The Last Passenger Train

Tasmania’s narrow-gauge rail network evolved haphazardly over the past 140 or so years, initially through a number of private concerns, before being taken over by the state at the beginning of the 20th century. Most traffic was freight, principally minerals, livestock and agricultural produce, but a few passenger services existed; the best-known one of these was the Tasman Limited, which ran six days a week from Hobart to Launceston, Devonport and Wynyard. Here’s a quaint government promotional film circa 1955:

Unfortunately, this period coincided with the rise of private motor vehicle ownership in Tasmania, and the sealing of the state’s largely gravel-surfaced, so-called “highway” system. With a population at the time of only 300,000, and a land area the size of 68,000 km2 (the area of the Republic of Ireland or West Virginia), demand proved insufficient to sustain the service, which ran for the last time on 28th July, 1978. Some reports from the time:

There are still a few intermittent tourist trains operating in Tasmania; if you’re ever visiting I highly recommend the West Coast Wilderness Railway, which is steam-hauled with a rack-and-pinion system and runs through some of the steepest and most spectacular rainforest terrain anywhere in the world:

One Response to The Last Passenger Train

  1. Ozboy says:

    Some lovely pics in this clip, plus one of the best Dylan covers you’ll hear.

    One seriously picturesque train ride.

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