Ropes Creek railway line
|Ropes Creek Line|
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The Ropes Creek Line was named after a nearby creek bearing the same name. Its main purpose was to transport military ammunitions and munitions factory workers to and from St Marys during World War II. The line opened from St Marys station to Dunheved on 1 March 1942 and Dunheved to Ropes Creek on 29 June 1942. When electrification arrived in the 1950s, a plan was made to include electrifying the Ropes Creek Line. For the most part all the sidings in the Dunheved station area were electrified to enable the NSWGR to use the electric locomotives of the 46 class to shunt trains without the need of changing to diesel electric or diesel hydraulic power.
While the line was being electrified, a new station was built and opened on 2 September 1957 and named Cochrane. Towards the end of train operation on the line, there were freight wagons shunted into the Sims Metal plant which is about 2 kilometres from the junction with the Main West line and one passenger train in the morning and one in the afternoon was the norm. This train was mostly formed by a 4 car single deck suburban train locally known as a Red Rattler.
The line was closed to passenger rail traffic with a down turn of passengers and munitions traffic in the early 1980s but remained open to freight traffic for Sims Metal. However, when this was then switched to road traffic the line closed. The line then lay idle for a number of years. On 22 March 1986, the line was officially closed forever, with an enthusiasts' special being the last train to traverse the section and not long after that, the overhead power supply was removed. Between Boxing Day 1990 & 8 January 1991 a major trackwork shutdown that was between St Marys and Glenbrook, the line was temporarily reopened as far as Dunheved to allow suburban trains that normally stabled at Penrith to be stabled in the 4 track yard and on platform 2 or the Down Branch track. At the completion of the trackwork, the line was once again closed. Overhead wiring was still installed at the St Marys end of the branch where it turned off the main western line for approximately 10 cars to provide a terminating point for trains used on "Y" Link services. With the abolition of "Y" link services to St Marys in 2005, there was no reason for the overhead wiring and associated components to be left in place and they were subsequently removed.
At Dunheved railway station, a fenced-in compound was constructed on the down branch and down no. 1 siding, and two suburban train carriages were stored there for use by the NSW Fire Brigade for training purposes - Comeng S set motor car C3866 and Goninan Tangara car N5127. Pictures here These cars and the compound didn't last long because local vandals destroyed both carriages.
Rails on the branch were still there in 1996 but by 2001 the rails were starting to be lifted, the first part of the line to be lifted was the area outside Sims Metal for the extension of Christie St between Dunheved Rd & across South Creek, outside Sims Metal. The next part, Links Rd level crossing, wasn't lifted but was covered with tar and concrete.
1 December 1957 Down
- 5:15am. From North Sydney, all stations to Redfern, then Ashfield and all stations to Ropes Creek (except Rookwood).
- 5:28am. From North Sydney, all stations to Redfern, then Burwood and all stations to Ropes Creek (except Rookwood).
- 5:45am. From Granville, all stations to Ropes Creek.
- 7:33am. From St Marys, all stations to Ropes Creek (Dunheved, Cochrane & Ropes Creek).
- 2:00pm. From Hornsby, all to Redfern, the Burwood and all stations to Ropes Creek (except Rookwood).
- 6:55am. From Ropes Creek, all station to Lidcombe, then Strathfield, Burwood, Redfern, and all stations to Gordon.
- 7:07am. From Ropes Creek, all stations to Lidcombe, then Strathfield, Redfern, and all stations to North Sydney.
- 4:10pm. From Ropes Creek, all stations to Ashfield (except Rookwood), then Redfern, all stations to North Sydney, then Artarmon, and all stations to Hornsby.
- 4:16pm. From Ropes Creek, all stations to Burwood (except Rookwood), then Redfern, all stations to North Sydney, then Artarmon, and all stations to Hornsby.
- 5:18pm. From Ropes Creek, Cochrane, Dunheved & St Marys only.
The formerly electrified line, which boasted 3 stations (Dunheved, Cochrane & Ropes Creek), has now been truncated at the Sims Metal recycling facility on Christie Street, Dunheved and all track and overhead wiring beyond this point has been removed.
Other than the island platform, the only other remnants of Dunheved station are the footbridge, including the steps leading to the island platform with the remains of an electrical hut located under the stairs. A large hole in the platform with a few metal pulleys is the only remaining evidence that the signal box was located within the station building. In April 2011, the stairs had been removed and the railings on the footbridge were made good. The stairs had been the standard pattern precast concrete on steel framework, and had weathered to the point where the concrete was crumbling. There is still a park on the north side of the old station, which still looks like a station. The footbridge is shown on computer maps as a street, which can be confusing.
The rail formation and yard area at the western end of Dunheved station is now used by a local company for the storage of concrete pipes.
A satellite view of the line north of Links Rd (Dunheved) on NSWRail Maps 22 April 2008 shows that the urban sprawl has swallowed up the site of Cochrane Railway Station under Ropes Crossing Boulevard and has Ropes Creek Railway Station under threat of extinction with a lot of earth work under way with construction of local roads with the expansion of the new suburb of Ropes Crossing well under way.
At 8 June 2009, Ropes Creek station platform has been heavily excavated and shortened to approximately 50 m with only the area containing the overhead footbridge and platform buildings remaining and fenced off from public access. This has been designated a heritage area. Within this fenced off area, signals (both semaphore and colour light) along with other various pieces of trackside equipment has been unceremoniously dumped in piles with no regard to their heritage importance. A large sign on the fence indicates that the station is part of a proposed "Cultural Park".
During 2014, the remnants of the station had been converted to a local park for Ropes Crossing residents with the remaining platform, overhead beams, rail tracks and old machinery featured as design elements. The park also displays two heritage station signs on the platform reading "Ropes Creek Station".
Owing to the Campbelltown to St Marys (Cumberland Line) trains now operating in peak hours only and terminating at Blacktown, and the abolition of The River (the St Marys to Wyong service), there is now no requirement for the electrification of the storage sidings on the former Ropes Creek Line. Overhead wiring between the points on the Up Main to the Up Storage Sidings and the electric train stop boards has been removed, so no electric trains will ever visit the line under their own power. The sidings are now used for the storage of track machines during rail shutdowns or whenever scrapped rolling stock is delivered to the Sims Metal recycling plant.
The station buildings along the line were built from different materials.
- Dunheved station was a weatherboard building which the Station Masters Office/Booking Office, Waiting Room & Store Room was destroyed by fire when vandals broke in and set it on fire on the evening of 20 November 1983. It had a 32 lever frame to operate signals and points.
- Cochrane station was classed as unattended with no booking office facilities and a roadway bridge over the middle of the station. It had a waiting room on platform 1 (up branch) and awnings over both platforms.
- Ropes Creek station was of weatherboard construction, commonly used at the time by the NSWGR. It had a 40 lever frame to operate signals and points. There was a waiting room and toilet facilities provided. At the foot of the stairs, a small weatherboard structure was provided for station staff to stand in while tickets were collected. In June 2011, the station building was destroyed by fire.
There is now a notice at the southern end of the site indicating that an historical centre may be erected.
- "Ropes Creek Line". NSWrail.net. www.nswrail.net. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
Sydney's Forgotten Military Railways by John Oakes Retrieved 2010-01-05