On a beautiful spring morning W23 Passenger Train treads carefull as it descends the 1 in 40 slope of the Top Road of the Zig Zag near Lithgow. The Zig Zag was built in 1869 to allow trains to descend from the Blue Mountains to Lithgow and the Western Plains of NSW.
Once it has cleared Top Points W23 starts to descend the Middle Road of the Zig Zag. Following a number of accidents, the reversing of passenger trains down or up the Zig Zag was deemed to be unsafe, and the points at the top and bottom of the Zig Zag were lengthened in order to allow the train locomotive to run around it trains.
The fireman on a local passenger service from Esbank (Lithgow) takes a quick breather to admire the spectacular scenery as his train ascends the 1 in 42 grade on the Top Road of the Zig Zag.
The signalman at Edgecombe gets ready to exchange the staff with a local passenger service heading towards Sydney.
Having sent the local passenger service on its way, the signalman can relax until the next service reaches him. Edgecombe was built in 1902 to reduce traffic restrictions on the Zig Zag section and was quite an isolated area.
W20a enters the western end of the Clarence tunnel. Whilst the tunnel is only on a 1 in 66 grade, the fireman has been working hard to keep the steam up as the train has been climbing for many miles now.
Local passenger service leaves Clarence via the 1897 deviation. The original main line entered Clarence on the LHS of the picture, however this had a steep 1 in 33 grade and was therefore by-passed once traffic levels increased to the point where it became a major bottleneck.
A view of W20a from the road bridge as it leaves Bell station on it way to Sydney.The area around Bell represented the highest elevation on the main western railway, and thus it is all "downhill" from here to Sydney, approx 85 miles away.
W20a leaves Harley Vale behind. Hartley Vale was a station built to provide services to the Hartley Vale Shale Oil mine and plant, which was located below it in the valley. Quite a steep walk if you needed to do it.
A narrow gauge railway was buit to haul shale oil to connect with the NSWGR at Hartley Vale. The wooden trestles were built to make it easier to laod the NSWGR stock for onward transport.
W90 was a local passenger service that ran from Eskbank to Sydney on Wednesdays only. On this winters day W90 stands at the Eskbank platform awaiting its departure to Sydney. Lithgow was one of the few places in Australia to experience snow on occasions in winter.
W37 was a down goods service that ran to Nyngan. It is in the loop at Mt Victoria where it is doing a 3 way cross with two other up services.
W100 was an Up coal service which carried coal from the many coal mines located in the Lithgow area to Sydney. In this instance A number of bogie coal wagons are hauled by a T class locomotive. It will be hard work for the fireman and driver as the climb the long 1 in 42 gradients to Clarence.