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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Rimutaka Derailment

In view of the many stories about high winds in the Wellington and Wairarapa districts, it is not surprising that there has been one fatal accident on the famous incline over the Rimutaka Range. On the morning of 11 September 1880 a small train left Greytown for Wellington. In order to negotiate the incline the locomotive was placed in the centre of the train, pushing two carriages and a van, and hauling two wagons of timber and a Fell van. Owing to rain and a heavy wind, progress up the incline was unusually slow and, as the train reached the sharp curve before “Siberia” tunnel, the two carriages and the van were blown off the line. Although the couplings held and the weight of the engine prevented the carriages and van from rolling into the valley below, the body of the first carriage was torn from its mounting and the passengers were thrown on to the hillside. Three children were killed and 11 adults injured in this, the only fatal accident to a passenger train on the incline. There is no foundation for the legend that a complete passenger train was blown off the incline and came to rest in the valley below “Siberia” corner.