After years of restoration works and anticipation, the historic Zig Zag Railway in the NSW town of Lithgow will reopen to the public on the weekend of Saturday 27th May and 28th May.
Dozens of volunteers and staff have been working tirelessly to remodel and repaint train carriages, renovate the station building, install an on-site cafe and carry out safety checks to ensure the railway is ready to welcome back families and rail enthusiasts alike.
Zig Zag Railway Acting CEO Daniel Zolfel said the rebirth of the railway would not be possible without the volunteers behind it, along with the support of the local community and all levels of government.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to lead the Zig Zag Railway into the next chapter as a national icon,” said Mr Zolfel.
“Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of Zig Zag and one of the driving forces behind me getting involved initially as a volunteer was so that I could leave it behind for my own children,” he added.
Zig Zag Railway Chairman Lee Burton said it’s an exciting time for everyone involved.
“I’m immensely proud of the work all of our volunteers, the senior leadership team and our small number of staff have executed on behalf of the Zig Zag Railway board,” said Mr Burton.
“I can’t wait to once again share our historic railway with not only the people of Lithgow and NSW but from all over Australia and beyond,” he added.
The Railway first opened in the 1860s as the first rail link between Sydney and Western NSW, but closed in 1910 following a deviation of the main line to by-pass the inefficient ‘zig zag’. It was resurrected in the 1970s by volunteers who banded together to create the not-for-profit Zig Zag Railway Co-Op before closing in 2012.
Despite setbacks, including a horror run with bushfires in 2013 and 2019, coupled with floods, vandalism and recent storm damage, volunteers have been working tirelessly to return the railway to passenger services by restoring locomotives, carriages and kilometres of track. It’s now full steam ahead for Australia’s most iconic tourist railway.
“Passengers will be able to take in the experience onboard steam locomotive AC16 218, affectionately known as ‘The Yank’. Weighing in at 54,000 kilograms, it is one of two of the surviving class of 20 imported to Australia from the U.S. as part of the war effort in 1943,” said Mr Zolfel.
“We’ll be running three trips on Saturdays and Sundays every fortnight, with passengers taking the 90 minute journey which traverses the seven-and-a-half kilometre track, travelling through tunnels and over the viaducts with two stops along the way,” he said.
“Passengers will get to see first-hand how locomotives used to operate during Australia’s steam train era, as a volunteer fireman shovels coal into the train’s red-hot firebox.”
Ticket prices will be $45 for adults, $27.50 for children (3- 12 yrs) and concession card holders, or $120 for a family of four.
The Zig Zag Railway is staffed by dozens of active volunteers who have all received extensive professional training as part of the railway’s completely revamped safety management system – an industry best-practice model that sees the Zig Zag return as one of the safest railways of its type in the world.
Zig Zag would like to thank all of its community and government partners for their support and funding over the years as we reopen.
Image Credit: Craig Marshall
For more information visit the Zig Zag Railway https://zigzagrailway.au