As one drives into Goulburn, the roadside signs proudly proclaim it to be Australia’s first inland city, rivalling Bathurst which is the oldest inland settlement in Australia.
In many respects the two cities share many similarities:
• both are located approximately 200 kms from Sydney and are the major centres within their respective rural
• each are centres of education and had Teachers Colleges which became Colleges of Advanced Education (the
Goulburn facility subsequently closed and the site became the New South Wales Police Academy, which relocated to
Goulburn from Sydney in 1984).
The two cities were both important rail centres, with the railway reaching Goulburn in May 1869 and Bathurst in April 1876, after the bridge across the Macquarie River was completed. Each had major workshops and prior to dieselisation of the Main South and Main West in the 1960s, were the biggest locomotive depots and servicing facilities for their respective Divisions. The Divisional Locomotive Superintendent, South who oversaw the locomotive depots and staff was based at Goulburn and his opposite number for the West was based at Bathurst. After Eveleigh (Depot No 1) and Broadmeadow (No 2), Goulburn was Depot No 3, Bathurst
No 4 and Junee No 5.
The Southern Division
The Southern Division was officially defined as ‘Menangle (exclusive) to Albury and Branches’. It did not include the Demondrille to Blayney line (which was actually part of Lithgow Traffic District) but Goulburn Train Control did oversee operations as far as Young. As mentioned above, Goulburn was the most important rail centre within the Southern Division.
The four major Branches with senior officers located in Goulburn were:
• Traffic – District Superintendent and Train Control,
• Mechanical – Divisional Locomotive Superintendent (DLS) and District Locomotive Engineer (DLE),
• Way and Works – Division Engineer, and
• Signal and Telegraph – District Signal Engineer Goulburn
The view of the north end of Goulburn yard, taken from the footbridge at the Sydney end of the station. The goods shed and Station Box are clearly visible. Connolly’s flour mill can be seen in the distance, on the northern side of the Goldsmith Street level crossing.
Except for the DLE, who was based at the locomotive depot at South Goulburn, all of the above senior offices and their staff were housed in office buildings adjacent to the station in Sloane Street.
The Stores Branch had a presence at the workshops complex, which was located on the Up side of the main lines, between the station and the Blackshaw Road underpass.
The boundaries of Goulburn Traffic District were from Menangle (exclusive) to Cootamundra North (exclusive), which meant that Wallendbeen was the last manned station and signal box and also from Moss Vale to Robertson on the Unanderra-Moss Vale line. The Crookwell, Bombala, Captains Flat and Canberra, Yass Town and Boorowa lines were also part of Goulburn District.
As was the case on the Main West, where Sydney West Control operated to Lithgow Yard Box, the South “Board” controlled trains as far as North Goulburn, from where
Goulburn took over, controlling operations on the main line as far as Wallendbeen. There was also a second train control board that supervised operations on the Bombala line, to Cooma and Canberra .
In 1976, when Goulburn assumed responsibility for train control operations as far as Young (up until then, these were under the direct control of the Station Master at Harden) it also took over the section Demondrille to Maimaru (exclusive) from Lithgow District on the cross-country line. Goulburn Train Control was closed on 11 March 1989; Sydney’s jurisdiction was extended to Joppa Junction, from where Junee assumed responsibility for all train operations.
Perhaps the one aspect that singled Goulburn out was the safe working arrangements, which were pointed out to me by Hayden Holmes during 1965, when I first travelled to there by train. At the time, Hayden was an NSWGR signalman and his knowledge of the Main South was quite amazing. As opposed to the other major Southern Division centres that had two signal boxes (Moss Vale, Harden, Cootamundra, Junee and Albury) there were four signal boxes at Goulburn and all four
were located on the Up side.
These four facilities and their physical location were:
• Goulburn North – just south of the Goldsmith Street level crossing;
• Goulburn Station Box – immediately to the north of the station, adjacent to the goods shed and straddling No 1 goods siding;
• Goulburn South – between the per-way workshops and Mundy Street overbridge; and
• South Goulburn Loco Yard – opposite the locomotive coal stage and at the southern end of the Up Marshalling Yard (also known as the Wheat yard).
Except for ‘Loco box’ which was “cut in” as required, the other three signal boxes were manned on a continuous basis.
North box also controlled the junction for the branch line to Crookwell.
Automatic signalling, with upper quadrant signals was in force from Marulan to North Goulburn (just to the north of the Old Hume Highway overbridge), with double line track block to Goulburn South and double line block telegraph from there to Breadalbane, where it was again automatic signalling, with upper quadrant signals to Yass Junction.
When the Department of Railways became the Rail Division of the Public Transport Commission (PTC) of NSW in October 1972, one area which came under scrutiny was the hours that signal boxes needed to be open. During 1973 the PTC Chief Commissioner, Philip Shirley, spoke of the working at Goulburn and identified this as a priority project. However, elimination of these costly arrangements was not made until well after he had ceased office in November 1975.
The first stage of the re-signalling project was replacement of block telegraph working by automatic signalling, with single light indications from Joppa Junction to Breadalbane; this eliminated the signal box at the latter location, which had to be manned as a changeover point between safeworking systems, together with Yarra, which was “cut in” as required.
The new centralised Goulburn Signal box was not commissioned until December 1979 and it enable elimination of the four boxes at Goulburn, together with Joppa Junction, Yarra and Breadalbane – a total of seven manual signal boxes being replaced by one central power operated facility. Goulburn assumed responsibility for
Yass Junction in 1997 and after the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) took over the Main South, Goulburn Signal box was subsumed into the ARTC Control Centre at Junee.
NSWGR Organisation Overview
The NSW Department of Railways had been formed in 1932 and was divided into nine Branches. Operations were carried out within four Divisions – Sydney Metropolitan, South, West and North. The Metropolitan area was bounded by Waterfall, Menangle, Penrith and Cowan. The Illawarra line was not a separate entity and came under the jurisdiction of Sydney.
The Southern Division was officially defined as “Menangle (exclusive) to Albury and Branches”. It did not include the Demondrille to Blayney line (which was part of Lithgow Traffic District) or the cross-country line from Stockinbingal to Forbes and Parkes (which was part of Orange District) and therefore within the Western Division.
There were three Traffic Districts on the South – Goulburn, Cootamundra and Junee. These arrangements remained in place until 26 November 1966, when Cootamundra was subsumed into Junee District.
Within the Mechanical Branch, there were four Divisional Locomotive Superintendents (DLSs) (Sydney, South, West and North) and (from 1947) they reported to the Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME), who was located in the CME’s Office at Wilson Street, Redfern.
The DLS Sydney was responsible for steam sheds at Eveleigh, Enfield (and Delec, from 1958) Clyde, Hornsby and Thirroul, while the DLS South was situated at Goulburn and had responsibility for steam sheds at Goulburn, Harden, Cootamundra, Narrandera, Temora, Cowra and Junee. Each of these depots was under the control of a District Locomotive Engineer (DLE).
Within the Way and Works Branch, there were Division Engineers located at Goulburn, Cootamundra and Wagga Wagga. The other Branch with de-centralized management
was the Signal and Telegraph Branch and District Signal Engineers were located at strategic centres, including Goulburn and Cootamundra on the South.
In October 1972, the Department of Railways became the Rail Division of the Public Transport Commission of NSW.
Col Gilbertson 2019