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A bit of a history on Queensland and its railways Australia with Queensland Highlighted

Queensland (highlighted in red on the Australian map shown), is often referred to as Australia's "Sunshine State", is Australia's second largest state and takes up the whole North-Eastern quarter of the Australian continent. With half the state North of the Tropic of Capricorn, summers are usually very hot, wet and humid along the coast. However, inland to the West of the Great Dividing Range the extensive and arid interior can see many years pass between rainfalls!

With over 7,400 km of coast line and an area of 1,722,000 km2 Queensland is vast! Being the most decentralised of the Australian states it has a relatively small population of just over 5.2 million people. Half this population is scattered, mainly along the East coast, in many small towns and cities of various sizes with the other half living in the South-East corner of the state where the capital city of Queensland, Brisbane (population just over 2.7 million), is located. It was just to the South-West of Brisbane in the industrial city of Ipswich, once known for its, coal mines, woollen mills and extensive railway workshops, that the story of Queensland's Railways began.

It was from Ipswich, on the 31st July 1865, that Queensland's first railway line was completed to Bigges Camp, now known as Grandchester, a still tiny township a mere 38km to the west of Ipswich. Within two years, the line had been extended further west, up The Great Dividing Range to Toowoomba, capital of the rich Darling Downs agricultural region.

Once ridiculed for running 3ft 6inch (1067mm) narrow gauge line, by its neighbouring states to the south running standard and broad gauge line, Queensland's rail network is presently, by far, the largest rail network in Australia! In fact Queensland Railways was the first operator in the world to adopt narrow gauge (3ft 6inch (1067mm)) for a main line and it remains the system wide gauge within Queensland today.

According to Queensland Rail's 2020/2021 Annual Report Queensland's network of in use track throughout Queensland (not including cane or light rail networks) consisted of 6,600kms of track. Six different rail companies currently operate on the network.


Rail companies that now operate within Queensland's rail network

  • Queensland Rail, a Queensland Goverment owned organisation runs all long distance passenger services within Queensland as well as the Brisbane suburban network.

  • Aurizon, Queensland's biggest freight hauler and Australia's biggest coal hauler, formally the Queensland Governement owned company QR National is now a publicly listed company that specialises in intermodal and bulk freight haulage. Coal is it biggest revenue source but they also run grain trains in season and the as mentioned general freight.

  • Pacific National run coal trains in central Queensland and intermodal freight between Brisbane and Cairns.

  • Watco Australia (a division of Watco based in Pittsburg USA) has its Queensland base in Warwick, Queensland. Watco specialises in bulk grain and livestock haulage throughout Queensland.

  • Bowen Rail hauls coal from the Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin to the Port of Abbot Point coal export terminal around 25kms north of Bowen, north Queensland.

  • QUBE Logistics in Queensland hauls metals and minerals from Mount Isa to the Port of Towsville, a distance of some 1000kms.


Also note that whilst most heritage rail groups in Queensland have their own infrastructure and run on their own track, there are groups that run regularly on the Queensland network either as part of their normal operations or as special chartered events.


Links to the site of any of these organisations may be found on the 'Links' page of this site.


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This page Copyright Colin B Power 2022.
Queensland. Australia.

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