Knox holds its breath on Rowville rail extension in State Budget

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Knox Leader: Knox holds its breath on Rowville rail extension in State Budget. Melanie Gardiner. 5 May 2014

Knox historian Ray Peace has found remnants of the original Rowville rail. Picture ValeriKnox historian Ray Peace has found remnants of the original Rowville rail. Picture Valeriu Campan

As lobbyists woo the State Government to build the Rowville Rail, one Bayswater resident has revealed local government already delivered rail to Knox – 100 years ago.

Transport funding is at the top of the budget wish list, with Knox City Council advocating for progress on a railway line to Rowville, the extension of a tram service to Knox Central, and improved bus services.

As residents pray for a modern railk extension, Knox historian Ray Peace has uncovered the city’s first rail line opened “with three hearty cheers” on February 12, 1914.

> > Do you think it will be another 100 years before the Rowville rail is built? Tell us at knox@ leadernewspapers.com.au

The 3km track was built to cart crushed bluestone, called “road metal”, from the Dandenong Shire quarry, in Lysterfield, to Stud Rd in what is now Dandenong North.

Mr Peace said the line was called a tramway because a railway required an act of parliament.

Remnants of the disused tracks are scattered in the Churchill National Park, Lysterfield, and Dandenong Police Paddocks Reserve, but are beyond repair.

“I was pretty amazed they (sleepers) were still there after 100 years, I wasn’t expecting that,” the Bayswater resident said.

Mr Peace was shown a survey map of the site by Lysterfield resident Roy D’Andrea years ago but it had been a tricky search.

Eight years later, easy access to GPS units and Google Earth satellite images put him on the right track.

Mr Pearce said the Dandenong Shire spent 584 pounds to build the line and buy three quarry trucks in 1913.

“They (the trucks) were hauled up the tramway by horses and descended by gravity,” Mr Peace said.

“It was very tiny, the gauge was only two foot, which is even smaller than Puffing Billy,” he said.

“It closed in 1917, it wasn’t a very successful quarry.”

The rail line fell into ­disuse after the closure.

Mr Peace said the site had its share of tragedies, including the death of a railway worker after several trucks broke free in June 1913.

In 1914, The Dandenong Advertiser reported that the Shire hoped to expand the rail line to Dandenong.

Mr Peace has mapped 44 bush tramways covering more than 250km, including a Lysterfield line built in 1927 to haul materials for the Lysterfield reservoir.

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