Running on time

The technological changes in timekeeping systems and the role of time in both safe working of trains and passenger information services across the network was integral to an expanding railway network.

As the railways spread out from Sydney and Newcastle, connecting their hinterlands to the coast, the need for accurate time to allow for the timetabling of trains and for arrival and departure times for passengers meant that a common, standard time had to be known at each station.

'Running on time' outlines the history and development of a standard system of timekeeping in the NSW Railways.

The aim of this report, as well as the short documentary film that accompanies it, is to collectively capture the important historical theme of 'railway time'.

Running on time video
Duration: 15 mins
Transcript (PDF, 153KB)

As part of preparing this report and short documentary, a series of interviews were conducted with railway staff and NSW clockmakers who service the historic clocks, maintain the collection and run the current systems of time information across the network.

Produced by: Art of Multimedia

The Electric Train Staff System

The history of railways in New South Wales is a colourful one and signalling equipment has played a large part in making it safe.

One of the earliest single line signalling systems was the Electric Train Staff (ETS) System, a unique token system developed in England and introduced to Australia in the early 1890s.

Decommissioned in June 2014 following commencement of automated signalling on the South Coast line, this historic signalling system on the South Coast line was the last of its type on the NSW passenger network.

In 2014, Sydney Trains completed an oral history study to record this historic technology and safe working practice.

The project included:

  • An archival video of the equipment in use.
  • Oral recordings of interviews with staff and industry experts in the field of railway signaling.
  • A report outlining the history and changes of technology using information and memories of those who participated in the program.

End of the Line video
Duration: 17 mins
Transcript (PDF, 171KB)

In modernising signalling systems from Kiama to Bombaderry, one of the last examples of early signalling technologies in NSW, the ETS was decommissioned in 2014. The oral history study was completed to record this historic technology and safe working practice including video footage in its last month of operation and interviews with staff and railway experts.

Produced by: Cinetel Productions Pty Ltd

Highly commended in the 21st annual National Trust Heritage Awards

Highly commended in the National Trust of Australia NSW 2015 Heritage Awards.

The Minister of Environment and Heritage, the Hon. Mark Speakman MP, opened the 21st annual National Trust Heritage Awards on 13 May 2015. The awards celebrate and promote excellence in heritage projects across NSW.

At the 2015 awards, Sydney Trains' 'End of the Line' oral history project was recognised with a 'highly commended' award certificate for Heritage Recordings.