An intermodal train leaves Perth heading for Melbourne across
the Great Victoria Desert and the Nullarbor Plain.
The passenger car provides crew support on the long isolated journey.
minor railways in Australia are covered in detail on a separate
The first railway in Australia opened in 1854 between Melbourne
City Terminus (later Flinders Street station) and Sandridge (present
day Port Melbourne), a distance of about 2½ miles (4 km). It was
built to 5ft 3in (1600mm) gauge, following Irish precedents.
The following year a standard (1435mm) gauge line opened between
Sydney and Parramatta in New South Wales. Subsequent railway
development took place with little consideration of eventual
interconnection. Broadly speaking, Victoria used 5ft 3in gauge,
New South Wales standard gauge, while the remaining states opted
for the lighter and more economical 3ft 6in (1067mm) gauge,
but there were exceptions. When the famous Transcontinental Railway
first opened in 1917, no fewer than 8 changes of gauge were required
for a journey from Brisbane to Perth.
Most modern development has been to standard gauge, and many of
the older lines have been regauged to this. The original line to
Port Melbourne ceased to be part of the rail network in the 1980s
and was regauged to form part of the Melbourne tram network.
A noteworthy opening of the 21st century is the Ghan line
connecting Adelaide and Darwin. This is an entirely new standard
gauge railway; however, its southern section replaced an existing
3ft 6in (1067mm) gauge line which ran as far as Alice Springs
in the very heart of the country, while its northern section
followed in part the route of another narrow gauge railway from
Darwin to Birdum, closed since the 1970s. Plans to connect the two
narrow gauge railways dating from the early 20th century never
materialized. Passenger trains first reached Darwin on the new Ghan
line in 2004.
Main line and suburban railways
- Queensland Rail
passenger operator in Queensland, and infrastructure authority for
passenger operator in Victoria
TrainLink regional and long distance passenger services in New
Trains local passnger services in the Sydney area
long distance passenger services in Western Australia
- Transperth local passenger services in the Perth
Trains Melbourne local passenger services in the Melbourne area
independent freight operator, with some leased lines of its own.
Rail independent freight operator conveying coal from the
Carmichael Mine to the export terminal near Bowen.
- I.Rail independent freight operator.
- Linfox independent freight operator.
National independent freight operator.
Trans Australia independent freight operator.
- Qube Logistics independent freight operator.
Logistics independent freight operator.
- Southern Shorthaul Railroad independent freight
- Watco Australia East independent freight operator
- Watco Australia West independent freight operator
in Western Australia.
infrastructure authority for New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia
and Western Australia east of Kalgoorlie. Also manages access rights
for Brookfield Rail and Queensland Rail.
Infrastructure infrastructure authority for Western Australia
west of Kalgoorlie
freight operator and infrastructure authority in Tasmania
Industrial and dedicated freight railways
has a private rail network at its Namoi Flour Mill in Gunnedah, connecting
with the ARTC network (Website contains no details relating to
- Pilbara Region several independent long
distance heavy haul railways operate in the Pilbara region of Western
Australia serving the iron ore mining industry.
- Whitehaven Coal is constructing a new 16km standard
gauge line connecting its proposed mines at Maules Creek with the main
line leading to the port of Newcastle (Website contains no
details relating to railway)
Urban trains and trams
Tourist services and minor railways
See separate page