Rail transport in Tasmania

Rail transport in Tasmania

Rail transport in Tasmania consists of a network of narrow gauge track of RailGauge|42 reaching virtually all cities and major towns in the island state of Tasmania, Australia. Today, rail services are focussed primarily on bulk freight, with no commercial passenger services being operated.


The railways of Tasmania are currently operated by Pacific National, who also maintain the rollingstock. The track infrastructure is now again owned by the state government and all the track repairs are contracted out.

The main railways were operated by the Tasmanian Government Railways, which was absorbed into the Australian National Railways Commission in 1975 and renamed TasRail. In November 1997, it was sold to the Australian Transport Network Limited, a partnership of New Zealand based Tranz Rail and United States railroad Wisconsin Central. In 2003 the railway was purchased by Pacific National following the purchase of Tranz Rail by Toll Holdings, and the sale of Wisconsin Central's overseas investments as a result of that railroads takeover by Canadian National.


The Tasmanian system is small and currently carries no regular passenger services and its freight services are not profitable without government subsidies. The main cargo carried is cement, which is carried from Railton to the port at Devonport. Other major commodities carried are coal, logs, containers and newsprint.


A broad gauge (1600 mm) railway line was opened between Deloraine and Launceston on 10 February 1871"Australian Railway Routes 1854-2000" Quinlan, Howard & Newland, John R. Australian Railway Historical Society New South Wales Division ISBN 0-909650-49-7] by the private Launceston and Western Railway, on the basis of debt guarantees from landowners who stood to benefit. The line went bankrupt in 1872 and was taken over by the Tasmanian Government on 31 October, 1873, which then attempted to recover the debt from the guarantors, leading to civil unrest.cite web
work=Linking a Nation
title=Chapter 5: The Railway Age, 1874-1920
publisher=Australian Heritage Council
] On 1 March 1876, another private railway, the Tasmanian Main Line Company, which was guaranteed by the Tasmanian Government, opened a narrow gauge (1067 mm) line from Hobart to Evandale, near Launceston. A further extension, opened on 1 November, 1876, connected with the Launceston and Western Railway at a break-of-gauge at Western Junction with the line to Deloraine, however the line between Western Junction and Launceston was made dual gauge. The line between Western Junction and Deloraine was converted to dual gauge on 17 March, 1885. On 30 May, 1885, the line was extended to Devonport. The Launceston - Deloraine was converted to solely narrow gauge on 18 August 1888, creating a single narrow gauge network. On 1 October, 1890 the Tasmanian Government bought the Tasmanian Main Line Company, creating the Tasmanian Government Railways. On 15 April, 1901 the Devonport line was extended to Burnie, connecting with the Emu Bay Railway's line to Zeehan, which was completed on 21 December, 1900. The government railway was extended to Wynyard on 1 February, 1913. The line was extended to Wiltshire Junction on 12 July, 1922, connecting with the already existing line between Stanley and Smithton.

Principal Branch lines

A branch line was opened from Deloraine (Lemana Junction) to Mole Creek on 5 April, 1890. This line closed on 6 February, 1985.

A line was opened from Launceston to Scottsdale on 9 August, 1889 and extended to Branxholm on 12 July, 1911 and Herrick on 15 March, 1919.

A line was opened from Conara Junction (on the Hobart - Launceston line) to St Marys on 29 June, 1886.

A branch line was opened from Parattah toOatlands on 13 May, 1885. The line closed on 10 June, 1949.

A line was opened from Bridgewater to New Norfolk on 1 September, 1887 and was extended to Glenora on 22 July, 1888. The ultimate terminus of Derwent Valley line was Kallista which was reached on 6 July, 1936.

An isolated line was built between Bellerive and Sorell on the northern shore of the Derwent River on 2 May, 1892. It closed on 30 June, 1926.

An isolated line was built between Zeehan and Regatta Point on 4 February, 1892. The line was fully closed on 25 January, 1963.

A line was opened between Don Junction and Paloona on 10 April, 1916 and extended to Barrington on 23 September, 1923. The line was completely closed back to the junction on 16 October, 1963, but the section from Don Junction to Don Township was reopened on 20 November, 1976 by the Don River Railway [ [http://www.donriverrailway.com.au/ Don River Railway] ] .

A line was built between Launceston and Bell Bay on 17 May 1974 to access the industries established there, including shipping. Included in the Federal Government's AusLink initiative [ [http://www.auslink.gov.au/whatis/network/corridors/AusLink_Corridors.aspx| AusLink Network Corridors] ] is the proposal that this line be converted to standard gauge to facilitate the transfer of mainland railway wagons direct to Bell Bay and Launceston, however no further action has been forcoming to date.

The former Emu Bay Railway

"See also Railways on the West Coast of Tasmania"

The earlier lines of the West Coast, Tasmania were independent of the main Tasmanian Railway system when built, but most connected to the Emu Bay Railway. The North Mount Lyell Railway and a few other smaller lines were not connected to the Emu Bay line.

The Emu Bay Railway was purchased by Australian Transport Network on 22 May, 1998 thus merging that line with the remainder of the system that company then operated.


ee also

* Tasmanian Government Railways
* TasRail

External links

* [http://www.railtasmania.com| Rail Tasmania]

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