The Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum is a railway museum located in Valley Heights, New South Wales, Australia. It is operated by the Blue Mountains Division of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum.
The Steam Tram and Railway Preservation Society operates the Valley Heights Steam Tramway, which is also located in the former locomotive depot at Valley Heights. The facility is located near the Valley Heights railway station.
The locomotive depot was constructed in 1913 when the duplication of the line between Glenbrook and Emu Plains was completed through the Blue Mountains. The depot was available for service on December 21, 1913, but was not officially opened till January 31, 1914. With the duplication and regrading of the line, the heavy grades below Valley Heights had been eliminated, the ruling gradient from Penrith to Valley Heights being 1 in 60 (1.6%).
The depot at Valley Heights consisted of a locomotive yard, a 10 bay roundhouse, 18 metre (60 ft) turntable, an elevated coal stage, and water tanks and columns. It provided pilot (assistant) engines for trains travelling to Katoomba and beyond. Pilot engines were placed in the lead of the trains' "through" engine over a given section of track. The engines at Valley Heights not only piloted over the longest distance in NSW, but also had the envious distinction of having to operate over the longest continual and most steeply graded mainline in Australasia. The section from Valley Heights to Katoomba, a distance of 20 miles 16 chains (32.7 km) has a ruling grade of in 1 in 33 (3.3%), rose a total of 2,200 ft (670 m), the gradients varying from 1 in 60 (1.6%) to the steepest of 1 in 31 (3.2%).
During the steam era the depot had a continual allotment of eight goods engines and generally two passenger engines. During the peak of the steam era an average of 30 trains during any 24 hour period required piloting from Valley Heights to Katoomba.
The western line was electrified (1500 volts DC) to Valley Heights on October 23, 1956. On February 2, 1957 steam operations from Valley Heights were replaced by the 46 class electric locomotives which assisted trains from Valley Heights to Katoomba. From that train all steam hauled trains, both freight and passenger were electrically assisted to Katoomba, until complete electrification saw steam removed from the scene.
The depot in latter years was basically a very efficient freight wagon and electric locomotive repair workshop, the electric engines receiving minor repairs and complete overhauls at the depot. A variety of freight wagons were also repaired at the depot. The demise of Valley Heights depot began when the 85 class electric locomotives were introduced in 1979 and through working of freight trains commenced. The demise was accelerated with the introduction of the 86 class locomotives in early 1983. From the mid 1980s the number of trains requiring piloting from Valley Heights had been reduced to a handful each day, the number of locomotives required for this duty being reduced to only 3, sometimes as few as 2 being necessary.
With the announcement of the closure of Valley Heights depot by the Greiner Government in October 1988, the depot was gradually closed and equipment removed. One electric locomotive remained available for any pilot work necessary, until the last week of January 1989 when electric locomotive 4627 had the distinction operating the last train to be piloted from Valley Heights to Katoomba.
During the 1990s volunteers began the huge task of restoring the depot building which has now become the Blue Mountains Division of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum.
During 2007, the Valley Heights Steam Tramway built an engine shed (designed similarly to that at Dubbo station) on the site to house their collection.
During 2008, the Museum completed restoration of the former chargeman's building as a small exhibits centre.
Locomotives currently on display and/or under restoration at Valley Heights include:
- Ex NSWGR 5711 (transferred from Thirlmere to Valley Heights in 2007; dismantled and under restoration)
- 3214 (transferred from New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, Thirlmere to Valley Heights)
- 1308 (dismantled)
Also housed are ex Blue Circle Southern Cement Portland No 2 and ex Sydney Tram 103a.