The first railways on Fiji were 2ft 6in (762mm) gauge lines constructed for the haulage of sugar cane. The first steam locomotive operated in 1882.
Subsequent development of the system on the two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu was mainly to 2ft (610mm) gauge. At its maximum extent there were over 700km of line. By an arrangement with the government, a free passenger service operated once or twice a week on one of the major routes, but this service was withdrawn in 1973.
In the early years of the 21st century progressively more and more cane traffic was transferred from rail to road, leading to traffic congestion on inadequate roads, as well as problems of pollution and demands on foreign exchange resources to pay for imported fuel. By 2009 only some 590km of the network remained in use. Thus the government asked the Fiji Sugar Corporation, as owners and operators of the railway, to rehabilitate track and locomotives and to encourage the transport of cane by rail. Almost the whole of the original network is now again in use and carries at least half of the total sugar production.
A tourist train, recreating the free train, operates over a section of line at Sigatoka on the south coast of Viti Levu. This was for several years operated by a steam locomotive but is now usually diesel hauled.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook