The Overland at Southern Cross station in February 2009
|Service type||Passenger train|
|First service||19 January 1887|
|Current operator(s)||Great Southern Rail|
|Distance travelled||828 kilometres|
|Average journey time||10 hours 30 minutes|
|Service frequency||2 × per week in each direction|
The Overland is an Australian passenger train operating between Melbourne and Adelaide. It first ran in 1887 as the Adelaide Express, but South Australians have always referred to the train as the Melbourne Express. It was given its current name in 1926. Now operated by private company Great Southern Rail, the train completes two return trips a week covering 828 kilometres between the state capitals. Originally an overnight train, it now operates during the day.
The Overland originated as the Intercolonial Express when the Victorian Railways' Western line was extended to join the South Australian Railways line at Serviceton on the state border. As both railways were 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) broad gauge, a through service commenced on 19 January 1887 using jointly owned rolling stock. The train was later called the Adelaide Express.
The train ran overnight with opulent Mann Boudoir sleeping cars. From 1907, new E type side corridor sitting and sleeping cars of Victorian Railways design were introduced. More cars of these designs were added until 1923, and in 1928 two all-steel sleeping cars and a dining car were imported from Pullman in the USA, these being the heaviest carriages ever used in Australia.
A dining car was included between Melbourne and Ararat from 1927, and between Adelaide and Serviceton from 1928, but with the onset of the Depression in 1930 these services were withdrawn until the mid-1930s, and finally ceased after the outbreak of World War II. The South Australian Railways purchased "Mountain" and "Pacific" type locomotives to haul the heavier train in South Australia. These were the largest locomotives in Australia at that time. In 1926 the train was renamed The Overland, and the original deep red livery was replaced by green and yellow with black horizontal lining. The SAR streamlined some of its 500 class locomotives for the makeover.
In 1941 Victorian steam locomotive H220 was introduced to service, intended to haul the train but never entered regular service due to weight restrictions. For over 40 years Victorian Railways used A2 class locomotives, usually in pairs.
From 1949 the train moved into the modern era, with new air-conditioned Corten steel carriages gradually entering service, in maroon with a fluted stainless steel panel on each side and a black roof. This livery remained until the 1990s.
The sleeping cars were of two types. Twinette cars had two-berth compartments (as had the E and Mann cars before them), but each compartment had an adjoining toilet and shower room; roomette cars had single-berth compartments either side of a central aisle, and a shower room at the end of the car.
The new sleepers were probably the first general application of showers on trains in the world. Diesel locomotives took over in the 1950s, initially the South Australian 900 class and Victorian B class but later the 930, S, X and N class locomotives.
The maroon sleeping cars from 1949 onwards were 16 in number, later 18, and were given Aboriginal names that were painted on the sides of the cars. The eight roomette cars were Allambi, Chalaki, Juki, Mururi, Nankuri, Purpawi, Tantini, and Tarkinji; the ten twinette cars Dorai, Kuldalai, Malkari, Mokai, Nomuldi, Paiti, Tawarri, Weroni, Yankai, and Yanni.
In 1971, roomette cars Allambi and Tantini and twinette cars Dorai and Weroni were sold to the Victorian Railways for use on the Vinelander to Mildura, and replaced with new carriages. They were repainted dark blue and their names removed; these names were then applied to the same type of new cars built to replace them.
The interiors of these new cars were of a more modern design than the older cars. The roomette cars had a zigzag corridor instead of a straight one, and the compartments had the shape of a trapezium. This enabled the use of the toilet and washbasin units while the bed was still down, not possible in the older roomettes.
Twinette cars Tawarri and Yankai were added in 1967, and these also followed the newer style of interior. Thus from the early 1970s onwards in the newer style there were two roomette cars, Allambi and Tantini, four twinette cars, Dorai, Tawarri, Weroni, and Yankai.
In 1975, Australian National took over the South Australian Railways, and became joint operator of the train with the Victorian Railways. A motorail service was added to the train from November 1979.
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From 1994, the train was operated solely by Australian National. At this time the Melbourne to Adelaide line was converted to standard gauge, and a new route via Maroona and Geelong introduced. The final broad gauge services ran on 1 March 1995. Australian National began operating their CLP class locomotives.
On 1 November 1997, Australian National was sold, and the rolling stock (but not the locomotives) passed to Great Southern Rail, which contracted National Rail to haul the services with NR class locomotives. On occasions, BL and 93 class locomotives have hauled the service.
On 25 July 1998, the service was reduced to operating five times per week in each direction with the Wednesday and Saturday night journeys in each direction cancelled.
In May 1999, a new timetable was introduced with stops at Stawell, Murtoa, Nhill, Kaniva, Wolseley, Tintinara, Coonalpyn and Tailem Bend removed. In 1999, the maroon and silver livery was removed and the train was repainted in a new grey and silver scheme, with a new kookaburra logo graphic.
In May 2007, the service was relaunched. It was retimetabled to operate as a daylight service and the carriages overhauled with a new blue, purple and green livery applied and the interiors renewed. A new emu logo was also unveiled. The motorail service was withdrawn in the early 2000s when the dock at the Melbourne end was removed as part of the Southern Cross station redevelopment. It was restored in February 2009.
From 26 August 2008, 12 seats per train were made available to passengers within Victoria at V/Line fares. In October 2010, it was announced that the train would stop at Stawell. At the same time the number of seats available on V/Line fares was increased to 64 per trainl. In August 2013, the three-times weekly service was reduced to twice-weekly.
- The Overland Great Southern Rail
- An Introduction to the Overland Story Rowland, E.C. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin January 1977 pp1-16
- Callaghan, WH (1992). The Overland Railway. Sydney: Australian Railway Historical Society. pp. 48, 213. ISBN 0 909650 29 2.
- ARHS Railway Museum: Railway History in Victoria 1839 – 1900
- David Burke (1978). Great Steam Trains of Australia. Rigby. p. 78.
- "AE Sitting Carriages – V&SAR Joint Stock". Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages.
- ""Loddon" – Sleeping Car No. 10 – V&SAR Joint Stock". Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages.
- ""Mount Lofty" – Pullman Sleeping Car". Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages.
- "Hopkins". Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages.
- ""Adelaide" – Pullman Dining Car". Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages.
- Burke. Ibid. p82.
- Comrails: V&SAR Joint Stock – Wooden Vestibule
- ARHS Railway Museum: Railway History in Victoria 1900–1950
- Comrails: Steel V&SAR Joint Stock Carriages
- SteamRanger: SteamRanger's Diesel Locos and Railcars
- Victorian Railways: B class diesel electric locomotives
- National Railway Museum – Port Adelaide: 930-class
- Allambi Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
- Tantini Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
- Dorai Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
- Weroni Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
- Comrails: Steel V&SAR Joint Stock Carriages Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
- Tawarri – V&SAR Joint Stock Steel Sleeping Car Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
- Yankai – V&SAR Joint Stock Steel Sleeping Car Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
- The Overland Chris' Commonwealth Railways Pages
- Vincent Adams Winter (1990). VR and VicRail: 1962 – 1983. p. 206. ISBN 0-9592069-3-0.
- Railway History 1950 - 1975 ARHS Railway Museum
- "Newsline Interstate" Railway Digest April 1995 page 16
- "Morrison Knudsen Australia and the CLPs" Railway Digest June 1994 Page 16
- "Goodbye AN Passenger, Hello Great Southern Railway" Railway Digest December 1997 page 7
- "SA Standard Gauge" Railway Digest" May 1999 page 37
- "GSR Announce Changes to Ghan & Overland" Railway Digest August 1998 page 10
- "Geelong Standard Gauge Platform Opens, Overland Accelerated but Stations Bypassed" Railway Digest July 1999 page 17
- Overland bypasses Stawell station Stawell Times 23 January 2007
- Refurbished Overland Train Ready to Roll Minister For Public Transport 8 May 2007
- The Overland Motorail Great Southern Rail
- "Passengers Can Now take Their Car by Train to Adelaide". Media Release: Minister for Public Transport. 18 February 2009.
- New Train Services for Western Victoria Premier of Victoria 25 August 2008
- "All Aboard: Train Services Return to Stawell – Premier of Victoria". Minister for Public Transport. www.premier.vic.gov.au. 14 October 2010.
- Change of Schedule – The Overland Great Southern Rail
- "Overland's last Thursday departure" Railway Digest October 2013 page 22
Media related to The Overland at Wikimedia Commons