Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Last day of the Rimutaka Incline


On the last day of operation of the Rimutaka Incline, 29 October 1955, a pair of DEs take a passenger train up the grade out of Upper Hutt for Summit. In the foreground is the Rimutaka Deviation which is notable for the much less severe gradient; this route opened four days later.


From an Evening Post aerial shot of Upper Hutt taken after the deviation opened, we can see the same general area as in the top photo, although looking the other way. The old line crossed over the top of the new one at the cutting shown in the background. During construction of the deviation, a small part of the old embankment was excavated and replaced by a bridge to allow access. During the three day hiatus between closure of the old route and opening of the new, the bridge was removed and the cutting excavated to its full depth. Most likely this was not done earlier to avoid undermining the old route unduly. This also meant direct access to the deviation by rail from Upper Hutt was not possible, and the access was instead provided by the old route as far as Maymorn, where a siding connection was provided, steeply graded at 1 in 30 and with sharp curves. In the foreground is the level crossing at King St. This was closed some years later, and an underpass provided at Park St at the base of the cutting. The old route can be seen out to the right of the current route at the very top centre of the picture.


A Google Earth view of Upper Hutt similar to the previous photo, showing numerous changes. Of significance in relation to the old route was the development of the Kingsley Heights subdivision some years ago, which destroyed part of the old route embankment. Beyond this area some of the major cuttings and embankments still remain, as does the Cruickshanks Tunnel, which is proposed to be reopened for public access by Wellington City Council in the near future. The original route formation at the top of the cutting is assumed to still exist and would be interesting to explore also.