Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tram to Wynyard

I have never been to Sydney's Wynyard Railway Station, so I am not sure of the layout etc. But I love the idea of travelling underground on a tram and that is what Sydney's trams did , once they crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the North Shore.

They travelled over the bridge in their dedicated lanes, now bus lanes I think and next to the walkway, and once off the bridge via a now demolished bridge, they dropped down into underground tunnels at Argyle Street and terminated on platforms at the underground Wynyard Station. The tunnels and platforms were built for trains that never eventuated.

The tunnels are still there but boarded up from Wynyard Station. I believe some of the Argyle Street tunnel entrances are used for carparking.

I think my facts are facts. How about some colour and movement?

Initially there was no indication of what position or platform people's trams would leave from, so there was much running up and down of platforms by passenger trying to find their tram. Many complaints and a bit of agitation by a newspaper led to the instillation of the indicator board seen in the picture.

Back in the first half of the twentieth century when everyone wore hats, they knew to hold them tightly as they crossed the bridge. But in the tunnels there were regular gaps in the walls where trains ran on the other side of the wall. As a train approached pushing its mass of air, unexpected gusts of wind would attack the tram on the other side of the gaps. Hats would blow off and disappear into the darkness to be later mashed by tram and train undercarriages and newspapers would be ripped from hands. Eventually the authorities were forced to act when the lost hat count became an alarming figure. They installed some type of air blocking barriers at the openings.

Can't help but think of some schoolboy arriving at Fort Street High from the North Shore uttering, 'sorry Sir, my cap blew off in the Wynyard tunnel'.

The loss of Sydney's huge tram system is surely one of Australia's greatest and most permanent losses. There is no going back.

Pictures courtesy The North Sydney Lines of the Sydney Tramway System.


  1. Great post Andrew :)
    Sadly, it's too true that when tram/train lines are decommissioned they are never reinstalled, no matter how large the populace and demands on public transport grows.

  2. I love these posts of tramways is sad that they aren;t there any more.
    I love looking at the third image, wondering where everyone was going to or coming from in the image...a busy time it looks.
    We ride the train system and the bus system in Sydney. We catch the train from Banksia station into town...we love alighting at the Quay. Have gone over the bridge a few times, then back again..and alighted at Wynyard Station too. Lots of elevators and it is very was Summer, yet it seemed even hotter at that station.

  3. Thanks Jayne. You are pretty on the mark.

    I too love using Sydney public transport Cazzie. It is a bit of challenge, rather than here where I know the system so well.

  4. I've learned so much about my own capital city that I never knew before from you Andrew

    Wynyard station is always freezing cold and damp in winter and stinking hot in summer, and always way too crowded

  5. I am guessing perhaps Jo, that it is the oldest Sydney underground station. Last time I was at Town Hall Station, it was so crowded, I thought it was almost to the point of dangerous.

  6. TOP PHOTO: This is pretty much how Wynyard station looked up until the 70s. Where the sliding gate in the photo is the ticket entry/exit machines now are. The shop window too is something else. I just cannot recall.

    SECOND PHOTO: Looks like the exit from the Wynyard tunnel as train heads across the harbour bridge.

    THIRD PHOTO: Wynyard station looks pretty much like this today. The hand rails around the stairs are the same. Only difference would be the extra layers of paint added over the years. The beams across the ceiling are the same as are the iron or steel support beams. Only the lighting and timetable board are more modern and of course it is platform 1 and 2 not letters.

    Unfortunately trams will never make a return in the city because our streets are to narrow to have a tram trundling and stopping constantly down the middle of the street. Traffic (which is already shit) would be held up even further. Again, an interesting post Andrew on my hometown. Thanks.

  7. Thanks for the extra info Denys. Second photo, entrance and exit tunnels for trams, not used now, but I would think the train tunnels are adjacent.

    Third photo, the letters were only to indicate the platform positions. The platforms were still referred to as 1 and 2, as you can see with the sketch of the indicator board.

    Melbourne has many narrow streets with trams too and while the trams can cause delays and slow traffic down, the biggest problem is traffic congestion delaying trams.


Before you change something, find out why it is the way it is in the first place - unknown.