The Via Recta line was proposed to run a direct link from Brisbane to the Border allowing Queensland to maximize it’s potential for hauling goods traffic in competition to NSW.
Although construction of the line was approved and commenced, the final link between Maryvale and Mt Edwards was never completed.
The annual report of the Commissioner for Railways for the year 1884 which contained one very interesting remark of the Locomotive Engineer for the Southern and Western Line, concerning the direct line to Warwick.
A map included with the Report was hoped to have the effect of inducing the Government to push on the projected railway from Warwick to St. George without unnecessary delay, for it shows plainly the great effort of New South Wales is making to secure the trade of Queensland’s western and southern territory.
However, as these next news articles from the Warwick Argus will show, not everyone was in favour of the Via Recta Link
The line was surveyed from Warwick to Maryvale by Mr. Blackman in May 1909. Estimated cost to build the line was £63,424.14.1. Approval to build the line from Warwick to Maryvale was given on 7th December 1909. Mr. William Pagan was the Chief Engineer appointed to oversee the building of this line. Work began on 28th February 1910, and employed up to 164 men, 31 horse and dray teams, and 14 plough and scoop teams.
Premier William Kidston, officially started the work by turning the first sod on Friday 18th March, 1910. During 1910 & 1911, the building of the railway line was delayed on several occasions. Heavy rain during the winter of 1910 delayed the building the earthworks. Then between February and March, 1911 heavy rain caused flooding and washed away some of the earthworks already done.
The line was officially opened by the Premier Mr. Denham on Saturday 30th September 1911. Two ladies held a royal blue ribbon 3” wide across the track while the locomotive passed through it.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 1912 – (WA) – HEAVY STORM on MARYVALE
Mr. Assistant Traffic Manager Ross lost no time in having the line open for traffic.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1914 - THE MARYVALE LINE - Stranded at
The southern part of the Darling Downs is particularly susceptible to storms and sudden downpours, whilst tornadoes and whirlwinds are not unknown. Damage to the permanent way and communications generally often occurs as a result of these storms.
Following three days torrential rain with intermittent hail the branch track between Warwick and Maryvale was in a bad state early in February 1914, these being frequent slips and washouts.
The train on Monday 2nd February 1914 had evidently run to schedule but the following day, the evening mixed to Maryvale was stranded at Gladfield because of washouts on the line. Gladfield in those days was not a bad place to get stuck; the Maryvale bound passengers and crew could console themselves in the cozy confines of the newly opened Gladfield Hotel adjoining the station while the rain fell outside.
Upon receipt of advice from the train crew at Gladfield, the District Superintendent at Warwick organized a ballast train and repair gang which was dispatched at daybreak from Warwick for the washout at Gladfield.
No attempt had been made by the train crew to continue to Maryvale during the night and the branch train commenced from Gladfield that Wednesday morning, evidently crossing the ballast train at Freestone, which was in those days a staff station with a station master in charge.
Despite a full days toil by the repair gang at the site of the washout, the evening mixed from Warwick has held up for 45 minutes on the outskirts of Gladfield, while the gang pigs tied the track.
REPORT OF THE CHIEF ENGINEER, SOUTHERN & CENTRAL DIVISION
I have the honour to submit, for the information of the Hon. The Secretary for Public Works, the following report giving the result of my recent examination of the trial survey of the proposed direct line between Ipswich and Warwick.
I started from Warwick on Wednesday the 1st instant, and devoted nearly a fortnight to the inspection of the survey, and the various deviations suggested in connection with it, as well as in thoroughly examining the country along the eastern slopes of the Main Range between Spicer’s Peak and the heads of the Brewer, in order to determine the best and most economical route for the proposed railway. I was accompanied during my inspection by Mr. Surveyor C. B. Lethem, in whose charge the survey has been from its initiation to the present time, and received from him much valuable information and assistance in prosecuting the object I had in view.
DESCRIPTION OF ROUTE.
The survey commences at a point on the Main Southern line near the junction of the Killarney branch, 167 miles from Brisbane, at an elevation of 1490ft. above sea level. It then crosses the watershed between the Condamine River and Campbell’s Gully, traverses Campbell’s Plains and crosses Freestone Creek at 8 miles, where a station will be required to accommodate the settlement in the neighbourhood, as well as that in the valley of Freestone Creek. After crossing this creek the line curves round the north-westerly spurs from Mount Dumaresq, and approaches Glengallan Creek, which it follows up to Maryvale Station, 18 miles from Warwick. Provision will have to be made for stations on Glengallan Creek (11 miles), for the accommodation of the traffic from Glengallan head station, distance about four or five miles, at Gladfield (fourteen miles), and at Maryvale. About a mile beyond Maryvale the line crosses Pine Creek at an elevation of 1758ft., and a short distance further on the ascent of the western slopes of the Main Range may be said to commence. The line rises gradually with an average grade of about 1 in 87, running parallel will Millersvale Creek to the summit near the “road gap” on the northern side of Spicer’s Peak at a distance of 31_ miles from Warwick, the surface height being 2513ft. It is proposed to introduce a tunnel at this point, 12 chains long, the formation height of which would be 2365ft., or 148ft. below the surface. Thence the line has been surveyed on a falling contour of 1 in 66 the eastern slopes of the Main and Liverpool ranges, reaching the foot of the latter near the junction of the Bremer with Boyd’s Creek (366ft.) at a distance of twenty-five miles from the summit, or fifty-six and a-half miles from Warwick. The total height thus to be surmounted in ascending the range is 2000ft., of nearly 800ft. more than by the present line to Toowoomba. Leaving the Little Liverpool Range the line passes through Rosevale and down the valley of the Bremer, joining the main line of the Southern and Western Railway about two miles westward of Rosewood Station and thirty-seven miles from Brisbane. Several stations will probably be required between the foot of the range and Rosewood to accommodate the extensive farming settlement along the valley of the Bremer. The length of the line to construct between Warwick and Rosewood by the route just described would be seventy-three and a-half miles
ALTERNATIVE LINE, VIA JACK SMITH’S GULLY.
ALTERNATIVE LINE DOWN RANGE, VIA LONG TUNNEL AND MOUNT FRASER.
The adoption of this line would probably result in somewhat less costly works if the long tunnel is excepted, on account of its being located lower down the slopes of the range, where the spurs are broader and the ravines less precipitous, whilst some nine miles of rough and difficult country along the Little Liverpool ranges would be altogether avoided. The distance by this route would probably be about two miles less than by the original survey.
LINE VIA MOUNT EDWARDS AND FASSIFERN.
Diverging from the trial survey near Spicer’s Peak (2365ft.), the line will follow generally the direction of that survey, but on the steeper contour for about three miles to a point below Mount Mitchell. Thence it will descend the watershed between Warrill and Reynold’s Creek, skirt the northern slopes of Mount Edwards, and, after crossing the last-named creek in the vicinity of Fassifern Station, join the second section of the Fassifern Branch now in course of construction at a point five miles from Harrisville and 47 miles from Brisbane. The elevation at the foot of the range on, this route being 730ft., the total height to be surmounted to formation level at the Spicer’s Peak tunnel is 1630ft. giving an average grade for the 12 miles of about 1 in 39.
The approximate length of line to construct by this route will be 61 miles.
Although opposed on the score of economical working to the general introduction of steeper gradients than in 1 in 50, I am of opinion that where an exceptional difficulty such as the ascent of the Main Range has to be overcome within a reasonable limit of cost, and use of an abnormal gradient is perfectly justifiable, provided it is confined to one particular section of the line where special auxiliary power can conveniently be applied in working the traffic, especially as, in this case, I believe the extra cost of working, if capitalised, would represent but a small proportion of the saving effected in cost of construction. This principle I have clearly admitted in dealing with the question of gradients in my report of the 28th January, 1879, on economical railway construction.
I propose to meet the difficulty of working this incline by providing specially powerful locomotive engines to assist trains in ascending. It has been suggested by the Locomotive Engineer, in order to secure the advantage of using heavier engines than can conveniently by placed on the 3ft. 6in. gauge, that a second line of rails should be laid outside the ordinary ones on a wider gauge. This, I consider, would answer admirably, and although it might not be necessary to resort to such an expedient at first, it would, I think, be well to keep it in view in designing the works, so that it could be adopted at a future time if the use of additional power desirable.
Besides the surveys to which I have drawn attention, barometrical observations were also made by the surveyor, with the view of ascertaining the practicability of crossing the range at the head of the Swan Creek, and a trial contour run for several miles on the eastern fall. The result of this investigation showed that the summit level, at this point, was considerably higher than at the Road Gap near Spicer’s Peak; a tunnel nearly half-a-mile in length would require; and the face of the range between Mount Huntly and Spicer’s Peak proved to be of such an unfavourable character that it was deemed advisable to abandon the route.
An examination was also made of the country in the vicinity of Wilson’s Peak with the object of taking the line up the valley of the Teviot Brook, and crossing the range on the head waters of the Condamine River, so as to connect with the Killarney Branch near its terminus. The ascent of the main range in this locality could probably be effected under more favourable conditions than at any other point under consideration, but the line would have to pass for some three or four miles through New South Wales territory, and some heavy work would be called for in following down the valley of the Condamine to Killarney. Although, in the event of a railway being constructed at some future time from Tenterfield in the direction of Wilson’s Peak, this route would prove a very direct one by which to connect Brisbane with the Southern colonies, it would in the meantime increase the distance via Warwick and Stanthorpe by some 25 miles, as compared with the line proposed via Spicer’s Peak and Millersvale; and in view of the contemplated construction of a line from Warwick to St. George, this extra distance would seriously affect the traffic between the Queensland Border and Brisbane.
1st. Via Rosewood, Bremer, and Spicer’s Peak Road Gap 110 miles
As the distance from Brisbane by the existing line via Toowoomba to the point of junction of the trial survey near Warwick is 167 miles, the saving effected by the proposed direct line will be between 57 and 59 miles.
CURVES AND GRADIENT.
On the alternative line from Rosewood via Mount Frasier, it is anticipated that the curves and gradients will be very similar in character to those on the present survey
As already stated, the line projected via Mount Edwards and Fassifern is intended to be designed with a maximum grade of 1 in 33 over a section of about 12 miles. The curves will probably be easier than on the descent to Rosevale, the minimum being fixed at 7 chains. From the foot of the Range to Fassifern, the maximum grade will probably not exceed 1 in 66, and the minimum curve not be less than 10 chains radius.
CHARACTER OF WORKS AND PROBABLE COST.
Beyond Pine Creek the country changes considerably in character; it becomes more and more broken and rugged as the Main Range is approached, and the line crosses numerous deep gullies and creeks. This section (9 _ miles in length) extends to the summit of the Range, and will embrace some heavy earthworks, as well as costly provision for waterways, and cannot, I consider, be estimated under £10,000 per mile. A plentiful supply of ballast will be easily obtainable at various points, and timber of a suitable description for sleepers, fencing, or sawn stuff, is found on the slopes of the Range; but there is, unfortunately, and entire absence of any fit for bridge piles or girders, which will have to brought from elsewhere.
The 3rd section, in which is included the descent of the Main Range, extends from the Road gap at Spicer’s Peak to the banks of the Bremer near Rosevale. The line traverses extremely broken and difficult country, in some places skirting the almost precipitous sides of the mountains, in other piercing the more abrupt spurs and again crossing deep and rocky gorges in some instances exceeding 100ft. in depth. This will involve a continuous succession of important and costly works, deep cuttings and embankments, numerous tunnels, frequent bridges of large dimensions, and long culverts. The earthworks will probably average not less than 50,000 cubic yards per mile, whilst the iron bridges required to span the more formidable ravines will extend to an aggregate length of 3,780 ft. and cost £150,000; in fact, the works required in the construction of this part of the proposed railway will, I believe, be unsurpassed in magnitude by any as yet projected either in this or the neighbouring colonies. Those who have been accustomed to travel over the main Range by the present line between Murphy’s Creek and Toowoomba can form but little idea of the difficulties to be encountered in the construction of this line, the mountains being more precipitous and the range generally bolder and more stupendous in character. In many parts no little difficulty will be met with in the transport of men and material to the site of the works, and a large expenditure will consequently be inevitable to provide temporary roads of access.
I estimate that the line and works on this section will not cost less than £23,000 per mile, and may possibly exceed this amount, as it is extremely difficult, without detailed plans and quantities, to arrive at any close approximation to the cost of works of such magnitude.
The geological formation is basaltic throughout, and although excellent material for ballast is abundant very little stone fit for building purposes is available. Concrete therefore, would probably have to be resorted to largely in the composition of the works, but even this will be expensive on account of the scarcity of suitable sand for the purpose, which will, I anticipate, have to be procured from the country below the Range.
Timber, except for bridge piles, is fairly plentiful.
The 4th section, from Rosevale to the junction near Rosewood, passes over tolerably easy country, and is estimated to cost an average of £5,300 per mile. The junction with the Southern and Western Railway was originally located close proximity to Rosewood Station, but it was found desirable upon further investigation to remove it about two miles more to the westward, in order to cross the flooded ground in the vicinity of Western Creek at the narrowest and most favourable spot. A station in the locality will, moreover, prove a convenience to the neighboring settlement.
The works on the alternative line between the crossing of the range near Mount Mitchell and the watershed dividing the Warrill Creek and the Bremer would, a part from the proposed long tunnel, be very similar in character to those of the surveyed line, but on the lower portion, which avoids the rough country along the Little Liverpool Range, they would probably be lighter. In consequence, however, of the very large amount required in the construction of the tunnel (estimated at £112,000). I do not anticipate that the ultimate cost by this route would differ materially from that of the original line.
On the projected route via Mount Edwards and Fassifern, after leaving the original survey, the works necessary for the construction of the line would be of a much less costly description than by either of the lines along the Main Range. The earthworks would still be heavy, but few bridges would be required, and from the fact of the line following nearly down the watershed, the provision for waterways generally would be comparatively light. The first three miles on this section, running parallel with the original survey, I estimate will cost at the rate of £25,000 per mile; but thence to the foot of the spur the cost will probably reduce to £12,000 per mile. Between Fassifern and Harrisville the line will pass over undulating country possessing no special difficulties in the way of railway construction, and the cost may be put down approximately at £5500 per mile.
There is one consideration connected with this route which must not be lost sight of – namely, that its adoption will involve the reconstruction of the considerable portion of the first section of the Fassifern branch, as the grades on this, as well as the character of the works generally, are entirely unsuited to the requirements of a first-class main line. The cost of doing this is estimated at about £57,000.
COMPARATIVE TOTAL COST.
1st. Line via Spicer’s Peak and Gap, to Rosewood £9555,875
The cost of such a line may be put down at £81,075, which would leave the difference in the ultimate expenditure in favour of the Fassifern route at £345,175.
I may remark that these estimates provide for a first class permanent way laid with 60lb rails, squared sleepers, and a full complement of ballast. In regard, however, to the proposed incline on the Main Range Section of the Mount Fraser and Fassifern route I would advocate the adoption of a rail of even greater weight – say 75lb. per yard – on account of the heavy engines which will be required to work it, as well as the severe wear and tear due to the application of powerful brakes in descending.
The country extending from Maryvale to the summit of the Range is at present only used for grazing purposes, but parts of it, especially on the western slopes of the Range, appear particularly well adapted to fruit growing and other agricultural pursuits, and will, at some future time, if brought within reach of railway communication, support a considerable population. In the vicinity of the line at the summit of the range, there are numerous situations admirably adapted for sites of future residences, and, considering the advantages of elevation (2500ft.) and the beauty of the surrounding scenery, there is every prospect, I believe, of this locality becoming hereafter a favourite summer resort and valuable sanatorium for the people of Ipswich and Brisbane.
Between the summit and the foot of the range by either route the line would not secure any local traffic, being in most places inaccessible, whilst the adjoining country is unfit for settlement of any description. On this account the line via Mount Edwards and Fassifern has a great advantage, as the unremunerative portion is limited to some twelve miles instead of twenty-five miles by the other route.
From the foot of the range near Mount Edwards to its junction with the Fassifern Branch the line would traverse land suitable for settlement, from which traffic would eventually be obtained.
As regards traffic on the other route between the foot of the range and Rosewood, I have already pointed out the importance of the settlement along the valley of the Bremer and its claims to railway communication.
Apart, however, from the question of local traffic, the importance of the direct line to Warwick, in connection with the future through traffic between Queensland and the Southern colonies, cannot be overestimated, seeing that its construction will effect a saving in the through distance of nearly sixty miles, as compared with the existing line via Toowoomba. But what I submit to be of equal if not greater moment is the fact that, combined with the contemplated line from Warwick to St. George, it would be the means of securing for this colony the traffic along the south-western border, which otherwise would in all probability be drawn towards New South Wales.
The reasons which have led me to this conclusion may be briefly summarised
as follows: -
2nd. That against this saving the extra cost of special locomotive engines to be employed on the Main Range section, together with the capitalised value of their working expenses, will not exceed £32,500.
3rd. The shorter length of unproductive line in respect to local traffic compared with the route to Rosewood.
4th. The shorter length of railway to construct, the lesser magnitude of the works involved, and the consequent greater rapidity with which the line could be completed.
A map is attached descriptive of the various lines referred to in this report.
I cannot close without acknowledging the able manner in which the various surveys connected with this important undertaking have been effected by Mr. Surveyor Lethem. He has had a task of no ordinary difficulty to perform, and to the energy and perseverance displayed by him is, I consider, chiefly duo the successful issue of the field operations.
Below is a list of stations along the section of line that was built.
The following sections of railway will be closed for public traffic on and from 1st November, 1960:
- Beyond Munbilla to Mount Edwards; and the Maryvale Branch.