Full steam ahead: Zig Zag Railway receives $3.6 million for restorationsteamlocomotives,railwayrestoration,ZigZagRailway,heritagepreservation,funding,historictransportation
Full steam ahead: Zig Zag Railway receives $3.6 million for restoration

Full steam ahead: Zig Zag Railway receives $3.6 million for restoration

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Zig Zag Railway Back on Track with $3.6 Million Restoration

The Restoration and Resurgence of a Historic Railway

The Blue Mountains’ renowned Zig Zag Railway has officially reopened its doors, thanks to a $3.6 million restoration project of its locomotive workshop. The grand reopening is the result of collaborative efforts between local councils, Crown lands, and the Zig Zag Railway co-op. This restoration, funded by the New South Wales (NSW) Government through Crown Lands, involved the replacement of major structural components, the installation of stormwater drainage, and fire safety upgrades.

This ambitious project faced numerous challenges, primarily related to logistical and access issues given the workshop’s location alongside the main Sydney train line. However, despite these obstacles, the restoration was successfully completed, breathing new life into the Zig Zag Railway.

The restoration of the workshop is essential to the railway’s continued operations and maintenance of its locomotives and carriages. As the railway has been operational for an impressive 154 years, preservation efforts are crucial to ensuring its heritage and historical significance are upheld.

A Historical Journey: From Inception to Resurrection

The Zig Zag Railway initially opened on October 18, 1869, as part of the Main Western rail line, serving mountain runs until 1910 when a track deviation was installed. In 1975, the not-for-profit Zig Zag Railway Co-op resurrected the heritage-listed railway, only to face setbacks due to severe bushfire damage in 2013 and 2019, as well as storm damage. These natural disasters wreaked havoc on the locomotive workshop, trains, passenger and accommodation carriages, rail lines, sleepers, electrical equipment, and the railway’s office, including decades of precious records.

Despite these devastating setbacks, the Zig Zag Railway, along with its dedicated volunteers, displayed resilience and commitment in restoring the railway. They successfully rebuilt the safety management system, network rules, procedures, and rail policies, ultimately earning accreditation from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator to resume passenger services.

Government Support and Tourism Impact

The NSW Government played a significant role in the restoration process, contributing over $5.9 million through Crown Lands and the Department of Regional NSW. Of this funding, $3.6 million was allocated to restore the locomotive workshop, with additional funds used for constructing a car park, pedestrian crossing, and amenities block to support the railway’s volunteers.

Minister for Lands and Property, Steve Kamper, emphasized the government’s commitment to supporting this historical landmark. He highlighted the importance of preserving the railway’s heritage and the positive impact it has on tourism, businesses, and job opportunities in the Blue Mountains and Lithgow regions.

The reopening of the Zig Zag Railway’s workshop signifies a vital step in showcasing Australia’s steam train era to a new generation of young railway enthusiasts. The Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Jenny Aitchison, expressed her delight at witnessing the railway’s revival after enduring multiple setbacks, including bushfires, floods, and storm damage.

The Workshop: A Symbol of Restoration and Future Potential

The restoration of the workshop holds immense significance for both the Zig Zag Railway and the community involved in this project. Zig Zag Railway CEO, Daniel Zolfel, expressed his gratitude to the team responsible for completing this large-scale and intricate restoration. This workshop’s revival signifies the ability of Zig Zag Railway to maintain its rolling stock, including steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, and carriages. Additionally, it opens the possibility of recommissioning additional locomotives and carriages, further enhancing the railway’s fleet.

The Zig Zag Railway has long been a tourism icon, attracting up to 80,000 visitors annually. With its full operation in effect once again, this historic landmark’s restoration is expected to boost tourism, businesses, and employment opportunities in the Blue Mountains and Lithgow regions.

Conclusion: A Milestone in Heritage Preservation

The completion of the $3.6 million restoration project for the Zig Zag Railway’s locomotive workshop marks a significant milestone in the preservation of Australia’s historical transportation. This comprehensive revitalization effort, supported by the NSW Government, local councils, Crown lands, and the Zig Zag Railway co-op, showcases the power of collaborative endeavors. It highlights the dedication of volunteers and their commitment to maintaining our precious heritage.

The resurrection of this iconic tourist attraction not only brings joy to locals and visitors but also ensures that the story of Australia’s steam train era will be passed down to future generations. As we celebrate the reopening of the Zig Zag Railway, we commend the resilience and hard work of those involved. It is a testament to the importance of preserving our history, embracing our communal spirit, and choo-choo-choosing collaboration in the face of challenges.


Full steam ahead: Zig Zag Railway receives $3.6 million for restoration
<< photo by Egor Vikhrev >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Hannah McKenzie

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