South Australian Railways collection



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The South Australian Railways Collection consists of 30 rolling stock and over 130 objects relating to the transport of people and freight by train in South Australia between 1886-1978.

The rolling stock includes steam and diesel locomotives, carriages and state cars. Other items include timetables, souvenir programs, rule books, rates for movement of merchandise and livestock, clocks, badges, signs, seals, and furniture and dining ware from the state cars.

South Australia had the first railway network in the British Empire to be government owned and run. South Australian Railways built and operated most of the railway system throughout the state, which grew rapidly from 1856 when South Australia’s first steam railway connected Adelaide and Port Adelaide. Many railways underpinned economic development in the state, including small lines operating to regional ports for the movement of ore and grain.

At its peak in the 1960s South Australian Railways had over 6000 kilometres of line open for use. Annually, passenger journeys numbered over 22 million and over 4 million tons of goods and livestock were conveyed. An increase in freight and a decline in passenger journeys to 12 million by the mid-1970s signalled a shift in rail transport for South Australia.

In 1975, the State Transport Authority of South Australia took over Adelaide’s suburban rail lines. In 1978 the need for a nation-wide standard gauge network (South Australia’s rail network operated on three different gauge lines: narrow, standard and broad) saw the state-based lines of the South Australian and Commonwealth Railways amalgamated into the Australian National Railway Commission.

A History SA collection.

Some of the rolling stock is on loan to, and display at, the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide. Access to all other collection items held by History SA is by appointment only.


History SA, South Australia

Locomotive engines; Locomotives; Railway carriages; Railway cars; Railway ephemera; Railway equipment; Railway fare tables; Railway signs; Railway tickets; Railway timetables; Trains

Railway equipment; Railways; Transport

Coverage Spatial

Adelaide; South Australia

Coverage Temporal




2012-05-30 23:43

2011-05-02 15:00