In 1883 George William Townsend, a surveyor with the Railway Department of NSW mapped out a possible route for a railway heading north from from Emu Plains on the Nepean River near Penrith, crossing Wheeny Creek and following the Colo River valley before veering west to Rylstone. Initially the proposal gained wide approval but by the 1890s this route had been deemed impractical and too expensive by government engineers and Townsend had resigned from his position.
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The report of Mr. E. B, Price on the proposed Colo Valley Railway was laid upon the table of the Legislative Assembly a few evenings ago. The document showed that the line had been surveyed from Emu Plains to Rylstone, on the Mudgee line, and there appeared to be little doubt that 1 in 100 grades and 20-chain curves could be obtained right through, though at enormous expense. Mr. Townsend estimated the cost at Â£3,500,000, but Mr. Whitton considered the line could not be constructed under Â£5,000,000. The greater portion of the new country that would be opened up appeared to be of little value - too small, in fact, to do more than pay for the maintenance of the line. Its principal traffic would be derived from the area at present served by the existing railway. No scheme had yet been brought under notice which offered equal advantages to the proposal to duplicate and improve the mountain section of the existing railway. Even should a suitable alternative line be afterwards discovered, the money spent in duplication would not be lost, as the mountain traffic alone would before long become too great for a single track.
Townsend was employed as an engineer and draftsman from June 1882.
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