Swan View Tunnel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Swan View Tunnel
Swan View Tunnel.jpg
Eastern portal in January 2006
Location Swan View, Western Australia
Coordinates 31°52′55.51″S 116°4′15.59″E / 31.8820861°S 116.0709972°E / -31.8820861; 116.0709972 (North-eastern Portal)
31°53′2.76″S 116°4′54.89″E / 31.8841000°S 116.0819139°E / -31.8841000; 116.0819139 (South-western Portal)
Status Converted to rail trail
Opened 22 February 1896
Closed 13 February 1966
Owner Department of Parks & Wildlife
Operator Western Australian Government Railways
Line length 340 metres
No. of tracks 1
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)

The Swan View Tunnel is a former railway tunnel located on the southern side of the Jane Brook valley in the outer Perth suburb of Swan View in the John Forrest National Park on the edge of the Darling Scarp. After its closure as a railway tunnel, it reopened as part of a rail trail.

Prior to the construction of tunnels and the sinking of the Subiaco railway station in 1999, the Swan View Tunnel was the only tunnel on the Western Australian railway network.


Western portal in January 2006

Swan View Tunnel was built on an alignment which replaced the original Eastern Railway passing through Smiths Mill, (now Glen Forrest), and Mundaring. The project to build the new line, including the Swan View Tunnel, was managed by the Engineer-in-Chief of the Western Australian Government Railways, C Y O'Connor. Work began in 1894, with the two bores meeting on 18 April 1895.[1] The tunnel opened on 22 February 1896.[2][3] The unstable nature of the jointed granite, along with clay seams, caused difficulties during construction of the tunnel. A masonry-lined face prevented rock falls, but reduced the inner diameter.

The tunnel's small diameter combined with the steep gradient (1:49) to cause smoke accumulation. Incidents involving near-asphyxiation of train crews started in 1896, and continued throughout the tunnel's operating life.[4] The first serious incident of this nature was in 1903.[5]

The tunnel was 13 chains (858 ft, 262m) long.[6]

The tunnel's design was incompatible with the ASG class Garratt steam locomotives used by the Western Australian Government Railways in the 1940s. The worst accident in the tunnel was on 5 November 1942, when both drivers and firemen were asphyxiated by carbon monoxide, one driver dying, when a fully laden double-header train passed through the tunnel at walking pace.[7][8]


Between 1934 and 1945, a signal cabin was located at Tunnel Junction, on the eastern end of the tunnel, for managing the transition from the tunnel's single line to the dual lines of the system.[9]

The single line tunnel was considered unsafe for eastbound (climbing) trains,[10][11] and a diversion was added on the northern side of the hill that the tunnel passed through.

It was known as the deviation, and due to rock instability included a fence of 16 wires to be used as a detector of rock falls.[3][12] The diversion was completed on 25 November 1945.[13]

Railway closure[edit]

The railway line through the tunnel was lifted after the closing of the older and steeper Eastern Railway and the opening of the Avon Valley diversion that opened in February 1966.

After the 1960s, gates/doors were put at either end of the tunnel though these were later removed.[14]

The tunnel remains intact and has reopened as part of the John Forrest Heritage Trail, part of the larger Railway Reserve Heritage Trail.[15] During the 1990s, the government authority in which the tunnel land was vested, the Department of Environment & Conservation allowed a number of night time 'Ghost walks' in the tunnel as part of the Hills Forest programmes.


  1. ^ Higham, Geoffrey (2007). Marble Bar to Mandurah: A history of passenger rail services in Western Australia. Bassendean: Rail Heritage WA. p. 22. ISBN 978 0 9803922 0 3. 
  2. ^ Bayley, William (1974). Tunnels on Australian Railways. Bulli: Austrail Publications. pp. 37–38. ISBN 0 909597 16 2. 
  3. ^ a b Eastern Railway Deviation Heritage Council of WA
  4. ^ Tobin, Jack 1962 "The Swan View Tunnel" The Westland September 1999 p.7-11
  5. ^ Swan Express 2 October 1909 p.3a, 4a. Articles on ventilation problems in the tunnel
  6. ^ http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37787153
  7. ^ "Swan View Smash". The West Australian. Perth. 10 December 1942. p. 7. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Duxbury, George (2001) Rail against time Landscope, Autumn 2001, p.37-40
  9. ^ "Swan View Tunnel Deviation". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 7 December 1944. p. 6. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Swan View Tunnel Crisis.". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 26 February 1944. p. 8 Edition: Late Sports. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Swan View Tunnel.". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 6 January 1943. p. 9 Edition: Home Edition. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "Trains Go Round Swan View Tunnel.". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 26 November 1945. p. 7 Edition: City Final. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  13. ^ WAGR Publicity (N.D.) Welcome to the Westland, Western Australian Government Railways Overnight Express and connecting link for interstate travel
  14. ^ Ellis, David 1997 "Terror tunnel" South Western Times 8 April 1997 page 30
  15. ^ Railway Reserve Heritage Trail Shire of Mundaring


  • Elliot, Ian (1983). Mundaring – A History of the Shire (2nd ed.). Mundaring: Mundaring Shire. ISBN 0-9592776-0-9. 
  • Watson, Lindsay (1995). The railway history of Midland Junction : commemorating the centenary of Midland Junction, 1895-1995. Swan View, W.A: L & S Drafting in association with the Shire of Swan and the Western Australian Light Railway Preservation Association. ISBN 0-646-24461-2.