Electrifying news

In those days, driving a steam train was a great way to stay fit.

In the 1960s, Mr Deland made the change from steam to diesel, and said he and a lot of other drivers got "round and fat".

"It was too easy driving a diesel," he said.

Then Mr Deland had to learn how to drive an electric train and spent the last five years of his career with State Rail shunting the new-fangled trains at Bomaderry station.

Although he is quietly pleased "the wire" has made it as far as Kiama, Mr Deland is still one of the most vocal supporters of continuing State Rail's electrification to Bomaderry.

On Saturday, the Minister for Transport, Carl Scully, officially opened the electrified rail line to Kiama.

The modernisation of the line has been a long time coming and it means commuters from Bomaderry will now only have to cross the island platform at Kiama to continue their journey to Sydney, rather than climbing the stairs at Dapto station as was the case previously.

But for Mr Deland, Saturday's celebrations are a little too early.

For more than 15 years, Mr Deland has been lobbying State Members and ministers to get the line electrified all the way to Bomaderry.

Working with former Member for the South Coast, John Hatton and Shoalhaven City Councillor, Pam Arnold, Mr Deland began campaigning for the upgrade before Dapto even made it onto the electrified line.

"When it got to Dapto we were sure it would not be too long before we came on," Mr Deland said.

"But it got stuck there for a while, and now they have put it through to Kiama.

"It is surely only a matter of time before it comes through to Bomaderry.

"Once it does it will make a tremendous difference.

"There are 80,000 people down here who would potentially use it, real estate prices would go up and it would open up the Shoalhaven."

Mr Deland said he has seen a lot of changes since he started working on the rail more than 50 years ago, but electrification is the one which has made the biggest difference.

"Electrification is the big answer to all those provincial towns like Nowra," he said.

"It brings people into the area like the old trains couldn't."

THE upgrade of the South Coast rail line to Kiama was a $42 million project.

Minister for Transport, Mr Carl Scully said the "project is about providing a more frequent, more reliable service to the rapidly growing South Coast area, where rail usage has been increasing at three times the growth anywhere else in New South Wales".

"The electrification also means that residents can catch trains directly from Kiama to Central," he said.

More than 200 workers had been involved in the project.

"It has been a big project, with numerous engineering challenges that I believe have been addressed in a way which has proven a win-win for the community and the environment," Mr Scully said.

"An excellent example of this is the location of the substations and the overhead wiring structures which were designed to minimise their visual impact.

"As well, two century-old tunnels were enlarged to accommodate the installation of overhead wiring and double-decker carriages. This was an unusual and interesting engineering challenge."

Other works included:

* Installing 1500 volt DC overhead wires along 24km of track

* Track realignment at Princes Highway and Huntley Road bridges, Albion Park, Dunmore, Bombo and Kiama Stations.

* Station upgrades of Dapto, Albion Park, Dunmore, Minnamurra, Bombo and Kiama Stations.

Member for the South Coast, Wayne Smith, said he will continue to campaign to continue the electrification through to Bomaderry.

"It is a logical progression but funding is always a major consideration," Mr Smith said.

"We are going to take it one step at a time."