Thursday, April 27, 2017
NSW Railway Engineering History
Last week, Mum had a few days off work so we did and overnight roadtrip to check out some historic things a few hours to the west of Canberra. The top images are of the Junee Roundhouse. Junee is nearly exactly half-way on the main southern railway line between Sydney and Melbourne. The line started operations back in 1878 and Junee became an important railway depot. In 1947 this huge roundhouse was built to service and repair locomotives and rolling stock. It is one of the few completely circular roundhouses and had the largest turntable in the southern hemisphere. The rail depot closed in 1993 and the roundhouse was taken over by commercial companies who use half of it to recondition locos. The other half is a museum. It is impossible to get a photo that shows the whole roundhouse, so I have copied a section of Google Eatrh that shows it. The bottom images are of a clever bit of railway engineering near the town of Bethungra, north of Junee. Here the line has to climb a steep gradient and until the early 1940s several extra engines had to be attached to boost the trains up the slope. The solution was to build a diversion that spirals around a convenient hill. That made the climb possible for all trains. Trains going downhill still use the original line, trains going uphill use the spiral. The closest I could get was a small parking bay off the highway where I could see three lines of track - the original line closest to the road and two lines of the spiral track going up the hill. Once again, Google Earth shows it clearly although you probably need to check it out using GE to get a bigger view.