuter service. Its steep grades, the steepest in the Sydney commuter network, meant that many of the types of commuter trains used in Sydney could not operate on the line. The fact that it was a single line with no passing loops for nearly all of its 7km length severly restricted its running timetable - theoretically two trains an hour were possible but more realistically one train ran every 45-50 minutes which made memorising the timetable impossible. Finally, apart from the junction station at Clyde, all its platforms were short and were only able to accomodate trains of up to 4 cars in length. During all of its history, passenger services consisted of a shuttle train running between Carlingford and Clyde where passengers had to change for other commuter destinations.

The demographics of the area have also changed. Most locals now travel to and from the commercial, education and retail centre at nearby Parramatta which has a far better commuter service, so they abandoned the line in favour of their cars or the many direct bus connections that are available. Changing trains at Clyde and the infrequent services meant that the line was not an attractive option. As a result, it had the lowest passenger patronage figures of any Sydney commuter line. Hence the decision to build a new light rail connection to Carlingford that would better serve the commuters needs and save a lot of money by using most of the existing heavy rail corridor.

From tomorrow the Carlingford Line will be replaced by an all stations bus service between Carlingford and Parramatta (except Clyde). The off-peak bus timetable gives commuters a service every 15-20 minutes and a peak hour service every 6 minutes - times that the train service could never match. This will continue until 2023 when the new light rail service opens - but the Government's record of delivering light rail lines on time and within budget is woeful, to say the least.



Millennium Set M30 waits at Clyde station for the next shuttle service to Carlingford on the last day of operations for that line.
https://i.postimg.cc/MHPZXKz2/Clyde.png

At Carlingford, more people and well wishers were on the platform than at most other times in its history. The final run will be at 01:15 the following morning.

https://i.postimg.cc/7hYYxT8n/Carlingford.png

Mkultra04
January 3rd, 2020, 10:28 PM
Such a shame, I always hate hearing about closers and abandonments. At least this line will see service again eventually!

JCitron
January 7th, 2020, 06:13 PM
I agree it's sad to see closures, but at least this line will retain rails in one form or another over here we're not so lucky. In the late 1970's Boston's commuter lines were being trimmed back due to cost-cutting moves. In 1980 the Lexington Branch, which ran from Cambridge up to Bedford was lopped off and turned to a bicycle path. The "T" had plans to turn this busy line into a light rail line that brought passengers to the Alweife station where they could switch over to either the commuter rail, or over to the MBTA Red line subway through Harvard Square into Boston. The locals in Arlington came out in big crowds with the NIMBYs speaking loudly against the service because they didn't want the riffraff coming in from the ghettos. Seriously as if the people couldn't walk there. So after the big fight, the rails were ripped up unceremoniously. An old DMU (B&M Buddliner) was stuff parked up at Bedford in front of the depot, now an ice cream parlor, and the rest of the ROW paved over.

The biggest proponents for the service was the newly privatized Hanscom Field, which is also a small air force base. There are commuter planes flying in and out of the airport there along with military planes. There's also a huge number of industrial parks (industrial estates) with hundreds of commuters commuting to the area as well as those commuting to Boston. Today the traffic truly sucks, to put it mildly, and yes there are regrets for not turning the line into a light rail line in the first place.

pware
January 7th, 2020, 10:20 PM
Yes, what seemed to be the best solution at the time is often regretted much later. Sydney into the 1950s had one of the largest and most extensive tram networks in the world. By early 1961 it was all gone - ripped up and replaced by buses or by cars.

Just a few weeks ago trams returned to the city centre - at a cost of nearly $AU3 billion - $AU1 billion over budget and 12 months behind schedule ... and that does not include the additional costs from the upcoming litigation from angry (and often bankrupted) storekeepers due to the extended disruption; residents from the endless construction noise; and the contractor for the poor planning by the Transport Department.

JCitron
January 10th, 2020, 11:55 AM
Yes, what seemed to be the best solution at the time is often regretted much later. Sydney into the 1950s had one of the largest and most extensive tram networks in the world. By early 1961 it was all gone - ripped up and replaced by buses or by cars.

Just a few weeks ago trams returned to the city centre - at a cost of nearly $AU3 billion - $AU1 billion over budget and 12 months behind schedule ... and that does not include the additional costs from the upcoming litigation from angry (and often bankrupted) storekeepers due to the extended disruption; residents from the endless construction noise; and the contractor for the poor planning by the Transport Department.

The same in my area. The "T" is restoring two lines into Somerville Union Square, and one to Medford Square. Both had extensive service until the late 1950's when it was replaced by buses. In the 1960's I remember seeing the tracks still in the street in Somerville along Cambridge Street and Broadway, and the old trolley barn on Cambridge still had tracks and wires up. Where a big shopping plaza and bus yard exists today, used to be the tram car barn and yard for the Medford Square. The station still exists because it's architecturally significant and a listed historical site, but there are no other signs that the tracks used to be there.

The new lines being built, at a much greater expense, something like $100 million right now but that will soar to the $100's of millions when completed after the contractors get their hands on it. The delays that have occurred so far have put the project behind 2 years minimum, and knowing how things go, the project will drag on for at least 5 years or more with much, much higher costs than have already occurred.

The kicker here is the new lines don't even go close to the original routes and instead follow the MBTA commuter lines instead. These lines are the former Boston and Maine RR's original Boston and Lowell (ca. 1835), and Fitchburg RR (ca. 1842) mainlines, and the stations will be there in name only.