If you have found the Coals to Newcastle web sites to be of value please make a donation to help keep them on the Internet. Donations will cover hosting and domain costs.

Home of the Great Zig Zag Railway

This is the home page of the Great Zig Zag Railway and hosts content relevant to the Great Zig Zag Railway.

This route is based upon the Great Zig Zag railway between Mt Victoria and Bowenfels.

On the 18 Oct 1869 the first official train pulled into Bowenfels Station, west of Lithgow, on the Great Western line from Sydney. The Blue Mountains had been successfully crossed and with further extensions the railway would open up land to the west of New South Wales.

The Blue Mountains represented a significant geographical boundary, as they rose to a height of approximately 3500' (1066m). The NSW Government was pushing strongly for a cheap and speedy way to extend the new railways over the Blue Mountains. The NSWGR explored a number of options to get up the mountains and down on the other side.

In the end two Zig Zags were built, one to climb the eastern side, at Lapstone, and one to descend the western side at Lithgow. This second one was know as the "Great Zig Zag", and was hailed as an international engineering marvel in its day. The Great Zig Zag operated between 1869 and 1910, when it was bypassed by a 10 tunnel deviation.

The Zig Zag lowered the line by approximately 500' (170m) in 5 miles (8 kms) at a ruling gradient of 1 in 42. This was marginally easier then the gradient ascending the Blue Mountains on the eastern side, which was 1 in 33.

When first opened, trains were required to reverse up or down the "middle Road", however this proved to be a dangerous activity, so run around facilities were provided to eliminate the need to do this. Though this added extra train occupancy time to the route and resulted in it becoming a major bottle-neck.

To attempt to alleviate the congestion a number of changes were made toi the Western line between 1880 and 1910, and these included:

This route represents the Main West in the period between 1897, when the Dargans Creek Deviation was built to eliminate some 1 in 33 track between Bell and Clarence, and just prior to the opening of the 10 tunnel deviation.

General NWSGR content and information is available on the Coals to Newcastle site (or see link above on toolbar).

Screenshots and Activities

If you would like to submit any activities or screenshots, please contact me through the contact page.

New Stuff

08 January 2019 - Great Zig Zag Railway route upgraded to v1.3.1 (Includes Extra Tutorial Activity) - download.

19 November 2018 - Great Zig Zag Railway route upgraded to v1.3 (Includes Tutorial Activities) - download.

23 January 2017 - Great Zig Zag Railway route upgraded to v1.2 - download.

24 Febuary 2016 - Tutorial activity #5 available for download.

29 March 2016 - Route updated to v1.1 to suit OR v1.1 - Download.

15 March 2016 - Tutorial activity available for download.

24 Febuary 2016 - Tutorial activity available for download.

27 June 2015 - W90 - Up Goods activity available for download.