(See also the history of the Tramways.)
The railway line from Spencer Street to Essendon was constructed by 1860. In 1861 a spur line was constructed to Flemington Racecourse. As was quite common at this stage of railway development in the colony the line was constructed and owned by a private syndicate. The syndicate was known as the Melbourne and Essendon Company and involved some members of the McCracken family.
Unfortunately due to financial constraints the 4.5 miles of track built by the company was of questionable standard. Although the initial service provided was for eleven trains per day in each direction, the service proved to be unreliable with frequent cancellations.
The line was a financial disaster for the owners and was closed in 1864.
After lengthy negotiations the line was sold to the Government in 1867, for a sum of 23,000 pounds. It was estimated at that time that a further 16,000 pounds would need to be spent to upgrade and repair the line to a satisfactory standard. After the repair works had been carried out the railway line to Essendon was reopened at the start of 1871. The Government wanted the line firstly because it had a profitable branch line to Flemington Racecourse. The Government later saw the line as the first leg of a railway route to Wodonga and then on to Sydney.
The line was extended through the Strathmore area to Broadmeadows by 1872. There were initially nine trains daily to Broadmeadows. The line was continued to near Seymour, also in 1872, and to Wodonga by 1883.
Strathmore Railway Station (then known as North Essendon Station) was opened in 1890. Later, as the area developed and the volume of traffic on Pascoe Vale Road increased, this crossing became one of the worse traffic bottlenecks in Melbourne. In 1961 works commenced on the railway line overpass, with two lanes opened for traffic in late 1963 and the other two lanes in 1964.
The name of the North Essendon Railway Station changed to Strathmore in 1955.
Electrification of the line from Flinders St. to Essendon occurred in 1919 with the rest of the line to Broadmeadows being electrified in 1921. Prior to this the line was serviced by steam engines. The section of track between Strathmore and Glenroy was quite steep, rising 300 feet in 3 miles. This rise, variously known as Oliver's Bank or Glenroy Bank, proved to be quite a challenge for some of the heavily loaded steam trains of the time.
Glenbervie Railway Station was opened in 1922. Originally the station was to be called Napier but as there were already three other Victorian places called Napier, the name of Glenbervie was chosen, after a place in Scotland.
The Broadmeadows - Albion goods line, which crosses
the Moonee Ponds Creek Valley on a high steel trestle
bridge to the north of Strathmore Heights, was opened in
1929 - see further information below. By 1962 standard
gauge railway track was installed on this line, parallel
to the existing broad gauge, at last making it possible
for passengers and freight to travel between Melbourne and
Sydney without changing trains. This also removed the
interstate passenger trains from the Broadmeadows
(Craigeburn) suburban line.
Also read the history of the Essendon
Further historical information and photos on the trestle bridge - pdf#. Note that this was history was prepared by Andre Braakhuis of the Gowanbrae Residents Group and was originally on their website. The website no longer exists - replaced by a Facebook Page. I have taken the liberty of putting a PDF of this history of the bridge taken from their original website to this site. If Andre or Gowanbrae Residents Group wish to reclaim this history or otherwise discuss this, please contact me. Also the Victorian Heritage Database listing.)