Today in Transportation History – 1885: One of the Most Beautiful Railway Bridges in the World Opens

In Australia, the original Como Rail Bridge was opened in the colony (now state) of New South Wales. The bridge made its debut on Boxing Day – a holiday celebrated the day after Christmas in several regions throughout the world, including Australia – and crosses the Georges River between the Sydney suburbs of Oatley and Como. The single-track bridge was constructed as part of an extension of the Illawarra railway line in that area of New South Wales.

The newly opened structure, which the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate newspaper called “one of the most beautiful railway bridges in the world,” was one of twelve prefabricated lattice truss iron bridges obtained by New South Wales Government Railways engineer-in-charge John Whitton from British iron suppliers between 1871 and 1887. This type of truss bridge is characterized by small and closely spaced diagonal components, and the first Como Railway Bridge had the distinction of being a rare single-track version.

This bridge also achieved significance for helping to facilitate the increased settlement of Sydney’s southern suburbs. Over time, however, the bridge proved to be a major bottleneck for the railway line. A new double-track reinforced concrete bridge was finally opened nearby in 1972. The original bridge was consequently shut down but was renovated and brought back into service in 1985. It now serves as a bridge for both bicyclists and pedestrians.

For more information about the original Como Rail Bridge, please check out http://www.sydneywater.com.au/SW/water-the-environment/what-we-re-doing/Heritage-search/heritage-detail/index.htm?heritageid=4576032&FromPage=searchresults

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