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Rail Travel in Australia 19 November 2013

When it comes to trains, Australia is pretty unusual. Each state has it's own separate rail service that operates independently of the other state rail services. There are also numerous private companies that operate scheduled rail services, including an American company (Great Southern Rail) that runs the two most splendid trips you can do (the "Indian-Pacific" from Perth to Sydney via Adelaide and "The Ghan" from Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs).

Not only that, each state has a different gauge as well! Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland mainly use "Cape" gauge tracks (1067 mm), Victoria is wide gauge (1600 mm) and the Northern Territory, New South Wales, ACT and the trans-continental lines (North-South and East-West) use standard gauge (1435 mm). South Australia has a combination of all of these. Often two different state rail operators run trains between the same cities, with different gauge tracks right next to each other, starting and ending at different platforms at the same stations! Tickets for one are not valid on the other. For example, this happens between Melbourne and Sydney and between Sydney and Brisbane.

Having said that, travelling by train through Australia is a fabulous experience, and beats taking the bus hands down. I spent six weeks in Australia in 2001, riding the rails from Perth all the way across to Sydney via Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra, then up to Brisbane and Cairns. The ride from Cairns to Kuranda in Queensland on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is simply breathtaking.

For comprehensive details of travelling by train in Australia, I recommend the book "Australia by Rail" (ISBN 9781873756812), written by Colin Taylor and published by Trailblazer Publications in May 2005.

Western Australia
-> New MetroRail
-> TransPerth (Perth city services)
-> TransWA (state-wide services)
-> Public Transport Authority (government of WA)
-> Bennett Brook Railway (near Perth)
-> Hotham Valley Railway
-> Pemberton Tramway (Pemberton)
-> Trains in Perth and WA (photos and information)

South Australia
-> TransAdelaide (Adelaide commuter services)
-> Adelaide Metro
-> Pichi Richi Railway (Quorn)

-> V-Line (state rail authority)
-> MetLink (state-wide public transport)
-> West Coast Railway (Melbourne-Warrnambool)
-> Bellarine Peninsula (Queenscliff)
-> South Gippsland Railway (Korumburra)
-> Daylesford Spa Country Railway (Daylesford)
-> Walhalla Goldfields Railway (Walhalla)
-> Seymour Railway Heritage Centre (Seymour)
-> The Stringybark Express (near Albury-Wodonga)
-> Australia's First Railway (Goolwa-Port Elliot)
-> SteamRail Victoria (rail enthusiast tours)
-> Association of Tourist Railways (ATR)

New South Wales (and ACT)
-> State Rail Authority of NSW
-> CountryLink (inter-city trains)
-> CityRail (commuter trains around Sydney)
-> Zig Zag Railway (in the Blue Mountains near Lithgow)
-> Glenreagh Mountain Railway (Glenreagh)
-> Richmond Kurrajong Railway (Kurrajong)

-> QR TravelTrain

Northern Territory
-> Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin Railway

-> Rail Tasmania

-> Great Southern Rail (Perth-Adelaide-Sydney and Darwin-Alice Springs-Adelaide-Melbourne)
-> Great South Pacific Express (ultra luxury trips between Sydney and Cairns)
-> Ozback Explorer (Sydney-Melbourne-Alice Springs-Darwin)

General information
-> (Australia Rail Page)
-> (Private site)
-> (The Man in Seat 61)
-> (RailServe)
-> (National Railway Museum, Adelaide)
-> (Australian Railway Historical Society)
-> (Transit Australia)
-> (Trams and Subways in Australia)

Rail Freight
-> National Rail
-> Pacific National

Australian Rail DVDs
-> Australian Live Steam (by Dick Collingridge)

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