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Postage Stamp of Express service
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Predecessor||Overland Limited (until 1949)|
|Last service||June 1969|
|Former operator(s)||Newfoundland Railway (1898–1949)
Canadian National Railway (1950–June 1969)
|End||Port aux Basques|
|Distance travelled||883 kilometres (549 mi)|
|Average journey time||23 hours|
|Track gauge||3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)|
|Track owner(s)||CN & Newfoundland T'Railway|
The Dominion of Newfoundland became the 10th province of Canada when it entered Confederation on March 31, 1949. At that time, CNR took over the operations of the Newfoundland Railway, a 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) narrow gauge railway network running across the island.
At the time that CNR took over operations, the premiere cross-island passenger train was called The Overland Limited. CNR renamed this train in 1950 to the Caribou and it maintained approximately the same 23-hour schedule from St. John's (also the eastern terminus of the railway on Newfoundland), to the system's western terminus at the ferry terminal in Port aux Basques, where connecting ferry services to the North American railway network at North Sydney, Nova Scotia were made.
The 23 hour schedule sealed the fate of the Caribou when the Trans-Canada Highway opened across the island in 1965, allowing automobiles to travel between Port aux Basques and St. John's in under 12 hours. By 1967 CN was running "Roadcruiser" buses in competition with its own trains. While the train took a day and a night to cross the island, the bus took a meager 13 to 15 hours. Many people fought against CN by claiming the buses could not handle the rough winters. Their argument was crushed when a train derailed in the winter and all passengers were transferred to bus. By 1969 CN worried that there would not be enough buses to handle the summer traffic, So they planned to keep the trains running for a little bit longer. But just before the summer a new group of buses arrived and CN was able to cut the service. CN withdrew the dedicated passenger trains in July 1969. CN maintained limited "mixed" passenger and freight train service to certain isolated communities on the island until the complete abandonment of its narrow gauge system in the fall of 1988. The CN Roadcruiser Bus service operated until March 29, 1996, when it was sold to DRL Coachlines of Triton, Newfoundland.