Monday 23 March 2020

Wairarapa Line [0T]: Volume 6 Progress Update 20

Welcome to Volume 6 Progress Update 20. Since our last update we have completed mapping all the way to Upper Hutt and are updating online photo albums on various platforms with the newest maps.

We are now going into the maps of the section from Upper Hutt to Featherston. In this section on the current main line there are only stations within the section at Maymorn and Rimutaka Loop as a significant part of the line is within the Rimutaka Tunnel. (N.B. Although certain features named with "Rimutaka" have been changed recently, we have not received any information about changes to the names of railway features)

However on the historical route closed in 1955, which we are calling the "Rimutaka Incline Section", there is obviously a lot of interest, and we have been able to obtain full historical coverage of the route, mostly from 1943, and this will be the major focus for map production in this section.

The project will continue to be documented both on Facebook and on our site and mailing list which has been recently established as a FB alternative. We also will be keeping up with this blog and website as previously.

The webmaster of the Valley Signals website has very kindly provided some additional resources to document the route, especially the "Rimutaka Incline Section", and we will be working through these this week as well.

A 1943 view of the first curve just beyond Upper Hutt. 

The old and new routes ran next to each other from Upper Hutt until they passed what is now a bridge over Park Street (it was then an embankment, as the road did not exist in the 1940s). This bridge is marked by the caption B35 on the map. By the time of reaching the beginning of the curve, there was already a significant difference in height, with the old line climbing steeply from Upper Hutt at 1 in 35, the present route gradient being significantly gentler. It can be observed that the two routes crossed over at the end of what was quite a sharp curve on the old line, and a bridge was installed for the original route during the construction era to allow cutting excavations to proceed on the deviation. After the Rimutaka Incline section closed, there was a gap of several days during which this bridge was removed, and the cutting excavated to the correct lower level needed to finish the Rimutaka Deviation and to finish the track laying needed to get the new line open, which would include connecting up the new route in the Upper Hutt yard.

We suppose that in theory it should be possible to observe the old embankment and cutting leading up to this crossover from Upper Hutt but as we have no means to travel there, much less time to spend attempting to investigate old railway embankments and cuttings especially with the growth of gorse and other bush in these areas, that remains an open question. The old cuttings and embankments in parts of this route remain visible to some extent but are greatly overgrown at present, although access to the first tunnel between Upper Hutt and Mangaroa has been improved in recent years.

The below map shows the view of the area in 1970. Park Street was built through some time in the 1970s (after the time this was taken). The old roadbed is fairly easy to see around the cutting, not so easy to see after it crosses over and starts to run through a series of other cuttings and embankments to climb over the hill to Mangaroa. This is really the only significant part of the route on the Upper Hutt side and certainly the only tunnel that does not have official public access.