The Unanderra – Moss Vale railway line is a cross country railway line in New South Wales, Australia. The line branches from the Illawarra (South Coast) railway line at the town of Unanderra and winds west over the Illawarra escarpment to the Southern Highlands town of Moss Vale. The line is one of the most scenic in New South Wales, and for the first 20 km after leaving Unanderra has an almost continuous grade 1 in 30 providing spectacular view over the Illawarra coastline.[1]

Course Edit

The length of the line is 57 kilometres, and is double track from Unanderra to Dombarton. The line is single track thereafter with several crossing loops. The double track section was built as part of the now abandoned Maldon to Dombarton railway line, and unfinished staunchions line this section as part of the proposed electrification.

The line connects the following current and former passenger stations:[2]

History Edit

The line was first proposed in the 1880s by residents of Moss Vale and local industry keen for a connection to the port at Port Kembla.

Construction began on 26 June 1925, and was completed on 20 August 1932.[4]

The line initially carried mainly limestone from the Marulan Quarry to Port Kembla Steelworks, but also vegetables from Robertson to Sydney and later, coal. Daily steam-hauled passenger trains operated from 1932, which were later replaced by diesel hauled trains, then rail-motors. A weekend excursion train operated until the early 1990s, prior to its replacement by the privately operated Cockatoo Run steam hauled weekend tourist train. This train, operated by 3801 Limited continues to operate to the present day but is hauled by a diesel electric locomotive. Limestone freight continues to be hauled, and the line remains a valuable freight link to the Wollongong area and a useful bypass line when engineering works close the Main South Line. Occasionally, when there is trackwork on the Southern Highlands Line, CountryLink XPT services from Melbourne may operate via this line, and continue to Central via the South Coast Line. (As of 2009, this does not or rarely happen unless it is a chartered Countrylink service) [5]

Services Edit

CityRail road coach service is now provided in lieu of the former rail service. The service stops at Wollongong, Dapto and Albion Park railway stations; bus stops on Hoddle Street in both Burrawang and Robertson; then at Bowral, Moss Vale, Exeter and Bundanoon railway stations.

Maldon-Dombarton Line Edit

In 1983 State Rail began construction of a line connecting Maldon, on the Southern Highlands line near Picton, with Dombarton near Port Kembla. Construction ceased in 1988. The project would have created the longest tunnel in Australia: the 4-km Avon Tunnel. Part of the incomplete tunnel, as well approaches to a bridge over the Cordeaux River, are visible today.[6]

In 2009 a pre-feasibility report into completing the line was conducted by the Commonwealth Government which found the project could be viable.[7] Following the report a full feasibility study was conducted.[8] The study has been completed but has not yet been released. A spokesperson for the federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said it would be released when "properly considered".[9]

Deviation Edit

A section of the line was deviated in the 1960s to avoid the site of a new lake built for water supply and power generation purposes.

References Edit

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