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Railways in

Australia

Tourist and minor railways in Australia are covered in detail on a separate page

The first railway in Australia opened in 1855 between Sydney and Parramatta, a distance of 14 miles (22.5km). It was built to standard gauge (1435mm), as were most subsequent railways in New South Wales. However, because of the nature of Australia at that time, with isolated communities along the coast seeing little need of communication between them, standardization throughout the nation was not seen as essential and a variety of gauges sprang up elsewhere. 3ft 6in (1067mm) was quite commonly used, while the state of Victoria opted for a gauge of 5ft 3in (1600mm). 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. A noteworthy opening of the 21st century is the Ghan line connecting Adelaide and Darwin. This is essentially an entirely new line, although much of its southern section follows the route of a former 3ft 6in (1067mm) gauge line which ran as far as Alice Springs in the very heart of the country. Passenger trains first reached Darwin from the south in 2004.

Main line and suburban railways

Industrial and dedicated freight railways

Urban trains and trams

Tourist services and minor railways

See separate page

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