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State Rail Authority

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Statutory Authority overview
Formed1 July 1980
Preceding Statutory Authority
Dissolved31 December 2003
Superseding agency
JurisdictionNew South Wales
Statutory Authority executive
Key document

The State Rail Authority, a former statutory authority of the Government of New South Wales, operated and maintained railways in the Australian state of New South Wales from July 1980 until December 2003.


44 & 45 south of Kyogle in 1987

The Transport Authorities Act 1980 separated the functions of the Public Transport Commission (formerly responsible for all public transport) and established the State Rail Authority. The State Rail Authority assumed responsibility for trains, while the Urban Transit Authority responsibility for buses and ferries.[1][2]

In July 1982 a new colour scheme developed by Phil Belbin of red, yellow, orange and white was unveiled, which was commonly referred to as the "candy colours".[3] The L7 logo used by the Public Transport Commission was retained, albeit with the dark and light blue replaced with red and orange. Around this time, they also gave playing cards and soap to passengers.[citation needed]


During its tenure the State Rail Authority completed a number of electrification projects:

Rolling Stock[edit]

The State Rail Authority introduced new 80 Class, 81 Class and 86 Class locomotives used on both freight and country passenger services, K set, C set, Tangara, Millennium and V set double deck electric passenger trains and the XPT. It also placed an order for the 82 Class and 90 Class locomotives that were delivered to FreightRail in 1994. A fleet of Denning and Scania coaches was purchased to replace withdrawn country rail services.[9]

Inherited Locomotives and Multiple Units
Name Image Build Year Withdrawn
42 Class
4201, 16/09/2017
1955/1956 1983
421 Class
42103 and GM22
1965/1966 1986
422 Class 1969/1970 n/a
44 Class
Several 44 Class locomotives
1957/1967 1997
442 Class
1970/1973 1994
45 Class 1962/1964 1994
47 Class
1972/1973 1989
48 Class
A pair of 48 Class Locomotives
1959/1970 n/a
49 Class
1960/1964 1995, later 1997
70 Class 1960/1961 1986
73 Class
1970/1973 1987/1990
80 Class 1979/1983 2003
X100 Class
1962 1992
46 Class 1956/1968 1996
85 Class 1979/1980 1998
CPH 1923 1985
BPH 1934 1983
Silver City Comet
DP 104
1937 1989
1967 1986
400/500 Class 1938 1983
600/700 Class 1949/1950 1994
620/720 Class 1961 2007
660/760 Class 1973 1994
HPF 954
1951/1960 1994
1110 Class 1961 1993
1200 Class 1970 1993
Standard Suburban Stock
1925/1926 1992
Tulloch Single Deck Stock 1950 1992
Sputnik Stock 1957 1993
U Set "U Boat"
CF 5003
1958 1996
Tulloch Double Deck Stock
1964 1980/2004
V Sets
1970 n/a, proposed 2023
S Sets 1972 2019
Inherited Coach Stock
Name Image Build Year Withdrawn
S Type 1935 1989
N Type 1939 late 1980s
HUB Type
FH 2230
1948 1994, later 2000
RUB Type 1949 1994, later 2000
Stainless Type 1961 1993
Pre-Booz Locomotives, Multiple Units and Coaches
Name Image Build Year Withdrawn
81 Class 1982/1986 n/a
XPT 1982 n/a, proposed 2023
K Set
R16 (original classification)
1981 n/a, proposed 2024
C Set 1986 2021
T Set "Tangara"
1988 n/a
86 Class 1983/1985 2002
Post-Booz Locomotives and Multiple Units
Name Image Build Year Withdrawn
82 Class
1994/1995 n/a
90 Class 1994 n/a
PL Class 1999/2001 n/a
1993 n/a, proposed 2023
1992 n/a, proposed 2023
G Set
1994 converted to T sets in 2010
M Set
2002/2005 n/a

Booz Allen Hamilton review and restructure[edit]

44218 in FreightCorp livery alongside 7317 in the candy livery at Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot circa 1990

Following the election of the Greiner State Government in March 1988, consultants Booz Allen Hamilton were commissioned to prepare a report into NSW rail services. In November 1988, before the report was complete, the North Coast Overnight Express to Grafton, the Northern Mail to Moree and Tenterfield, the Bathurst day train, the Western Mail to Dubbo and the Canberra Monaro Express to Cooma all ceased.[10]

After receiving the Booz Allen Hamilton report, the government released its response in July 1989 under the title CountryLink 2000. It was announced the number of staff employed on country rail operations would fall from 18,000 to 10,000, including the withdrawal of staff from 94 country railway stations and the Nyngan – Bourke, Queanbeyan – Cooma and Glen Innes – Wallangarra lines would close.

Several country passenger services ceased over the next few years including the Silver City Comet, Northern Tablelands Express, Canberra XPT, Brisbane Limited, Pacific Coast Motorail, South Coast Daylight Express, Intercapital Daylight and Sydney/Melbourne Express. These were replaced either by XPT sets, EMU/DMU sets or coaches. Coach services which had been operated by the State Rail Authority's own fleet were contracted out to private operators. The report had recommended closing all country passenger services as they were judged unviable, however this was not politically acceptable.[11][12]

The State Rail Authority was divided into business units:

  • CityRail: responsible for suburban and interurban passenger services
  • CountryLink: responsible for country passenger services
  • FreightRail: responsible for freight services
  • Rail Estate: responsible for rail property

CityRail adopted a blue and yellow colour scheme including L7 logo, CountryLink a blue, white and grey scheme and FreightRail a blue and yellow scheme.

July 1996 restructure[edit]

On 1 July 1996, the State Rail Authority was restructured into four distinct entities by the Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Corporatisation and Restructuring) Act 1996[13][14] to separate infrastructure from operations as required by the Competition Policy Reform Act 1995.[15][16][17] This was part of the process of moving to an open access regime.

The entities were:[14]

  • Freight Rail Corporation: responsible for freight services
  • Rail Access Corporation: responsible for managing track and providing access to public and private operators
  • Railway Services Authority: responsible for track and rolling stock maintenance
  • State Rail Authority: passenger service operator consisting of CityRail and CountryLink

February 1998 restructure[edit]

Another restructure in February 1998 saw the State Rail Authority split into four operating divisions:[14][18]

  • CityRail Stations
  • CountryLink
  • Operations
  • Passenger Fleet Maintenance

January 2001 restructure[edit]

In January 2001, the Rail Access Corporation and Railway Services Authority were merged into the Rail Infrastructure Corporation that took responsibility for ownership and maintenance of the infrastructure.[19][20]

January 2004 restructure and wind down[edit]

In January 2004, after much criticism and public perceptions of blame shifting between units for operational failings, RailCorp was formed taking over the passenger train operations from the residual State Rail Authority (CityRail and CountryLink) and responsibility for maintaining the greater metropolitan network from the Rail Infrastructure Corporation.[21][22]

By June 2006 much of the operational function had been transferred, with the State Rail Authority in the process of being wound down.[23]


From September 1981 until June 1989, State Wide was the SRA's inhouse journal.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Transport Authorities Act 1980 (NSW)
  2. ^ State Rail Authority of New South Wales (I) Archived 24 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine NSW Government State Records
  3. ^ "Genesis of the Candy Colours". Railway Digest August 1985
  4. ^ Railway Sign Official Opening Gosford – Wyong Electrification 3 April 1982 Archived 27 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine Powerhouse Museum Collection
  5. ^ "The Official Opening of Newcastle Rail Electrification" Railway Digest July 1984
  6. ^ "Wollongong Electrification Open at Last" Railway Digest March 1986
  7. ^ "Electric trains reach Richmond" Railway Digest September 1991
  8. ^ "Dapto electrics spark timetable changes" Railway Digest February 1993
  9. ^ "State Rail Coach Services – The Vehicles" Australian Bus Panorama 9/3 October 1993
  10. ^ "End of the Passengers but Not the Politics" Railway Digest December 1989
  11. ^ "CountryLink 2000" Railway Digest August 1989
  12. ^ Moore, M Lagan, B. SRA takes axe to 8000 jobs Sydney Morning Herald 14 July 1989
  13. ^ Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Corporatisation and Restructuring) Act 1996 Archived 1 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine New South Wales Parliament 1996
  14. ^ a b c State Rail Authority of New South Wales (II) Archived 23 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine NSW Government State Records
  15. ^ Competition Policy Reform Act 1995 Archived 4 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine Australian Parliament 20 July 1995
  16. ^ "State Rail Restructure Announced" Railway Digest" May 1996 page 7
  17. ^ Annual Report 30 June 1997 Archived 25 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine State Rail Authority
  18. ^ Annual Report 30 June 1998 Archived 25 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine State Rail Authority
  19. ^ Rail Infrastructure Corporation Archived 23 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine NSW Government State Records
  20. ^ Annual Report 30 June 2001 Archived 25 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine Rail Infrastructure Corporation
  21. ^ Rail Corporation of New South Wales Archived 29 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine NSW Government State Records
  22. ^ Annual Report 30 June 2004 Archived 25 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine RailCorp
  23. ^ Annual Report 30 June 2006 Archived 25 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine State Rail Authority
  24. ^ "State Wide" Rail Staff Newsletter Western Sydney Records Centre

External links[edit]

Media related to State Rail Authority of New South Wales at Wikimedia Commons