A Steam Train Passes

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A Steam Train Passes
A Steam Train Passes.gif
DVD cover
Directed by David Haythornwaite
Produced by Anthony Buckley
Starring Chris O'Sullivan
Harold Fowler
Cinematography Dean Semler
Edited by Wayne LeClos
Distributed by Film Australia
Release date
Running time
21 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

A Steam Train Passes is an award winning Australian 1974 short film set in the 1940s, featuring the construction and operation of locomotive 3801.


The opening sequence is a 1943 black-and-white Cinesound newsreel Monarch of the Rails showing the locomotive being built. The film then changes to colour and shows the locomotive at the Enfield Locomotive Depot, then the home of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum. The fireman lights the fire and the driver inspects the locomotive. When ready the locomotive is turned on the turntable.

The main part of the film shows the train travelling through the New South Wales countryside through disparate locations including the Sydney suburbs, Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge, Ten Tunnels Deviation, Blayney station and the Picton-Mittagong loop line. These scenes are interspersed with vignettes of life the 1940s including a travelling salesman, a country wedding and soldiers in a pub, all linked to the train journey.

Most of the audio is live sound of the train, with some overlaid with original music by George Dreyfus.


There are no speaking parts so the actors are not credited. The only "acting" credits are for the driver Chris O'Sullivan and fireman Harold Fowler, both employees of the Public Transport Commission. Cecil Barnes is the fireman in the last scenes of the film. He and the driver in that scene are intended to be 'earlier' incarnations of the credited driver and fireman.


A Steam Train Passes is one of Film Australia's most successful films [1][2]. It has won many awards and is generally regarded as Australia's finest railway film [3].

Awards include:

Film footage[edit]

Footage from this film has become almost stock footage for other productions requiring footage of a steam train. Footage has been used in Sirens, Rabbit-Proof Fence, True Believers, Curtin and several documentaries.

The original negative is preserved at the National Film and Sound Archive.


In 2012, the National Film and Sound Archive restored and digitally remastered the film. Film Australia made it available on YouTube on 27 August of that year.


External links[edit]