Now, the centre of civilisation... Troy Junction.
Once the Dubbo North Junction is cleared, the branch line climbs uphill towards Troy Junction, albeit at a fairly gentle grade.
Only 50 metres after leaving Dubbo Junction is the site of the former Total Oil Products siding. More recently it was known as the PMG siding, owing to its use by the Post Master General’s officers for loading of telegraph poles and the like.
A further kilometre of travel brings a train to a place adjacent to Dubbo’s former Union Siding. This fuel siding was installed on 17 September 1928. The date of its demise is unknown to this author.
In leaving Dubbo proper the railway line then crosses Miller (or Muller) Street, River Street, Beri Street and Quarry Road. This completes the journey to the outskirts of Troy Junction.
On reaching Troy Junction the railway alignment levels out. In total the trip from Dubbo measures approximately 4.5 kilometres - locating the Junction 467 kilometres from Sydney.
Troy Junction exists for two reasons principally - the decision to build the Dubbo to Merrygoen cross-country railway and its proximity to Dubbo’s industrial areas.
As to the first reason clearly Troy Junction was not part of the original infrastructure of the Coonamble line. It was first formed in July 1914 as a result of the construction of a temporary connection off the Coonamble line. The 25th Weekly Notice of that year announced that on Thursday, 25 June 1914 a temporary siding would be brought into operation at mileage 285 and 27 chains, between Dubbo and Eumungerie, with points facing the down journey. The siding was provided to ‘enable trucks of materials’ for the Dubbo to Werris Creek line. The points were unlocked using the Dubbo-Eumungerie staff.
The following week’s Notices cancelled the 25 June 1914 commencement, delaying the creation of the Junction until Thursday 2 July 1914. This later announcement appears to have occurred on time, and the perway gangs worked to produce a loop siding for a quarry at this location. The quarry was, of course, critical to the construction of the cross-country line to Mendooran and points further east. It continued in this function until its removal on 26 September 1938.
Over the next three years, construction of the cross-country line was undertaken steadily, although wartime exigencies reduced the capital and manpower available to the constructors. By 1917 the Department of Public Works was operating three goods trains daily between Troy Junction and Elong Elong, along with various works trains. Goods traffic commenced operations on the then-called Mendooran branch, without livestock or passenger services, from 7 April 1917.
From 15 January 1918 a tri-weekly mixed service was instituted between Dubbo and Elong Elong on the still-under-construction Merrygoen branch. The journey was timetabled to take three hours, all for a journey of 30 miles. Notably, the Weekly Notices refer throughout to Troyee Junction. This affectation applied for only several weeks.
Also notable is the rather convoluted safeworking arrangements attached to these workings, with a shunter accompanying the Construction Branch crew in the locomotive cab from Dubbo to the Junction with the staff, under the supervision of Dubbo’s station master.
Almost as an anti-climax the official creation of Troy Junction occurred on 8 April 1918 with the connection of the fully-open Dubbo to Merrygoen line.
The commencement of Merrygoen branch workings occurred with No. 1 Mixed, leaving Dubbo on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:00am, arriving at Troy Junction at 9:29am. Ten minutes for shunting was allocated before the service moved off towards Merrygoen. The return working arrived at Troy Junction at 3:53pm, where a further ten minutes was allocated to shunting. Arrival at Dubbo at 4:15pm, after a 12 minute journey. Passengers from Sydney for stations along the Merrygoen branch were obliged to use No. 59 Through Mail and not the No. 61 Coonamble Mail.
Traffic loads brought improvements to the operating arrangements of the Junction after just seven years, when Troy Junction brought into use as an Electric Staff Station on Thursday, 28 May 1925. Dubbo to Troy Junction section was worked under miniature staff, and the Troy Junction to Eumungerie section then worked under ordinary staff arrangements.
The Junction’s original formation involved a single junction off the north-bearing Coonamble line with the Merrygoen line moving away to the north-east. However, the growth of Dubbo as a regional centre led to the early development of a light industrial precinct to the north of the city, where the railway line paralleled the road to Gilgandra, which is now the Newell Highway. Inevitably this industrialisation brought the need for rail connections and thus the ancillary reason for Troy Junction’s existence.
The original railway infrastructure required a signal box located on the western (or down) side of the Coonamble line to supervise the shunting operations at the Junction. It was constructed of timber, and was brought into operation with the opening of the Junction.
A dead-end ballast siding was also installed adjacent to the signal box on 3 February 1941. It appears to have been located in the same position as the original quarry siding which had been removed in 1938. However, in this incarnation the siding’s alignment continued the arc of the railway line from Merrygoen, this time towards the south. It was used to stockpile ballast in case of wash-aways. This ballast siding was removed in January 1954. Somewhat ironically given its reason for existence, this was only a matter of months prior to devastating floods in the area.
The thirty years following the creation of Troy Junction led to the founding of two related industries in the vicinity – livestock sale yards and an abattoir.
The second Weekly Notice of 1951 notes the closure of Dubbo Stock Yards as at 31 December 1950 and the opening or extension of Troy Junction to take 75 cattle wagons or sheep wagons. The location of an abattoir at Troy Junction created the imperative for large scale transport of livestock to the site and the subsequent removal of its produce. Consequently, by the early 1950s the south-eastern corner of Troy Junction included an abattoir siding, for the aptly named Country Killings Works.
The rail siding provided for the abattoir spiraled away in a south-easterly direction from the up siding, towards the abattoir. This line was officially titled as the meatworks siding. It ended amongst the abattoir’s buildings in two short sidings. The meatworks siding could hold 155 four-wheel wagons.
In the north-east three stock and sale yards sidings were provided adjacent to the Merrygoen line, while a lengthy siding paralleling the Coonamble line gave the impression of a double-tracked branch line. The stock siding could hold the equivalent of 237 four-wheel wagons.
As noted above initial rationalisation of the railway infrastructure occurred on 7 January 1954, with the official notice of the removal of the ballast siding for the second time. However, the remaining infrastructure remained in use into the 1980s.
One interruption occurred on 5 October 1973 when Troy Junction’s wooden signal box was destroyed by fire. It was then replaced by a similar structure.
In its new housing, Troy Junction signal box operated for a further 14 years. It was closed on 5 July 1987 when Dubbo signal box assumed responsibilities for the Junction.
From its creation in 1918 until 1987 the Coonamble line retained the appellation of main line. After the closure of the signal box the Merrygoen line became the main line.
During the 1980s Troy Junction’s sidings played one final role – as the site of the Macquarie Valley Railway Society. The Society held its two operable railmotors at the location along with a motley collection of passenger and goods rolling stock.
As part of the State-wide fad of razing railway infrastructure which commenced during the later part of the 1980s, the stock and sale yard siding was removed on 24 July 1991. It is understood that the abattoir siding was also removed at this time, or shortly beforehand. The second signal box may have been removed during the 1991 rationalisation of the permanent way.
Thus, after 70 years Troy Junction had been returned to virtually the same railway formation which had existed at its creation in 1914.