“Western Hutt Section” covers the original route of the Wairarapa Line from Petone to Haywards on the west bank of the Hutt River. This is where the line was first opened in 1875. It remained the main line until 1954 when the Hutt Valley branch on the eastern side was extended through to Haywards and became the deviation from the original route, which was closed between Melling and Haywards, in 1954. There were various reasons for changing the route that included fewer maintenance problems (the original route was close to the Hutt River and subject to erosion from the water), more room available for stations and double tracking, and the greater population in the eastern side of the valley as new housing developments were made in the 1930s and 1940s that were more conveniently served by the new line on the same side of the river.
The original route was still able to be traced for a number of years after it closed but in about the 1970s, State Highway 2 was pushed through on the west bank and took over practically all of the rail corridor. Any that wasn’t built on was landscaped out of existence. In reality the only segment that can be distinguished is a short piece at Haywards which is part of Benmore Crescent. At the same time as the line beyond Melling closed, Melling station was relocated to be more convenient to the new Melling Bridge which was part of river straightening works that would leave the old suspension bridge high and dry.
Current Melling station site in 1939. The ballast siding can be seen to the right.
Original Melling station site seen in 1957 with the platform and building still in place.
The junction at Haywards, with aerials from 1941, 1957 and 1970.