Queanbeyan Railway Station celebrates 127 years

WHILE many of Queanbeyan's historic buildings were misguidedly demolished in years gone by, one that continues to stand tall is the Queanbeyan Railway Station.

The heritage building will celebrate its 127th birthday on Monday, September 8. And while it is getting on in age, it is no less functional with trains still skimming over the tracks, three times a day.

"[The building] I think it's just part of our history and worth preserving. Everyone that comes in here says, 'This is just a magnificent building'," Australian Railway Historical Society (ARHS) volunteer Charles Body said.

"It's a wonderful, old building. Maybe a lot of people in Queanbeyan don't know that it's here or that it's open ... it needs to be preserved and if people use it, it will be."

Currently, there are three trains a day that travel to and from Sydney to Queanbeyan. There's also a bus service to take passengers to Yass or Cootamundra to link up with services going to Melbourne.

"Patronage is increasing, there used to be just two services but they added a third train late last year," Mr Body said.

"Travelling by train can be relaxing, you can get up and walk around and there's a lot more leg room. A lot of people just enjoy it and we do have our regulars. There are also $1 fares for children travelling with adults so it's cost effective for families."

The Railway Station was established in 1887 with services reaching Sydney, Goulburn, Gunning, Cootamundra and Albury.

The railway line from Sydney to Canberra and Cooma was particularly busy during the 1950s and 1960s as it played a vital role in the construction of the Snow Mountains Scheme, according to Society members.

The station was temporarily closed in 1992 but reopened after the ARHS was granted a lease of the building and offered to run an onsite ticketing agency.

Volunteers help man the station from Monday to Saturday and receive a 12.5 per cent commission from ticket sales. That money is put towards projects like restoring locomotives, rolling stock and railway history.

"Over recent years, we've probably help sell $120 - $130,000 worth of tickets which results in quite a significant amount of money for us," Mr Body said.

"It's not just about raising money, [our service] has become just as important as a community service because there are a lot of people who don't have or understand the internet. They can't book their ticket online, so that's where we can help.

"In 20 or 30 years' time, I think the great majority of people will buy their tickets on the internet. So, there may not be great demand for personal service but we'll be here for a few years yet."

Mr Body said celebrations for the 127th birthday will be relatively quiet following a big 'do earlier in the year to mark a 100 years since the first train went from Canberra to Queanbeyan.

"We might do something, perhaps a cake," he said.

"This will be a quieter affair but perhaps when we reach 130 years, we'll have a big celebration."

n The Queanbeyan Railway Station celebrates 127 years on Monday, September 8. To find out more about the Australian Railway Historical Society, visit www.arhsnsw.com.au.

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