Emu Bay Railway

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Not to be confused with Melba Line, The present day railway line.
Emu Bay Railway
ARHS Emu Bay.jpg
Map of the Original route
Locale  Australia
Dates of operation 1897–2004
Successor TasRail
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Electrification No

The Emu Bay Railway was a successful private rail business in Tasmania, and was the longest lasting and most successful private railway company in Australia.

Unlike the present day Melba Line the Company ran the line all the way to Zeehan from Burnie, carrying minerals and passengers as an essential service for the West Coast community. In 2004 the Company and its railway line were taken over by TasRail.


Initial attempts to link the West Coast of Tasmania to more settled areas commenced in the 1870s when the Van Diemen's Land Company engaged John C Climie to undertake a survey of a line from near Burnie to Mount Bischoff.[1] The Emu Bay Railway Company commenced operations in its own name in 1897 and its operations were taken over in 2004 and absorbed into TasRail. It served Guildford, Rosebery, and Zeehan, the connection between Zeehan and Regatta Point being a government made and run line. During the construction of the Pieman River hydro electric scheme in the late 1970s it had its route changed and new bridges were built.

The railway is famous for providing transport to Queenstown from Burnie during the 1912 North Mount Lyell Disaster, when the times made on various sections which were never bettered. The railway was also one of the more successful users of the notorious war-time Australian Standard Garratts [ASG], during the 1960s.

For a short period in the 1960s before the completion of the Murchison Highway, the railway had a passenger and road vehicle train named the West Coaster between Guildford Junction and Zeehan from 1961 to 1964.

On 8 March 1964 the last train to Zeehan was run as an (A.R.E.A) Special train. Thereafter the line was basically goods only excepting a twice weekly 'mixed' which subsisted until 1983, using 'West Coaster' cars ABL1 and 2, which retained their two-tone blue livery.

The line was truncated to Rosebery and then extended again over most of the line to Zeehan to its current terminus at Melba Flats where the Mount Lyell company and the successor companies that followed trucked their ores from Queenstown.

Stopping Places[edit]

At its peak as a steam operation the railway had approximately 23 stopping or named places (including names for watering locations and other passenger operation related points) on its line and adjacent lines:

  • Burnie
  • Pigeon Hill
  • Ridgley
  • Highclere
  • Hampshire
  • Ringwood
  • Toronna
  • Wey River Bridge
  • Guildford - junction to the Mount Bischoff tin Mine
    • Rouse's Camp (Mt Bischoff branch line)
    • Magnet Junction (Mt Bischoff branch line)
    • Waratah (Mt Bischoff branch line)
    • Mount Magnet (Magnet Tramway)
  • Muddy Creek
  • Bulgobac
  • Boko
  • Farrell Junction with the North Mount Farrell Tramway to Tullah, now known as the Wee Georgie Wood Railway.
  • Primrose
  • Barkers Crossing
  • Rosebery
  • Renison Bell
  • Argent Tunnel
  • Melba Siding (also known as Melba Flats)
  • Rayna Junction -- (Junction with the Maestris, or Mount Dundas- Zeehan Railway
  • Zeehan.

Beyond Zeehan the Government line continued to Regatta Point to connect with the Mount Lyell line to Queenstown.

Rolling stock[edit]

One diesel engine from the Emu Bay Railway has been restored (though re-gauged to 2 ft 6 in (762 mm)) for use on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway in Victoria another, 1002, is in preservation at the Don River Railway along with its steam predecessor number 8 "Heemskirk" . 10 class locomotives 1003 and 1004 are at the Zig Zag Railway in NSW with 1004 operational. The 'PVH' class diesel-hydraulic locomotive built by North British of Glasgow in 1952 has been sold to the Derwent Valley Railway, where it remains operational. Indeed, the E.B.R. used only diesel-hydraulic, diesel mechanical and steam power, and refused to allow any T.G.R., and later A.N.R. Tasrail diesel-electric locomotives on their line. However, since TasRail acquired the E.B.R., all their diesel-hydraulic locomotives have been sold, most to preservation.[citation needed] The diesel-mechanical equivalents of the TGR V class are long gone.


  1. ^ TASMANIA. HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY. TRAMWAY : (No. 90.) Report on Survey of proposed by Mr. J. C. Climie, CE. laid upon the Table by the Minister of Lands, and ordered by the House to be printed, 16 August 1882

See also[edit]


External links[edit]