top of page
Anchor 1

Beyer Peacock works photograph of K1, the world's very first Garratt steam locomotive, built for the North East Dundas Tramway in Tasmania, 1909. This engine is now preserved at the Welsh Highland Railway. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

WC 197.jpg
WC 198.jpg

The convict railway from Port Arthur to Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania. Photo: National Library of Australia, PIC P838 LOC Drawer Q43-E.W. Searle collection of photographs.

Major Events in Tasmanian Railway and Tramway History

David Matheson

30 June 2019


Convict-powered railway built across Tasman Peninsula. A single carriage was pushed by four convicts along a track of around five miles (8 km) in length.

10 February 1871

First steam-powered railway opened in Tasmania, a broad gauge line between Launceston and Deloraine. The line was built and initially operated by the Launceston and Western Railway Company, but was taken over by the Tasmanian Government in 1873.

1 November 1876

Railway opened between Evandale and Western Junction, completing the line between Hobart and Launceston. The line was built and operated by the Tasmanian Main Line Railway Company until taken over by the Tasmanian Government in 1890.


First C Class 2-6-0 locomotive entered service with Tasmanian Government Railways. Built by Beyer, Peacock & Company, a total of 28 entered service, making them Tasmania’s most numerous class of steam locomotive. The same type of locomotive entered service as the Y Class of the South Australian Railways in 1885, the Y Class of the Silverton Tramway Company in 1888, the G Class of Western Australian Government Railways in 1888, and the NFC Class of the Commonwealth Railways in 1942.


1 October 1890

Tasmanian Government Railways took over operations of the Tasmanian Main Line Railway Company between Hobart and Launceston.


21 September 1893

First electric tam operated in Hobart, the first completely electric tramway system in Australia. It was privately operated until being taken over by Hobart City Council in 1913.


18 March 1897

Railway opened between Queenstown and Teepookana, including 4.5 miles (7.2 km) of rack railway to assist trains over 1 in 16 and 1 in 20 gradients.


21 December 1900

Railway opened between Guildford Junction and Rayna Junction, completing the line between Burnie and Zeehan, operated by the Emu Bay Railway. The Emu Bay Railway operated until 1998, when it was integrated into the AN Tasrail network.


15 April 1901

Railway opened between Ulverstone and Burnie, completing the line between Hobart, Launceston and Burnie. The completion of this line made possible a train journey between Hobart and Queenstown via Western Junction (near Launceston), Burnie and Strahan.


12 January 1910

K Class 0-4-0+0-4-0 locomotive, the world’s first Garratt type locomotive, had its first trial run before entering service on the 610 mm gauge North East Dundas Tramway between Zeehan and Williamsford in Tasmania. This locomotive is now preserved in Wales by the West Highland Railway Society.


15 February 1916

Worst railway accident in Tasmania killed seven people after an express train derailed on a horseshoe bend near Campania.



First Q Class 4-8-2 locomotive entered service. A total of 19 members of the Q Class entered service over 22 years until 1944. The Q Class locomotives provided heavy freight service until the 1960s.


September 1943

First Australian Standard Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4 locomotive entered service. These locomotives were ordered by the Commonwealth Land Transport Board, which had been established to take responsibility for Australia’s land transport during the Second World War. A total of 57 of the Australian Standard Garratts operated on narrow gauge lines with Queensland Railways, Western Australian Government Railways, South Australian Railways, Tasmanian Government Railways, the Emu Bay Railway in Tasmania, and the Fyansford Cement Works Railway in Victoria.


13 September 1950

First X Class Bo-Bo diesel-electric locomotives, X1 and X2, the first mainline diesel locomotives in Australia, entered service with Tasmanian Government Railways. A total of 32 members of the X Class were operational by the end of 1952. Their 600 horsepower (447 kW) has been far surpassed by modern diesel locomotives.


6 October 1952

M Class 4-6-2 locomotive M7 became the last steam locomotive to enter service in Tasmania. Tasmanian Government Railways was the first government railway in Australia to see its last steam locomotive enter service.


21 October 1960

Hobart tramway system closed. Single-deck bogie saloon tram 128 operated the last service from the city to Moonah Depot. Tram 130 was decorated for a ceremonial run to Springfield (West Moonah) on 24 October.


10 August 1963

Railway between Queenstown and Regatta Point (near Strahan) closed.


3 September 1975

Last regular steam-hauled train in government service operated in Australia. Tasmanian Government Railways H Class 4-8-2 locomotive H2 worked a ballast train from Launceston to Relbia. Following this time steam locomotives were occasionally used in workshops in Victoria and New South Wales.


1 March 1978

AN Tasrail established as a subsidiary of Australian National Railways, taking over services of the former Tasmanian Government Railways.


28 July 1978

Last regular passenger train in Tasmania operated from Wynyard to Hobart.


15 November 1997

Australian Transport Network took over railway operations in Tasmania from Australian National.


3 April 2003

Official re-opening of the railway between Queenstown and Regatta Point (near Strahan) for heritage train services. The line was originally completed between Queenstown and Regatta Point in 1899 and closed in 1963. Three of the original Abt locomotives that worked on the line were restored to working order and operate services on the line.


1 December 2009

TasRail began operations with the return of the Tasmanian railway system to government ownership. The railway network in Tasmania had previously been owned by the Tasmanian Government until 1978 when it became part of the Federal Government’s Australian National Railways. In 1997 the network became part of the Australian Transport Network, before being sold to Pacific National in 2004.


22 June 2014

Intermodal freight services terminal moved from Hobart to Brighton Hub (around 25 km north of the city), leading to closure of the Hobart–Bridgewater Junction railway line. The closure of this line resulted in the cessation of railway services that had operated to and from Hobart since 1876.

WC 200.jpg

Double deck tram no. 11 in Elizabeth St, Hobart, looking down Melville St, about 1920. Photo: Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, NS1013-1-513, Wikimedia Commons.

WC 204.jpg

B class locomotive at Macquarie Plains. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Ted Lidster collection.



bottom of page