Major project rebuilds the railway from the ground up

Working on the damaged embankment at the Zig Zag railway.
Working on the damaged embankment at the Zig Zag railway.

For the first time in 30 years the rail connection between Zig Zag Railway’s Clarence and Bottom Points stations is no longer – and it’s all in the name of progress.

The embankment at the western end of the Clarence Tunnel was significantly damaged by a storm in 2012, leaving the tracks unsuitable for rail traffic.

Zig Zag Railway chairman, Lee Wiggins, said the project to rebuild the damaged section was key to seeing steam trains run again.

“This section of track is one of the best known along the Zig Zag line, as it runs alongside the main road,” Mr Wiggins said.

“In 2012 a massive storm hit the area, washing away a section under the tracks, meaning we could not run trains over this key section.

“But after a lot of hard work, the diggers have moved in, the tracks have been temporarily removed and the rebuilding has begun.

“In simple terms, we have removed the sections of track where the damage occurred so we can repair and reshape the embankment before reinstating the track.

“For the more technical minded, we are excavating the original embankment, forming terraces, building a rock basket retaining wall and replacing the remainder with compacted fill.

“Plus, we are adding in extra drainage to further protect the site.

"This is one of the most exciting projects to be undertaken yet. Its success is key to returning passengers to Zig Zag Railway in the future."

Once complete, the repaired track will allow trains to be run along the full length of track, which is key to several other projects, such as removing the scrap from the 2013 bushfire, retraining crews and allow building materials to be transported in to undertake repair works on the Bottom Points workshop. As well as ultimately seeing the railway return to service in the future.

Mr Wiggins said it was nice to be completing a part of the overall project to get us running where the community can see the progress.

“Our volunteers have done a great job updating Clarence Station, but a lot of the work our volunteers do is behind the scenes or out of sight of the public,” Mr Wiggins added.

“We have had many interested locals checking in to see what we are up to, and we are excited to report it’s all good news.”

The earth and drainage works are expected to be completed by mid-August, at which time volunteers will begin the task of re-laying the tracks.

Tracks removed for embankment work.

Tracks removed for embankment work.

Zig Zag Railway would like to thank the NSW Department of Industry (Crown land) for their continued assistance on the project.