Heady days of railway lose steam
THE average holidaymaker rarely catches more than a glimpse of New South Wales travelling on arterial roadways but Bob Liddiard will tell you he's seen a lot more of it than most.
Yesterday the 84-year-old reminisced about his 44 years with the State's railways, a career that took him all over, eventually bringing him to Grafton.
Mr Liddiard recalled a time when rail was the preferred form of transport for thousands and kept as many as 600 people in full-time work between Gurranang and Glenreagh.
South Grafton's Roy Grace also worked on the railways during a time when dining cars still featured on a trip to Sydney. But over the course of his career he saw the industry transformed by state governments keen to strip ser- vices back and maximise profits.
Mr Grace remembered the station at South Grafton, a station kept alive with the hustle and bustle of passengers there for one of the eight daily trains passing through.
Today, the XPT between Brisbane and Sydney is the only train to stop.
Sadly, stories like those of Mr Liddiard's and Roy Grace are becoming the only reminders of a romanticised age of rail travel that has made way for a computerised modern reality.
On March 4, the five remaining staff at South Grafton's rail offices will leave, their roles abolished after the State Government handed control of its North Coast network to the Australian Rail Track Corporation last year.
It will signal the end of an era for a rail town.