Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Otago Central Railway – 2 : Wingatui to Middlemarch

The first section of the line, construction began in 1879. It was opened to Middlemarch in 1891. This section incorporates the spectacular Taieri Gorge which contains 18 bridges and 10 tunnels in 35 km of track. There is a major summit at Salisbury at the entrance to the gorge and another at Pukerangi at the gorge exit.

Kilometrage: 0.00 to 66.95 (for the purposes of this page; Middlemarch station is at 64 km)

Gradients: The line is at altitude 34 metres at Wingatui dropping to 28 metres at Taieri Industrial Estate. It then climbs to the first of five summits at Salisbury (148 metres), dropping again to 54 metres at Parera and then climbing to a second summit of 250 metres at Pukerangi. Middlemarch is at 201 metres. The major inclinations are either side of Salisbury being 1 in 50 in both directions.

Bridges: There are 19 major bridges in this section ranging from the 16 metre Notches structures in the Taieri Gorge to the 197 metre Wingatui Viaduct, which is also the highest at 47 metres. Total length of these bridges is 1020 metres. One road and rail bridge exists from the original NZR line at Sutton Stream. The TGRL has also converted a rail bridge in the Gorge for use by road and rail traffic.

Tunnels: There are 10 tunnels in this section, ranging from the 55 metre Machine Creek to the 437 metre Salisbury. All of these are in the Taieri Gorge. Total length of these is 1491 metres.

Stations: There are 29 identified locations in this section. These include stations, sidings, service locations and proposed locations for the above, that were never actually developed. Some locations in the Taieri Gorge historically had limited or no road access. The geography of the gorge was a challenge in the provision of station facilities particularly crossing loops. Some facilities have been reinstated by the Taieri Gorge Railway Ltd. Middlemarch is the major population centre and is where the TGL ends and the rail trail begins. The station and environs at Middlemarch have been restored.

Current Status: The line is owned between Taieri and Middlemarch by the Taieri Gorge Railway Ltd and is in regular use. The Central Otago Rail Trail begins at the end of the line.

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