Sydney’s Transport History – The Worlds Steepest Railway

Many people are surprised to hear the steepest railway in the work is right here in New South Wales. Located at Scenic World in Katoomba, the “Scenic Railway” isn’t your standard everyday train line.

The short and steep line forms one of many attractions at Scenic World in Katoomba, which also includes the worlds steepest cable car. Guests can access the line for a fee, with services every 10 minutes between 9am and 5pm.

The line was originally bulit as a freight line to haul coal and oil shale from mines on the floor of the Jamieson Valley up to the escarpment above back in 1878. From 1928, the miners began supplementing their income by operating services for passengers on weekends. This service continued until the closure of the mine in 1945.

Since then the line has operated as a tourist attraction, with multiple major refurbishments of the line being conducted. The original steam winch train used for passenger services back in 1928 was named Jessie carried 12 passengers. Jessie was replaced by the Mountain Devil, a 23 passenger electric winch trains in 1935. By 1952 these trains had been replaced by newer 28 passenger trains. Newer, larger trains were again introduced in 1974 and 1994. Most recently all the tracks and the rolling stock were replaced in early 2013. This saw the number of carriages increased to four, carrying 84 passengers.

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The railway in operation today

The line is what is known as an Incline Cable Railway, which means that the trains on the line are hauled by a cable. The line has an incline of 52° or 122% on its steepest section, which is the steepest incline on any railway in the world. In the 310 metres the line travels, it loses 205 metres in elevation whilst travelling at 4m/s.

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