The famous entrance to Flinders Street station, Australia’s busiest railway station, Melbourne, 11 April 2015.
Skitube train, Blue Cow, 12 July 2017. The Skitube is the deepest below the surface and reaches the highest altitude of any railway in Australia.
Australian Railway and Tramway Records – Part 1
3 September 2018
Records reflect a range of features of railways and tramways in Australia. Some Australian railway and tramway records are also world records. This article is the first of two parts featuring Australian railway and tramway records.
Flinders Street in Melbourne is the busiest railway station in Australia, measured by the number of passengers entering the station. In the 2013–14 financial year a total of 27,960,000 passengers used Flinders Street station. Average weekday entries were 92,090, average Saturday entries were 53,680, and average Sunday entries were 41,710. In the early 1920s Flinders Street was the world’s busiest station, with over 1500 trains and over 200,000 passengers passing through each working day.
Deepest below surface
The deepest point reached by a railway line in Australia is on the Skitube Alpine Railway in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. At its deepest point the line is 550 metres below the surface.
The Australian railway speed record of 210 km/h was set by a Queensland Rail Electric Tilt Train on 23 May 1999. It reached this speed between Meadowvale and Avondale, north of Bundaberg, on a lengthy section of straight track. The train’s speed was monitored by on-board and trackside measuring devices, and was verified by police using radar speed measuring equipment. In regular service the Tilt Trains operate at up to 160 km/h.
Furthest points reached by railways currently operating in Australia
The furthest points north, east, south and west reached by railways in Australia are:
Furthest North: Darwin, Northern Territory. The most northerly point is where the line passes through the suburb of Tivendale, near the terminus of the line. GPS Coordinates: -12.4590, 130.9466.
Furthest East: Byron Bay Railroad, New South Wales: The most easterly point is at the end of the Byron Bay Railroad Company’s line at Byron Beach railway station. GPS Coordinates: -28.641973, 153.611229.
Furthest South: Ida Bay Railway, Tasmania. The most southerly point is at the eastern terminus of the line. GPS Coordinates: -43.4550, 146.9668.
Furthest West: Geraldton, Western Australia. The most westerly point is in the West End area of the city, near Marine Terrace. GPS Coordinates: -28.7805, 114.5849.
The Skitube Alpine Railway in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales reaches the highest altitude of a railway line in Australia. It reaches its maximum height of 1893 metres above sea level at Blue Cow station.
The highest bridge carrying a railway or tramway line in Australia is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It has a height of 134 metres from the water level to the top of the arch, and is the highest steel arch bridge in the world. The bridge opened in March 1932 and crosses Sydney Harbour, carrying two railway tracks. Two tram tracks were also carried on the bridge, but they were removed in 1958 and replaced by additional road lanes.
The highest bridge carrying a railway or tramway line in Australia, measured from the waterline to the bridge deck, is the Maribyrnong River Viaduct (also known as Albion Viaduct), located on the railway line between Albion and Jacana in Melbourne. It is 54.9 m above the waterline, higher than the deck of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is 52 metres above the waterline. The Maribyrnong River Viaduct was built by the Victorian Railways between 1927 and 1929.
The largest locomotive type to have ever operated in Australia is the AD60 Class Beyer-Garratt heavy goods steam engine, which operated in regular service in New South Wales from 1952 to 1973. With a total of 32 wheels (4-8-4+4-8-4), the 60 Class had a length of 108 feet 8 inches (33.1 m) and a weight of 260 tons (264.2 tonnes) when first entering service. Modifications to 30 members of the class later took the total weight to 264.25 tons (268.5 tonnes). Four of the AD60 Class engines have been preserved: 6029, 6039, 6040 and 6042.
Largest tramway network
Melbourne has the largest operating tramway network in the world. The network has 250 kilometres of double track.
Longest passenger train journey
Great Southern Rail’s Indian Pacific makes the longest single journey by a passenger train in Australia. It travels between Sydney and Perth via Adelaide, taking around 72 hours to complete the journey, including extended stops for passengers to make off-train excursions. The total distance of the journey is 4350 km.
East Perth Terminal in Western Australia has the longest railway station platform in Australia. Its length is 762 metres.
Longest straight railway line
The longest straight section of railway line in the world is located on the Trans-Australian Railway line between Port Augusta in South Australia and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Often referred to as ‘the long straight’, it is 478 km in length and was opened in 1917. One end of the long straight is near the 797 km post (between Ooldea and Watson in South Australia) and the other end is near the 1275 km post (between Loongana and Nurina in Western Australia). The Indian Pacific passenger train traverses the long straight on its journey between Adelaide and Perth, and freight trains also travel along its length.
The world record for the longest and heaviest freight train was set on 21 June 2001 by a BHP Iron Ore train between Yandi Mine and Port Hedland in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Eight General Electric AC6000CW model diesel-electric locomotives hauled 682 wagons of iron ore. The train was 7.353 km in length and had a gross weight of 99,734 tonnes. Locomotives were arranged throughout the train into three pairs and two single units to enable traction and braking to be optimised. The train ran 275 km on the BHP Mount Newman line to Port Hedland and was under the control of a single driver. Footage of the record breaking train can be viewed on YouTube.
‘BHP breaks its own ‘heaviest train’ record’, Railway Gazette, 1 August 2001, <>.
‘BHP Iron Ore’s record breaking train’, Railway Digest, vol. 39, no. 8, August 2001, p. 6.
‘QR Tilt Train sets Australian rail speed record’, Railway Digest, vol. 37, no. 6, June 1999, p. 15.
‘Standard gauge passenger service extended to Perth’, Railway Transportation, vol. 8, no. 8, August 1969, pp. 24–6, 34.
‘World’s busiest station: Flinders Street daily record’, The Argus, 11 January 1922 p. 15.
Australian Government, Sydney Harbour Bridge <>.
Google Maps <>.
Grunbach, A, A compendium of New South Wales steam locomotives, Australian Railway Historical Society, NSW Division, Sydney, 1989.
Heritage Council Victoria, Rail bridge (Albion viaduct) <>.
Jehan, D, Rack railways of Australia, David Jehan, Albion Park, 1997.
Marshall, J. The Guinness book of rail facts and feats, 2nd edn, Guinness Superlatives, London, 1975.
Passenger activity by Metropolitan Station 2008–09 to 2013–14, Public Transport Victoria 2015.
Skitube - Alpine Railway <>.
Yarra Trams: facts and figures <>.
AD60 Class Beyer-Garratt 6029 at the head of train 9S40 running from Goulburn to Thirlmere seen passing through Tahmoor on 28 February 2015. Diesel locomotives 4403 and HL203 are on the rear of the train. The AD60 Class were the largest locomotives to ever operate in Australia.
A2 Class tram 282 and E Class tram 6018, corner of Flinders Street and Spencer Street, Melbourne, 17 January 2017. Melbourne’s tramway network is the largest in the world.