After two and a half decades of working in the rail industry, Glad Eldridge wants to bring back trains as a regular mode of transport in western NSW.
Glad grew up near the railway line at Warrigal and has loved trains since infancy.
“From the age of 10 months, my mother put my pram where I could sit and watch the trains go by,” she said of her early childhood.
When she turned five, Glad caught the train to school with a group of other children.
“I caught the 8.20am Goods Train No.325 to Nyngan to school. The train left Dubbo at 4am and arrived in Nyngan at 8.50am, picking us up on the way in time for school. In the afternoon we would catch the 4pm Goods Train back home again,” she told Dubbo Photo News.
It was a tradition carried on by many other families that has now been sadly lost.
“It was a wonderful way of life,” Glad reflects. “I think of it every time I see a steam train,” which are sadly few and far between these days.
“There’s nothing like a ride on a steam train and some kids have never seen one.”
In 1966, Glad landed a job on Nyngan Railway, where she stayed until it’s closure after the floods of 1990.
“I worked in the office for 25 years. When it closed, you could have shot me dead. But they said it would cost too much money to put the railway in again.
“But they have taken all the little stations down now.
“Over the years, all the little sidings between Warren, Nevertire to Cobar and Bourke have been pulled down, shifted or burned. History lost in the name of progress.”
Glad’s knowledge and passion for the railway manifested in last year’s book “Life Along the Railways West of Nevertire” (edited by Leonie Montgomery) which details her memories and observations.
“That was the instigator of the book. And I had collected different things. Being a train fanatic, I had it all written down. I gathered the information because I wanted to let people know that we live out here and to preserve the information.
At the age of 88, Glad is something of a firebrand when it comes to this particular topic. As she talks, a train whistle blows in the background, as though to emphasise her point.
“Without the railway, we’ve lost much of our history, we’ve lost our identity.”
With a lot of agriculture and industry built on the back of the railway, it’s a part of culture that needs to be preserved.
“There’s a lot of places that used to have a church, school, tennis courts, police station and hall. The loss of the railway has contributed to that.
“I hope that, through this book, I can bring back to life some of the good old days of travel by train in the west,” Glad said.
Glad believes that passenger train services for the people of Narromine, Nevertire, Bourke and Cobar would vastly improve circumstances for western townships which have limited public transport options. She is planning to write a letter to her namesake in the NSW Parliament, Premier Gladys Berejiklian, about the issue.
“It would serve the whole area with public transport,” Glad pointed out.
“All these little places could go by train instead of depending on a bus. They don’t realise how expensive it is to live in these places without public transport.
“It would serve these areas and get people off the roads.”