Aus Scenic Rail, Worlds' Steepest Passenger Railway
    2013-01-19 15:46:14         Web Editor: Wang Wei

Katoomba Scenic World is a privately owned tourist attraction located in Katoomba in the world heritage-listed Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia, about 100 kilometers west of Sydney. Scenic World is home to four attractions, the most of which famous is the Katoomba Scenic Railway.

The Blue Mountains Scenic Railway has thrilled visitors to New South Wales for over 60 years. But now it's time for the worlds' steepest passenger railway to grind to a temporary halt.

Zhang Wan takes a closer look.


The Scenic Railway is the steepest cable-driven railway in the world. It was originally constructed for a coal and oil shale mining operation in the 1880s.

From 1928 to 1945 it carried coal during the week and passengers on the weekends. The coal mine was closed in 1945 after which the train became a tourist attraction in Katoomba for decades.

However the Scenic, it's closing temporarily in January for construction to upgrade the 310 meter track and carriages. The new train is scheduled to arrive from Switzerland in early 2013.

Tourists' emotions are running high for the much-loved mountain attraction. For some it won't quite be the same.

"I rode on the first ride here in the late 1940s, and many times since."

It has become one of the state's signature attractions.

Some 25 million people have made the journey up the Blue Mountains for the experience.

In 1984 Scenic World began building a roller coaster known as the Orphan Rocker, named after the nearby Orphan Rock. It is the first roller coaster to be completely designed and manufactured in Australia. The highlight of this ride is meant to be a swooping banked turn that takes riders within meters of the edge of a 200-meter cliff.

It has in the past been referred to as a "sit down suspended" coaster, because although it is a conventional sit down coaster the trains can tilt from side to side, like a suspended coaster, giving it its name. However roller coaster has never publicly opened due to demands for redevelopment elsewhere onsite.

Former Scenic World director Philip Hammon says the railway became a tourist draw card largely by accident.

"When they opened it as a coal mine in 1928, after only a couple of years they started carrying passengers in a coal skip. They would put a burlap sack over the inside of the coal skip so as not to not dirty the dresses too much."

Current director Anthea Hammon says the train has simply run its track.

"So every piece of machinery has a finite lifespan. The design life of the current scenic railway was about 20 years, and we're at about 18 now."

Times have changed but the thrill of the mountain railway remains. A man and his son just back from the ride say they had a great time.

"That was really lovely and we enjoyed it and my son was just getting crazy."

And a group of young women say they never tire of the railway.

"We've been on it thousands, I don't know, thousands of times. It's great. We love it every time."

For CRI, I am Zhang Wan.


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