Bethungra Spiral

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Bethungra Spiral
Tracks diverging at the start of the spiral
Opened 1946

The Bethungra Spiral is a rail spiral, built on the Main South line of New South Wales in Australia at Bethungra between Cootamundra and Junee.[1][2] It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.[3]

The original line was graded at 1 in 40 for Sydney bound trains, which imposed a severe limitation on train loads, and also caused congestion as bank engines were attached.[4]

When the line was duplicated in the 1940s, an 8.9 kilometre spiral deviation was built. The spiral makes use of local geography in the shape of a convenient hill which the uphill line spirals around and has short tunnels. The spiral increased the distance traveled by uphill (northbound) trains by about two kilometres. Downhill (southbound) trains continue to use the original line. The ruling gradient of the new uphill line is 1 in 66.[4][5][6]

Due to the extensive blasting required to create 27 metre cuttings through granite, the line suffered from rockfalls with twelve significant falls between 1960 and 1987. In January 1994, the spiral line closed for a four-month rebuild which saw the cuttings widened and regraded to benched 55 degree slopes as part of the One Nation project.[4][7]

Heritage listing[edit]

The Bethungra Spiral is of high significance illustrating a means of ascending a significant mountain range with easier grades than the original (now down the main line). It is a major civil work and an ingenious engineering solution using the technology available at the time of construction. The site has major landscape value.[3]

Bethungra Spiral was listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999 having satisfied the following criteria.[3]

The place possesses uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of the cultural or natural history of New South Wales.

This item is assessed as historically rare. This item is assessed as scientifically rare. This item is assessed as arch. rare.[3]


  1. ^ Bethungra Spiral
  2. ^ Bethungra - Frampton SA Track & Signal
  3. ^ a b c d "Bethungra Spiral, New South Wales State Heritage Register (NSW SHR) Number H01026". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 2 June 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c "The Bethungra Spiral Rectification Project" Railway Digest June 1994 pages 12-15
  5. ^ "Doubling, Deviation & New Construction Works" Railway Gazette 18 July 1941 page 54
  6. ^ "Main-Line Deviation in Australia" Railway Gazette 14 January 1949 pages 42-45
  7. ^ "Bethungra Spiral". Railway Digest. May 2014. p. 39. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Bethungra Spiral at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 34°45′S 147°53′E / 34.75°S 147.88°E / -34.75; 147.88