The Picton-Mittagong Loop Line is a partly disused railway line between the towns of Picton and Mittagong in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia.


The Picton-Mittagong line was originally built in 1867[1] to extend the Main Southern Line. The line originally ran westwards from Picton Station, over the Picton Viaduct, across the Great South Road,[n. 1] thence through a 592 ft tunnel in the Redbank Range and turned southwest.

Stations were constructed at Thirlmere (1885), Couridjah (1867), Buxton (1893), Balmoral (1878), Hill Top (1878), Colo Vale (1883) and Braemar, 1867. There were a number of smaller stops ('halts'), sidings and passing loops along the line, as well. North of Hill Top, the cutting through Big Hill was for many years the deepest in Australia (see Fig. 15); the extraordinary manual effort required for its construction is celebrated by a memorial nearby .[2][n. 2]

To service the line, Picton became a busy station with an engine depot for bank engines, dormitories for train crews, and goods sidings.[3][4]

The original Main Line, while gently curved, had gradients as steep as 1 in 30. It was also a single-track line, and even though deviations were constructed between Hill Top and Colo Vale to ease grades, these factors combined to create a bottleneck, as rail traffic increased. In 1919, the main railway shifted eastwards to an alignment with 300 metre radius curves and much easier 1 in 75 grades; the track was also duplicated.[n. 3] The old line and stations continued to be used for passenger services until 1978.[5]

The Loop Line TodayEdit

The Loop Line now consists of a section of permanent way between Picton and Buxton which is regularly used by excursion trains (see Fig. 13). Some of the remainder of the track southwards from Buxton is overgrown or decaying, and impassable by rail traffic. The road underbridge at Colo Vale is disused and condemned (see Fig. 22). The section from the turnout north of Mittagong to Braemar station is still in use for goods traffic to and from a concrete railway sleeper factory and the railway wagon plant.

Coach RouteEdit

CityRail, the commuter division of RailCorp, operates coaches in lieu of the former rail service. Six services are provided in each direction on weekdays:

Railway Transport Museum UseEdit

The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, located in Thirlmere and accredited as a rail operator, currently leases and maintains a 14 km. section of the line to run historic-train trips.[6]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. A lodge was built for the gatekeeper of the railway crossing, and remains beside the current Argyle Street. See Fig. 3
  2. Sequences of the documentary A Steam Train Passes were filmed here.
  3. The original proposal was for the line to be shifted considerably further eastwards; in effect, from Appin to Bargo. This was strongly opposed in Parliament by Picton local interests, hence the almost 360° curve in the current Main Line Railway at Picton. See Bayley Loop Line p. 48
  1. Singleton, C.C. Centenary of the opening of the Southern Line to Mittagong Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin March 1967 pp. 49-68
  2. Bayley, W. A. 1973. Picton-Mittagong Loop-Line Railway. Bulli: Austrail. ISBN 0-909597-14-6
  3. Bayley, W. A. 1975. Picton-Mittagong Main Line Railway. Bulli: Austrail. ISBN 0-909597-15-4
  4. Wright, Harry. "Picton Locomotive Depot and the Picton-Mittagong Loop Line", Roundhouse Vol. 41, No. 2, April 2004. pp. 5-15
  5. Template:Cite web
  6. Template:Cite web

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