2019, English, Photograph edition: There is always light at the end of the tunnel. westernthunderer75

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There is always light at the end of the tunnel
 
Bookmark: https://trove.nla.gov.au/version/265029489
Physical Description
  • image
Published
  • 2019-10-18 10:40:42
Language
  • English

Edition details

Title
  • There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Creator
  • westernthunderer75
Published
  • 2019-10-18 10:40:42
Physical Description
  • image
Subjects
Summary
  • But you always have to walk the darkest depths before it.Queensland Railways opened its line between South Brisbane and Southport (Gold Coast) on 25 January 1889. A branch line from Ernest Junction inland of Southport and south to Nerang opened on 15 July 1889 and eventually extended to Coolangatta (Qld) and Tweed Heads, just across the border into New South Wales on 14 September 1903. Southport station was end on to what is the Gold Coast Highway today, just across the road from the sea slightly north of the Southport central business district. Just east of Ernest Junction, the railway burrowed through a hill with what is known as the Ernest Junction tunnel. This tunnel was not long and slightly curved to the north at its western (Ernest Junction) end - standing at either end you can see reflected light from the other end. By the early 1960’s, despite the Gold Coast just commencing its growth spurt, Queensland Railways was in the middle of a program of closures of uneconomic lines. The section from Nerang to Tweed Heads closed on 1 July 1961, from Ernest Junction to Nerang on 1 May 1964 and the “main line” from Beenleigh on the southern outskirts of greater Brisbane to the sea at Southport, through Ernest Junction on 1 July 1964. As Brian Webber says in his wonderful book “Exploring Queensland Railways - South from Brisbane”, “ To many people, it appeared that this was not a railway that had outlived its usefulness, rather it was a railway crying out for upgrading. Many believed there was a future for the line using diesel locomotives and modern rail cars, the latter already in use. A suspicion was fueled that the Southport closure had more to do with assisting road transport by removing a competitor and road tax than with a genuine need to reduce wasteful expenditure on the railway”.Hmmm. a very common story the world over.Of course, there was light at the end of the tunnel, if not this one.By 2018, the population of the Gold Coast (City Council area) was nearing 600,000, making it Australia’s largest regional city and only beaten by the five major mainland capital cities in size. In time, as well as the M1 motorway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast which is now a very busy four lanes each way with planning now under way for a complete duplication of the road on yet another alignment (M1- 2), the railway has been rebuilt to Helensvale (26 February 1996), Nerang (16 December 1997), Robina (31 May 1998) and Varsity Lakes or what was virtually West Burleigh (13 December 2009). There are plans, now very slow at progressing to extend it as far as the Gold Coast Airport at what would have been about the old Tugun station, not all that far from its original terminus, quite close to the sea. The modern railway does not yet make it to the sea, the cost of resumptions of land on this extremely valuable strip of coastal land far too expensive and disruptive to consider. So the railway stays inland a bit, it’s all developed suburbia now anyway on generally what was the original alignment from Ernest Junction south towards Coolangatta and Tweed Heads. Obviously the roads have become saturated and at times, the current electric trains north to Brisbane so overcrowded, commuters have dubbed them the Calcutta Express. In addition, light rail now operates from Helensvale Station, north-west of Southport to Broadbeach along the coastal strip with plans now approved for an extension south to Burleigh Heads. You can walk through Ernest Junction tunnel today from the eastern portal to the west where there are some station name boards and historical signs telling the story of the line and the tunnel. It is looked after by a local group known as The Friends of the Ernest Junction Tunnel. And don’t worry, if you choose to walk through, it’s easy going and no bats. I promise!One last comment about these railways. Like a number around the world, for various reasons their fame and the love for them have outshone the average railway and train journey. In the years when car travel and ownership was in its infancy, and within living memory of some (just), from the post war years, the line conveyed passengers to the exotic location of the Gold Coast, a land of sunshine and beautiful beaches, a place for a honeymoon, a holiday or just a fun weekend away from the grind of city life. And so it took on a special feeling all of its own, like no other. And it was likewise for railway enthusiasts, who not only got caught up in that getting away from it all feeling, but who rode on a line that did things its own way, ran diminutive locomotives, often in pairs, special cars and “fast” expresses to the Gold Coast! Even before it was called the Gold Coast! And as you steamed through that tunnel and burst into light of day, you knew that you were only a few miles and minutes from the end of the line, and another world of salt water, sunshine and sand between your toes and even just a bit of innocent naughtiness!Ernest Junction Tunnel, Southport, Queensland
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Language
  • English
Identifier
  • 49032212096

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