PORTLAND, OREGON, USA, INSPIRED ANOTHER TRANSFORMING ASPECT of Adelaide in 2007: the first new tramline to operate since most of the metropolitan network were ripped up in the 1950s.
(Among other influences, Portland was the model for South Australia’s container deposit recycling scheme.)
A visit in 2003 impressed then-premier Mike Rann with the environment and economic benefits that flowed from Portland’s trams.
His government’s $21 million decision to extend the Glenelg tramline down King William Street and North Terrace to the railway station brought the first new tram line in South Australia since the 1920s. That 1.2km track was later extended to the entertainment centre on Port Road, Hindmarsh.
The historic trams used on the Glenelg line were retained briefly before being replaced by “super" trams. These were the first Adelaide trams since in the 1930s.
In 2018, an extension of the tramline one kilometre east along North Terrace to the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site was completed after technical delays. Added to this was a new $20 million section of tramline, north along King William Road, to the Festival Centre. This work was to ensure no interruptions to the busy North Terrace-King William Road intersection, when a possible future extension to Prospect went ahead.
The incoming state Liberal government in 2018 wasn't enthusiastic about a proposed AdeLINK tram network back into the suburbs but it allocated $37 million to allow trams to turn right from King William Street into North Terrace.
HORSE-DRAWN GOOLWA-TO-PORT ELLIOT SERVICE FIRST RAILWAY FROM 1854
Among 19th Century rail lines built out through the suburbs, two train services linked Adelaide city and Glenelg from the 1880s until 1927. In the 1870s, the government approved Adelaide and Suburban Railway Company opening a line (on the present tram route) from Glenelg to South Terrace and later Victoria Square. Ten years later, Holdfast Bay Railway Company started a competing line from North Terrace to Glenelg. With profits hit, in 1882, they merged as Glenelg Railway Company. The two Glenelg trains were taken over by the government’s Municipal Tramways Trust in 1927. Throughout 1928-1929, the South Terrace train line was electrified as Adelaide-Glenelg tramway. The North Terrace train line closed in 1929 and was expected to be electrified but this never happened. Today’s Gawler Central suburban line opened to Smithfield in 1857 and was extended to the copper mining towns of Kapunda (1860) and Burra (1870). Adelaide to Bridgewater rail line was built in 1883 but Belair to Bridgwater closed in 1987. Woodville to Grange, an offshoot of the Port Adelaide line, came in 1882 with Grange to Henley Beach built in 1894 but dismantled in 1957. Goodwood-to-Marino line in 1913 was extended to Hallett Cove in 1915, to Christie Downs in 1976, to Noarlunga Centre in 1978 and to Seaford in 2014. Woodlands Park-to-Tonsley, an offshoot of Adelaide-to-Seaford, was opened in 1966 but, since the 1950s, six lines have closured.
TOWN OF TEROWIE THRIVES OUT OF NEED TO SERVICE RAIL GAUGE BREAKS
South Australia became epicentre of Australia’s problem with three railway line gauges: broad, narrow and standard. By 1917, South Australia had lines with the three different gauges. Irish broad gauge was initially adopted by South Australia, along with Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. New South Wales’ lone choice, the European standard gauge, meant a disjointed national link. South Australia created its own disconnect between broad and narrow gauges. It started with broad gauge for lines out of Adelaide and the intercolonial rail between Adelaide and Melbourne from 1887. Broad gauge tracks could carry trains at higher speeds and greater comfort for passengers but were much more expensive. This cost factor influenced South Australia to follow Queensland and switch to narrow. Port Wakefield line (opened 1870) changed from broad to narrow gauge while it was being built. Because narrow gauge tracks started as isolated lines to ports at Port Wakefield, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Port Broughton, Beachport, Kingston SE, Wallaroo and a private tramway from Whyalla, the problems of disconnected gauges weren't immediately apparent. But when broad and narrow met at Hamley Bridge, Terowie, Wolseley and Mount Gambier, complaints started. As it was realised that narrow lines couldn’t support large tonnages, South Australia continued to convert lines to broad gauge. In the 20th Century, the federal Commonwealth Railways joined NSW in adopting standard gauge that eventually enabled the first national railways link.
A traveller going by rail from Sydney to Perth in 1912 had to change train six times. By 1970, passengers were able to travel on the one train but the problem with incompatible track gauges for interstate rail services was not completely fixed until 1995 with the One Nation project that completed the standard-gauge links between Australian states. Once plagued by floods and derailments, the narrow gauge line from Marree to Alice Springs was finally replaced in 1980 by a new standard gauge route, branching off at Tarcoola on the Trans-Australian line. The broad gauge between Adelaide and Port Pirie was replaced by standard gauge, linking at Crystal Brook, in 1982. Port Pirie saw further changes in 1982 when the broad gauge rail link to Adelaide was replaced by standard gauge. As part of this, the junction with the Port Pirie-Broken Hill line was moved 24 kilometres east to Crystal Brook. All mainland states were connected by a standard gauge when the broad gauge between Adelaide and Melbourne was converted in 1995. Ironically, that section, opened in 1887, had been the first common gauge link between two Australian states. The new railway line from Adelaide to Darwin, completed in 2004, finally linked all states and the Northern Territory cities on standard gauge. The railway, now named The Ghan, stretches over 2,979 kilometres and takes 54 hours to complete, with a four-hour stopover in Alice Springs. It’s one of the most unique railway journeys in the world as it travels across different climates from temperate South Australia to the Red Centre, and the tropical areas of the Territory.
BIG-THINKING AMERICAN BROUGHT IN DURING THE 1920s
IN 1978, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER, THEN SHUTS, COUNTRY SERVICES
Great Southern Rail operates the three major interstate trains – The Ghan to Alice Springs and Darwin, The Overland to Melbourne, the Indian Pacific to Sydney and Perth – through the Parklands Railway Terminal at Keswick. Today, The Ghan goes on to Darwin on a track completed in 2004. When South Australia administered the Northern Territory in the 19th Century, it financed the original North Australia Railway on a narrow gauge from Palmerston (now Darwin) to Pine Creek, opened in 1889.
AUSTRALIA'S TRAM ERA STARTS IN ADELAIDE IN 1870s.
Adelaide was the first Australian city to have horse trams and the last to discard them. South Australia’s first horse tram was used in 1855 on the Goolwa-Port Elliot rail line but the wider impetus came in the 1870s when Edwin Smith and William Buik, of Kensington and Norwood Corporation but both later mayors of Adelaide, inspected tramways in Europe. Back in Adelaide, they promoted the concept leading to a prospectus being issued for the Adelaide and Suburban Tramway Co.. Despite Adelaide council objections over licensing and control, the South Australian government was lobbied by private commercial interests to pass an act in 1876 for a horse tram network. Services began in 1878 from Adelaide to Kensington Park, with trams from John Stephenson Co. of New York. Until 1907, private companies ran all horse tram service with the government authorising the building of lines. Adelaide and Suburban Tramway Co. started with six trams, expanding to 90 and 650 horses by 1907 with its own tram-building factory at Kensington. Eleven companies were operating within six years but three failed before constructing tracks. The Adelaide-North Adelaide line opened in 1878, one from Port Adelaide to Albert Park in 1879, Adelaide to Mitcham and Hindmarsh in 1881, Walkerville 1882, Burnside, Prospect, Nailsworth, Enfield in 1883 and Maylands 1892. There were 74 miles of tramlines with 1062 horses and 162 cars by 1901 with isolated lines from Port Adelaide to Albert Park and Glenelg to Brighton Most streets with trams were unsealed to absorb the horses’ urine and give hooves traction.
MUNICIPAL TRAMWAYS TRUST (MTT) DISBANDED
South Australia's Municipal Tramways Trust (MTT) first 100 trams in 1908-09 had their bodies made at £100 each by Adelaide company Duncan and Fraser who had built horse tram cars for Adelaide and Suburban Tramway as well as bodies for Melbourne electric trams. Up to its last purchase in 1953, the MTT commissioned more than 300 trams, some in service for 75 years. Type A trams were the most common, with 70 of the initial 100 made in this single-truck combination style. They incorporated a closed central saloon and open crossbenches on the same tram. Capable of up to 22 miles per hour (35 km/h), they had a seating for 29 in saloons with 20 in open benches. These trams had no airbrakes and instead used a handbrake for normal use and a magnetic track brake for emergencies. Many trams were removed from lines and stored in the 1930s, returning to service in 1941 due to petrol rationing boosting passenger numbers. Fifty-eight were permanently joined in “Bib and Bub” (named after May Gibb comic character) pairs to conserve manpower until 1950. The pairs required a conductor on each tram to collect fares but only one driver. From 1917, six A Type trams were used on the isolated Port Adelaide system that closed in 1935. Several were withdrawn from service after this closure and stored in Port Adelaide depot then Hackney depot/workshops until scrapped. All Type As were withdrawn from service by 1952. Tram types – A, A1, A2, B, C, D, E, E1, F, F1, H, H1 – varied over the years and all trams were numbered so their later fate could be followed. For instance , Car 47 was used as a lunch room at Hackney workshops while Car 50 was partly converted into a driver instruction car in the early 1950s.
An extended Glenelg tram line to Adelaide’s north-eastern suburbs lost out to the O-Bahn guided busway, opened in 1986. With rapid growth in north-eastern suburban Tea Tree Gully (2,500 in 1954; 35,000 by 1971), land along River Torrens, originally bought for the Modbury freeway under the abandoned MATS (Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study), was proposed as the route for a branch of Adelaide rail network. A North East Adelaide Public Transport Review chose light rail trams or a busway as more viable. The state government decided to extend Glenelg tram beyond Victoria Square and through city parklands to Modbury corridor. Adelaide City Council joined broad opposition to the project, saying it interfered with the city layout. The government altered the plan to put the tram line underground at big cost. Residents in inner suburbs such as St Peters had concerns about noise and disrupting Torrens Gorge. The trams possibility was halted in 1980 after premier David Tonkin appointed an opponent of the light-rail project, Michael Wilson, as transport minister. The government sent experts to look at an innovative O-Bahn (omnibus/bahn or path) guided bus developed in West Germany by Daimler-Benz. State Transport Authority engineers saw O-Bahn’s advantages (less land, less noise, faster, cheaper). A new government in 1982 brought a fresh look at the choices but premier John Bannon continued with O-Bahn Stage 1 (City to Paradise) and in 1986 Stage 2 (Paradise to Tea Tree Plaza). The O-Bahn had more than four million passenger trips in Stage 1 in 1986.
METROPOLITAN TRAINS AND TRAMS NETWORK INCOMPLETE
Glenelg line remained Adelaide’s only tramway from 1958 until 2007 when it was extended from Victoria Square in the city to North Terrace and onto the Adelaide Entertainment Centre at Hindmarsh, in 2009. Sections down to Adelaide Festival Centre/Adelaide Oval from King William Street and from Adelaide Railway Station eastward down North Terrace to the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site were added in 2018. Government proposals back to 2013 envisaged an AdeLINK tram network to include: • CityLINK – a loop along the Morphett Street, Sturt Street, Halifax Street and Frome Street. • PortLINK – converting Outer Harbor train line to a tram to Outer Harbor, Port Adelaide and Grange, and tram lines to West Lakes and Semaphore • EastLINK − a tram line along The Parade, Norwood, to Magill. • WestLINK – along Henley Beach Road to Henley Square, with a branch to Adelaide Airport. The line to Glenelg would be part of WestLINK • ProspectLINK − from Grand Junction Road along Prospect Road and O’Connell Street • UnleyLINK –along Unley Road and Belair Road to Mitcham. Six French-made Alstom Citadis model 302 trams from Madrid in 2017 added to the German Bombadier Flexity Classics that replaced Type H trams on Glenelg line in 2006. The Liberal state government elected in 2018 put AdeLINK plans on hold. It also was unable to fulfil a promised right-hand turn from King William Street, Adelaide, for the tram running down the eastern end of North Terrace, Adelaide. In 2019, the government announced plans to privatise the trams along with Adelaide suburban trains network.
VOLUNTEER ENTHUSIASTS' STRONG CARE FOR HERITAGE OF TRAINS AND TRAMS OF ALL SIZES
Peterborough’s Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre keeps alive the memory of the town’s was once major trains activity where more than 100 steam locomotives passed through each day on their way to all parts of Australia. At nearby Quorn, the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society of volunteers presents living railway history with its railway journeys through Pichi Richi Pass. Terowie is a ghost-town memorial to when it was a huge hub for trans-shipping goods from broad to narrow gauge
Port Milang Historic Railway Museum at the former railway station on the shores of Lake Alexandrina, near the River Muray mouth, also presents the South Australian Light Railway Centre. First opened in 1992, the Milang Railway Museum contains many original South Australian Railways fittings. The town of Milang was surveyed in 1853 and built soon after to support the thriving paddle steamer trade along the River Murray. The paddle steamers linked Mannum, Murray Bridge and Tailem and towns further upstream on the river with Milang and Goolwa. River boats brought wheat to Milang where a light railway carried from the jetty to Landseer's flour mill. Other goods from Adelaide were brought to Milang by bullock cart where they were shipped upriver from. River boat trade to Milang peaked between 1860 and 1880 but reduced sharply when a railway line was built to Morgan. Milang railway line became part of South Australian Railways in 1914 from a junction with the Victor Harbor line at Sandergrove. Its last passenger service ran in 1968 with the line closed two years later. Old South Australian Railways carriages at Port Milang museum have been converted into a craft shop and a dining car. The museum also features a diesel electric locomotive 351 from the National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide. Loco 351 has been fitted with a state-of-the-art driving simulator. This produces realistic sound effects to watch progress on a screen while “driving” the train.
South Australian Society of Model & Experimental Engineers (SASMEE) conducts miniature train rides at its park in Millswood Crescent, Millswood, twice a month throughout the year. Fred Hercus was a prominent early member of the Incorporated South Australian Society of Model Engineers in 1927. (The Hercus Adelaide factory made the training lathes used for metalwork in South Australian schools and colleges.) The society aims to keep interest in train model making and its related engineering and tools. After using a portable track, the society in 1947 obtained elevated land (on earth taken to build Goodwood underpass) at the fork of the then-Willunga and Hills railway lines. With land passing from South Australian Railways to federal government to Unley Council ownership, the society’s volunteers built a three-gauge rail track, clubrooms and boating pond in a park setting. A boiler supplies the steam to operate the engines and to blow the whistle. Historical exhibits from the 1880s include two engines from the former Brompton gas works and a collection of working model beam, mill and vertical-type engines. Locomotives at the park range from the tiny Juliet running on 3½” gauge to the Koppel on 7¼” gauge – about one-third full size. All steam locomotives are privately owned, many built by society members. The SASMEE park is open (weather permitting) to the public in the afternoon (1.30 to 5) of the first Sunday and third Saturday of every month. Children and adults can ride on model steam and diesel trains running continuous loops. Tiny (toy sized) model trains are also displayed.