Pomp and ceremony was the order of the day two years ago when Goulburn celebrated the 150th anniversary of the railway's arrival.
The newly appointed NSW Governor Margaret Beazley AC QC and husband, Dennis Wilson and a host of officials arrived on a special steam train for the occasion. Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman attended and Mayor Bob Kirk delivered a speech, quoting extensively from the newspaper of the day about the railway's arrival in town.
Topping off the occasion, the Governor unveiled a yet to be placed plaque and a time capsule to be buried in a cavity. It was to contain a copy of The Goulburn Post's commemorative edition, a photo collage of the railway station, a USB with drone footage over the station, an opal card, a list of local staff over the years and train timetables. Earlier, the Goulburn Library had appealed for items for the capsule.
But two years on, while the plaque is in place, the time capsule is sits empty in the Goulburn regional NSW TrainLink office.
Former Goulburn Roundhouse Preservation Society secretary Terence Carpenter, for one, is livid about the inaction.
"Two years down the track, the time capsule hasn't been done and (NSW TrainLink managers) are the problem," Mr Carpenter said.
"If you want something done properly get volunteers to do it. If you get public servants involved, there's a good chance they'll stuff it up."
Mr Carpenter said he was disappointed that a group of willing volunteers "got the show up and running" but the "clowns from Transport for NSW" intervened and "took over" in March, 2019, 10 weeks before the big event.
This had resulted not only in the failure to bury the capsule but also the plaque not being mounted in time. The Governor instead lifted a curtain on where the capsule would be placed.
Mr Carpenter said by the following November, the plaque had still not been installed. His committee had organised the plaque and its wording for $600, to be paid by members. But Transport for NSW intervened, changed the wording, resulting in an $1100 cost, which it bore. In addition, it arrived too late to be fixed in time for the celebrations.
In late 2019, he complained in writing to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, two to Transport Minister Andrew Constance and others to regional NSW TrainLink managers, expressing his "disappointment and disillusionment." Mr Carpenter said he'd received no response.
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A professional public servant for 40 years, including 20 with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr Carpenter said he would have been counselled for such performance.
"If these are public servants then they should get another job," he told The Post.
A NSW TrainLink spokesperson said there were plans for Goulburn Railway Station staff to bury the capsule "in the near future after delays due to COVID."
"Whilst a date is yet to be set it will likely be finalised in the next few months," she said.
The organisation did not explain why it wasn't buried at the time.
Meantime, rail author and photographer Leon Oberg described the delay and decision making as "a bit shabby."
If you want something done properly get volunteers to do it.Terence Carpenter
"I think a lot of people would have egg on their faces," he said.
"I (also) don't know what Margaret Beazley would think of it because it was a big thing to invite her here to unveil the plaque and announce the capsule."
Mr Oberg was on the organising committee for the railway's 100th anniversary celebrations in 1969. A time capsule was buried in the railway station's front garden by then Governor of the day, Sir Roden Cutler. It contained letters from the Premier, Bob Askin, and Goulburn City Mayor, Ernie McDermott, the Commissioner of Railways, Neal McCusker, books, newspapers, photos and other items. It was to be opened on the 200th anniversary in May, 2069.
Mr Oberg also suggested that the most recent time capsule be opened in 100 years, not 50, to avoid a clash. He said this was dismissed.
In 2019, he urged NSW TrainLink management not to place digital material in the capsule that could possibly not be read in 50 years. Instead, he suggested photos, a copy of The Goulburn Post's edition marking the anniversary and one of Track and Signal Magazine, for which he had completed an eight-page glossy feature on the event. This could be added to other hard-copy items.
But he said this idea was not entirely taken up.
The NSW TrainLink spokesperson said the organisation was aware that technology like USBs could be surpassed in coming years.
"...We also took into consideration that, just like with VCR tapes, there are resources to have them converted from one format to another. We anticipate that this will be the same for the existing USB in years to come," she said.
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