Wairarapa Line [7A]: Rimutaka Incline Section [1A]: Upper Hutt-Mangaroa

So here are first draft maps for Upper Hutt to Mangaroa. There are a few things to add and fix up before eventually releasing them.

Upper Hutt station has changed a lot in 70 years. The turntable is long gone, the King St level crossing closed many years ago and the yard tracks rather than being for freight operations are now used to store electric units for the Metlink passenger services. The old line over the Rimutakas started on a 1 in 35 gradient east of Upper Hutt and in the right hand of this map would have already been on that grade. Latterly there was a sawmill east of the old level crossing and sidings did serve these premises but the area has recently been redeveloped further.

Here we see the obvious disparity in height between the old and new routes. This is harder to appreciate today because the old embankment from Upper Hutt station appears to have been planted over with scrub and possibly lowered in the public reserve, and cut through at Park Street where an underpass was built many years ago. Just when King St crossing closed in favour of Park St underpass is not very clear, but some time between 1965 and 1984. There was certainly no railway bridge over Park St when the deviation was put through.

There was enough height difference when the two lines crossed over each other just outside Upper Hutt for a bridge to be required on the old line. This bridge was only in place for the last three or so years of the deviation works even though the entire project had begun in 1948 and the earthworks further east were well under way by 1951. The cutting for the new line was not fully lowered until after the old line had been closed (there was a three day cutover period) and the bridge removed. The embankment at the bottom of the picture was bulldozed some years ago when the area was subdivided for housing.

Some of the prominent curves, cuttings and embankments east of Upper Hutt. Much of this remains undisturbed today.

About 1 mile or 1.6 km east of Upper Hutt was the line’s first tunnel, known during the construction era as Cruickshank’s. This tunnel was around 220 metres long. The tunnel still exists today and Upper Hutt Council has constructed an access track to it which can be accessed from Cruickshank Road in Upper Hutt.

There is no ready access to the railway route between the tunnel and Mangaroa station because of the demolition of the bridge over the Mangaroa River and redevelopment of the area in lifestyle blocks.

There was another bridge at Cooleys Stream just outside Mangaroa Station. This station was not built when the railway originally opened in 1880, but came into existence several years later.

Mangaroa was a small country station for the first 50 years or so of its existence. However during the Second World War, the Government decided to establish military bases at dispersed locations outside the major population centres. Hence there was an RNZAF stores base built there with sidings. The buildings still exist today and it was not until some years after the war that the site was closed. There was also in an earlier era a bush tramway along the line of the side road next to the base.

There was also an army base built at Mangaroa during WW2. It’s not clear at this stage whether this also had its own railway siding or whether they used the Mangaroa yard or air force sidings. The site is now under private ownership but the perimeter road still exists today. During the First World War there was an army camp further east of Mangaroa and this location will be shown on the next series of maps covering from Mangaroa to Kaitoke.