Railway Tunnels in Queensland (BOOK)

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Railway Tunnels in Queensland (BOOK)


Redlynch - Barron Falls

Although the Main Range ascent of 1867 in South Queensland was undoubtedly an impressive construction, perhaps even more difficult to construct was the climb of the Cairns Range where the railway clings to the edge of the mountainside.

Parliament approved the plans on 19 September 1885. Plans dated 1 October 1886 and signed by W Hannam provided for the present Tunnel numbers 1 to 14 plus four more. Those not in the completed railway are two between Stoney Creek and present Tunnel 14 and two at Red Bluff. Present Tunnel 15, (the longest! ) was not in the plans, so was presumably bored when constructing the line on the edge of the mountainside was decided to be too difficult. John Robb who tendered £290,984 was awarded the contract for the second section from Redlynch to Myola (8 miles 60 chains to 24 miles 0 chains) on 26 January 1887. The contract document (headed "Queensland Railways, Northern & Carpentaria Division") gave the volume of excavation in tunnels as 48,200 cu yds (36,850cu m), cement concrete in tunnels as 11,750cu yds (9,000 cu m) with the date for completion as 30 June 1889.

On 30 January 1889, Chief Engineer W Hannam reported in the Commissioner's Report that Tunnels 1 and 2 were finished, 3 was in a forward state, 4 - 9 and 12, 13 were ready for lining. 10 and 11 had the headings through only, while 16 and 19 were not yet opened. Tunnels 14, 15, 17 and 18 were open cuts substituted.

"The building of Tunnel 15, the longest on the line, proved difficult and in 1889 led to a temporary holdup in construction. However on 11 December 1889, the then Chief Engineer of Railways, Mr Stanley and one of the three QR Commissioners arrived and authorised the necessary deviation from the original plans and work recommenced nn the seventeen chain tunnel. To make up for loss of time, drives were made so that men could work on eight faces of the tunnel at once." 65

Between October 1889 and April 1890, fresh surveys were done for the deviation for the "Long Tunnel" (present Tunnel 15).

A plan of 1911 (Number 1461 held at the Queensland State Archives) showing all deviations until then shows the deviation of "The Long Tunnel" as Deviation 82. It also shows a "contemplated" deviation 42 at the same site but further within the mountainside as extending for 45 chains (905 metres) though not all of this would have been tunnel.

The Chief Engineer, Cairns reported on 11 July 1890 that of the fifteen tunnels, thirteen were lined complete, one was ready for lining and "the mining of the last tunnel, which is being worked from nine faces, is proceeding at 1 chain per week. It is estimated it will be ready for lining in 8 weeks".

64 pages, Author Brian Webber

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