Katoomba Scenic Railway
Blue Mountains, Australia
Virtual Ride and Technical Details
3 Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia.
All aboard the world's steepest railway
for a virtual plunge into the Jamison Valley!


Whilst you wait for the Scenic Railway ride to download, 
          you may be wondering how safe it is...

By the time you read this, the ride will probably have finished downloading.

The Scenic Railway's winch or winder has four main parts:

  1. The main drum on winch are wound the twin ropes that are attached to the Scenic Railway train.
  2. The counterweight drum which winds the rope that is attached to the six-tonne aerial counterweight.
  3. The David Brown gearbox.
  4. Reliance Electric DC 15Okw motor.

There is also a 150 kw standby slip ring electric motor connected to a common input shaft on the gearbox.


The main drum is 2.5m in diameter and is grooved to guide the rope to wind on to the drum perfectly. The ropes are 28mm in diameter and when tested broke at 57 tonnes. The ropes are 480m long. One rope is right hand lay and the other left hand lay. This means that the strands of the rope are laid in a clockwise direction for the other. This system is used because the ropes are wound on to the drum from the outside into the centre in order to keep the stresses on the shaft symmetrical, and the natural twist of the ropes helps the ropes to wrap on to the drum correctly.

The counterweight drum is 2.4m in diameter and also is grooved. Its rope is 24mm in diameter and when tested broke at 43.6 tonnes. This rope is 597m long.


Both drums are equipped with 3m diameter discs which are braked by Hagglund disc callipers. Each of these callipers is capable of stopping the winch fully loaded on the steepest grade all by itself, and there are four of them on two different brake circuits.

The brakes are controlled by a separate Toshiba computerised processor. This unit is battery powered so that in the event of a power failure it can still control the emergency stopping of the winch by providing different rates of deceleration depending on whether the train is going up or down, and where it is on the incline.

This system is again backed up by a mechanically tripped braking circuit controlled by the Logan Lily controller which will trip under certain conditions of overspeed or overwind. If the winder approaches or leaves either end too quickly, overspeeds anywhere in between, or travels too far at either end, the first circuit of brakes are applied. If these brakes don't work then the second "back up" braking circuit is used. These may be a bit more savage in their application but it will absolutely stop the winder.

The drums, shafts and brake discs were made in Sydney by Australian Winch and Haulage P/L and the assembly, which weighs 19 tonnes, was lowered into place on the foundations by a 90 tonne capacity crane. The foundations contain 50 cubic metres of concrete.


The DC drive motor is driven from a motor generator set via an "Automax" computerised processor. The winder is fully automatic and is controlled from the train by radio codes.

The winder can also be controlled from the control desk behind the winder. From here the three TV cameras that monitor the platforms and the incline can be operated.

The auxiliary emergency drive equipment is also controlled from this desk. It can recover the train from anywhere on the incline in the event of a failure in the main drive.

The winch was commissioned on Saturday, 24th July, 1993, at a final cost of $2,000,000.

The winder operates the train at a speed of 4 metres per second which is slightly faster than the winch it replaced at 3.8 metres per second. However, because of the longer loading times involved with the three carriages, the return trip time has actually become longer, from six minutes to seven minutes. The Scenic Railway's theoretical passenger capacity is now 720 per hour.


The ropes are expected to have a working life of 50,000 trips which should take approximately three years. They are tested every year with a special non-destructive magnetic testing machine which can detect any broken or corroded wires. The entire drive system for the Scenic Railway can he driven by our 500KVA Caterpillar 3412 diesel generating plant.

Source: Blue Mountains Tourist Newspaper 


Click these buttons for a "virtual reality" ride on the
Katoomba Scenic Railway. There will be a delay whilst your computer downloads the pictures - read the technical details whilst you wait.

Passing through the tunnel, the Scenic Railway reaches the spine-chilling angle of 52 degrees. In real-life, the tram takes about 1 minutes to descend 178 metres (587 feet) into the Jamison Valley, covering a total distance of 415m (1360') at a speed of 4 metres/second

The virtual ride is being periodically upgraded, so bookmark this site & call back again.

Scenic Railway Home Page  

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Virtual reality ride, Katoomba Scenic Railway, Blue Mountains, Australia

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