minor railways in Australia are covered in detail on a separate
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
- 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.
- Genesee & Wyoming Australia independent
freight operator, with its own leased lines including the Ghan line from
Tarcoola to Darwin and several lines in the Adelaide area.
- I.Rail 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 Queensland independent freight
operator (When last checked, website contained
no details of Queensland operation)
- Watco Western Australia independent freight
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
Flag of Autralia image from Wikipedia