rail line from Sydney to Bathurst reached Lithgow in
1869 and saw the focus of development shift from the
road centred town of Bowenfels,
requirements of the New South Wales Railways for supplies
of good steaming coal, of which
Lithgow had in abundance, and
steel for the construction and maintenance of the rail
network provided the catalyst for the industrialisation
was to develop as the rail-head for the western region.
Two stations were built in Lithgow to service the development
of the coalmines, blast
and other industries. EskBank Station was positioned
at one end of Main Street and Lithgow Station at the
other. The line was then taken to Bowenfels and extended
and Rydal in 1870, eventually reaching Bathurst in1876.
A further branch was also taken out toward Mudgee, with
the first section to Capertee being completed in 1882.
number of sidings were built off these main lines to
provide access for the major collieries including the
Wallerawang Colliery branch line, opened in 1924, the
Cal Colliery siding and Vale of Clwydd Company siding
both developed in 1927 and abandoned in 1931.
critical factor in the construction of the line to
Bathurst was the descent to the Lithgow Valley. It
decided that a 'Zig-Zag'
would be constructed which would progress trains down
the escarpment by a forward and backward (zig-zag) movement
by specifically arranged grades and bridges.
of the major limitations of the zig-zag system was that
because the rail continually changed direction, the
length of trains to use the line was limited. This limitation
was to have long term implications in terms of the cost
and viability of transporting goods from Lithgow and
the surrounding district to coastal markets.
demand for rail transport increased and the engines
grew larger, the Zig-Zag became inadequate. This led,
in 1910, to the construction of ten tunnels to allow
movement of trains from Mount Victoria to the valley
below. An additional station between the Lithgow and
Esk Bank Stations was also constructed to provide greater
convenience for the train passengers. The former Zig-Zag
operates as a tourist attraction in Lithgow.
1951 the western rail line was to be electrified to
ahead of both Wollongong and Newcastle line electrifications.
Proposals by the NSW Railways associated with the electrification
of the line were to provide asignificant impetus, particularly
for the development of Wallerawang. New town plans were
drawn up for Wallerawang. This was to include large
railway workshops and a powerstation to supply the railways.
The power station was to be supported by the Newcom
decisions ensured that the main electrified line did
not go further than Lithgow.
The railway workshops were, as a result, built at Lithgow
and the plans for the town of Wallerawang
were never brought to fruition.
the decision in 1968 by the government to move the
diesel workshops to Bathurst reduced the workshop operations
in Lithgow.To compensate for this, the railway goods
yards were increased at Lithgow at the expense of the
yards at Wallerawang.
City of Greater Lithgow acknowledges and appreciates
the History excerpts taken from the Draft
Economic Development Strategy for Lithgow
which was researched and compiled by Economic and Community
Development Class, University of Sydney October 1996