Swan View Tunnel

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Swan View Tunnel
Swan View Tunnel.jpg
Eastern portal in January 2006
Overview
LocationSwan View, Western Australia
Coordinates31°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)
StatusConverted to rail trail
Operation
Opened22 February 1895
Closed13 February 1966
OwnerDepartment of Parks & Wildlife
OperatorWestern Australian Government Railways
Technical
Line length340 metres
No. of tracks1
Track gauge1,067 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 the John Forrest Heritage Trail, 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.

Construction[edit]

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.

The tunnel is 13 chains (858 ft, 262m) long.[1]

Work began in 1894, with the two bores meeting on 18 April 1895.[2] The tunnel opened on 22 February 1896.[3][4] 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.

Problems[edit]

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.[5][6][7] The first serious incident of this nature was in 1903.[8]

The tunnel's design was incompatible with the ASG class Garratt steam locomotives used by the Western Australian Government Railways in the 1940s. The subsequent Royal Commission into the ASG dealt with design of the locomotive, and the very dangerous clearances.[9][10]

The cause of industrial trouble arose in regard to the taking of the ASG locomotives through the Swan View tunnel. This tunnel was constructed many years ago and provides very little clearance for a modern locomotive. In the case of the ASG the distance between the sides and top of the locomotive and the structure of the tunnel is a matter of inches.[11][12]

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.[13][14][15] Further cases occurred in 1943[16] and 1944 on up trains.[17]

Subsequent industrial strikes, Royal Commission and union agitation for the locomotives' withdrawal was a significant issue in the 1940s.[18][19][20][21]

Deviation[edit]

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.[22]

The single line tunnel was considered unsafe for eastbound (climbing) trains,[23][24] 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.[4][25] The diversion was completed on 25 November 1945.[26]

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.[27]

The tunnel remains intact and has reopened as part of the John Forrest Heritage Trail, part of the larger Railway Reserve Heritage Trail.[28] 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37787153
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Bayley, William (1974). Tunnels on Australian Railways. Bulli: Austrail Publications. pp. 37–38. ISBN 0-909597-16-2.
  4. ^ a b Eastern Railway Deviation Heritage Council of WA
  5. ^ Tobin, Jack 1962 "The Swan View Tunnel" The Westland September 1999 p.7-11
  6. ^ "SWAN VIEW TUNNEL". Westralian Worker (1781). Western Australia. 24 December 1942. p. 1. Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "Swan View Tunnel". Westralian Worker (1785). Western Australia. 22 January 1943. p. 1. Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ Swan Express 2 October 1909 p.3a, 4a. Articles on ventilation problems in the tunnel
  9. ^ "GARRATT ENGINES". Daily Mercury. 79, (267). Queensland, Australia. 8 November 1945. p. 1. Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia. - specifically unions requesting the commissioner to travel through the tunnel in an ASG to understand the context
  10. ^ "JUDGE TO RIDE ON GARRATT FOOTPLATE". Tweed Daily. XXXII, (271). New South Wales, Australia. 8 November 1945. p. 1. Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ page eleven of [1] see also Western Australia. Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into Australian Standard Garratt Locomotive; Wolfe, Albert Asher (1946), Report of the Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into Australian Standard Garratt Locomotive, William H Wyatt, Govt. Printer, retrieved 20 January 2019
  12. ^ see also "GARRATT ENGINES". Kalgoorlie Miner. 52, (13, 827). Western Australia. 13 November 1946. p. 3. Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "Engine Crew Collapse In Swan View Tunnel". Daily News. LXI, (21, 159). Western Australia. 27 January 1943. p. 5 (HOME EDITION). Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "Swan View Smash". The West Australian. Perth. 10 December 1942. p. 7. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  15. ^ Duxbury, George (2001) Rail against time Landscope, Autumn 2001, p.37-40
  16. ^ "Swan View Tunnel". The Albany Advertiser. 16, (1664). Western Australia. 28 January 1943. p. 1. Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  17. ^ "SWAN VIEW TUNNEL". The West Australian. 60, (18, 024). Western Australia. 17 April 1944. p. 4. Retrieved 20 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ Barry, Kevin (June 1977), "Labour turmoil: the Garratt strike of 1946", Social Sciences Forum, 4 (June 1977): 26–43, retrieved 20 January 2019
  19. ^ Barry, Kevin (December 1996), "Labour divided: the Garratt strike of 1946", Papers in Labour History (17): 46–67, ISSN 1030-6218
  20. ^ Oliver, Bobbie (2012), "The Australian Standard Garratt: The engine that brought down a government", Journal of Transport History, Manchester University Press, ISSN 0022-5266
  21. ^ Troy, Paddy (December 1996), "Thirty years on: Paddy Troy's perspective on the ASG strike. [Comments made about Kevin Barry's 1975 thesis published in this issue as: Barry, Kevin. Labour divided: the Garratt strike of 1946]", Papers in Labour History (17): 68–69, ISSN 1030-6218
  22. ^ "Swan View Tunnel Deviation". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 7 December 1944. p. 6. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  23. ^ "Swan View Tunnel Crisis". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 26 February 1944. p. 8 Edition: Late Sports. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  24. ^ "Swan View Tunnel". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 6 January 1943. p. 9 Edition: Home Edition. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ WAGR Publicity (N.D.) Welcome to the Westland, Western Australian Government Railways Overnight Express and connecting link for interstate travel
  27. ^ Ellis, David 1997 "Terror tunnel" South Western Times 8 April 1997 page 30
  28. ^ Railway Reserve Heritage Trail Shire of Mundaring

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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.