Monday, 23 June 2014

1979: Opening of the Eastern Suburbs Railway Line

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Official Opening of the Eastern Suburbs Railway Line between Central and Bondi Junction. Four new stations joined the CityRail Network: Martin Place Kings Cross, Edgecliff and Bondi Junction. It was the first rail line in Sydney to have all its stations underground. For the first two years of operation, it was a shuttle service between Central and Bondi Junction. It was connected to the Illawarra Line in 1981 and Redfern also got its underground platforms (11 and 12).

On that day in 1979, it was a Saturday and the Premier Neville Wran had the honours of officially declaring the line open.

Below are two advertisements promoting the opening of the line. For the opening weekend, travel was free. After that a single trip cost between 10 and 30 cents.

Eastern Suburbs Opening Ad June 21 1979 the sun 27

Source: Public Transport Commission of New South Wales. 1979. "Be our guests, take a free train ride on the new Eastern Suburbs Railway," The Sun, June 21, 27. 

Eastern Suburbs official opening ad 1979 daily telegraph june 25 

Source: Public Transport Commission of New South Wales. 1979. "Eastern Suburbs Railway Now Open," The Daily Telegraph, June 25, 32. 

At Bondi Junction, it was an excuse to celebrate:

  Bondi Junction Eastern Suburbs opening Ad June 1979

Source: Bondi Junction Plaza. 1979. "The Railway Opening Festival of Fun", The Sun, June 22, 8. 

Eastern Suburbs Rail Line opens June 25 1979 daily telegraph (1)

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph reported (above) on June 25 that about 250 000 people took advantage of the opening weekend and free rides. There were long queues at stations and platforms overflowed with people.

Most Sydney newspapers were happy. The Daily Telegraph in its editorial on June 25 praised its completion and its addition to the existing rail network. With the Second Oil Crisis underway it also highlighted the dependence on the motor car and the need to rely on it when one could not use their car. The Sun was quite similar in its view on June 25. The rail line actually made providing transport to Sydney's east even cheaper to about $1.5 million per year. If the oil crisis continued, the savings could increase. However The Sydney Morning Herald in its editorial on June 23 was critical, suggesting the Eastern Suburbs did not need it and should have focused spending on improving public transport in the outer suburbs.

Originally, the line was to extend south from Bondi Junction through to Waverley (Charing Cross), Randwick, the University of NSW and Kingsford. The line was to be built in four stages: Edgecliff (1973), Bondi Junction (1974), Randwick (1976) and Kingsford (1977).

Eastern Suburbs Rail Line March 1 1967 daily telegraph 7

Source: State Political Roundsman. 1967. "$12 million a mile track: Bondi Junction on Rail Route," The Daily Telegraph, March 1, 7.

Rushcutters Bay was originally set to have a station but was axed in 1969. It was deemed unviable due to the construction of the William Street tunnel and "small population". Wollahara was also to get its own railway station but construction stopped in 1976 as part of cost cutting but locals also objected to having their own station.

The platforms  between Edgecliff and Bondi Junction are a reminder of what could have been.

Source: Cohen, S. B. 1994. Untitled. accessed June 17, 2014, 

By completion in 1979, it was five years behind schedule.