The new incarnation, billed as the largest investment in a tourist attraction in Blue Mountains history, will have a fresh rail track and new Swiss-designed carriages. The train, one of Scenic World’s key attractions, will be the fifth to operate since 1945 on the former coal mine track. New top and bottom platforms will be built as well.
The existing scenic rail train continues to operate, having carried more than 25 million passengers safely to and from the ancient Jamison Valley floor. The new railway experience is scheduled to open in December 2012.
Scenic World has operated since 1945. The entrepreneurial vision of founder Harry Hammon transformed an abandoned coal mine into a tourist attraction. The Hammon family’s purchase of a lease on Katoomba Colliery gave birth to an international tourism experience, now visited by almost one million customers a year.
Meanwhile, a far less successful New South Wales railway, Sydney’s downtown monorail system, has come to the end of the line with just one year to run. NSW Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian has named the date on which the monorail, sometimes derided as the ‘monster-rail’, will cease operating: Sunday 30 June 2013.
Decommissioning the monorail will allow NSW to push ahead with the much needed expansion and redevelopment of the Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct.
Berejiklian said the existing monorail infrastructure and rolling stock would be “taken to market”.
“The market will determine if the track and rolling stock will be demolished for scrap, or removed and re-used.”
Sydney’s monorail opened in 1988 during Australia’s bicentenary celebrations. It was highly controversial from the outset, with critics deriding it as an eyesore. Many people doubted it would ever achieve its aim of becoming an efficient people-mover and said ticket prices were too high.
Those critics have been proved right – and the politicians who backed the monorail (most of whom have now retired) have been proved wrong.
The monorail just might move to Tasmania. Hobart’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Ron Christie, wants his council to make an offer. He says if the monorail were dropped to ground level it could become an ideal commuter-tourism option taking in a City-Salamanca-North Hobart loop.
Perhaps NSW should give it to Tasmania free.
Written by : Peter Needham