Queensland's steam railways



QR, previously known as Queensland Rail, Queensland Railways or Queensland Government Railways, is the State-owned corporation responsible for the operation and maintenance of the railway system in the State of Queensland, Australia.

QR is the second largest narrow gauge railway system in the world, operating on tracks with a 1067 mm (3'6") width between the rails. Queensland was also home to the first narrow gauge mainline railway in the world, when the first track opened to traffic in 1865 between Ipswich and the small town of Grandchester 25 km to the west - this stretch now forms part of the main line from Brisbane to the western interior.

Not only was this the first 1067 mm railway in the world, but the gauge subsequently spread to Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Southern Africa, Nigeria and Ghana among others, the gauge originally selected to reduce costs through steep escarpments. The history of Queensland's selection of a gauge is given here.

QR now boasts a route network of over 9,000 km of which some 1,000 km are electrified at 25kVAC. This is largest electrified network in the southern hemisphere.
The "backbone" of the QR network - the North Coast railway line from Brisbane north to Cairns - is electrified as far north as Rockhampton, approximately 600 km (375 miles) north of Brisbane.

Most of the lines used to transport coal from inland mines to coastal ports are also electrified. Many coal trains in Queensland are hauled by multiple locomotives, with remotely controlled locomotives in the middle. These trains are some of the heaviest in the world and can reach over four kilometers in length.

Queensland's railways are among the safest in the world, a condition resulting from their high-quality track and the maintenance of their rolling stock.

Here are some glorious images of the recently re-built Queensland Railways' C17 No. 974 steam locomotive - making it the fifth steam locomotive Queensland Railways now has in operation. It is used for tours on the QR network and kept at The Workshops railway museum, Ipswich - built in Maryborough by Walkers Limited in 1951, it wears builders number 511.



C17 No. 974 - the journey begins!

Here we see C17 No. 974 departing from Roma Street Station, Brisbane [photographed by James Saunders, 2007].

To read through Queensland Railways' timetables and fares, look here.



Towards Pinkenba

Charging by at 70 km/h on the first run to Pinkenba [photographed by James Saunders, 2007]. Not all stations in Australia were signalled to the high standards set by British signalling, and Pinkenba was a fine example of a station with no interlocking at all.

Generally, Australian mechanical signalling practice bears great similarity with British signalling, and indeed McKenzie & Holland established a factory there which produced almost all of the signalling needs for that part of the globe. But just as Australia has suffered from a gauge muddle, the different states tended to go their own way regarding signalling practice. For a comprehensive assessment of Australian signalling systems, look here and here.



C17 No. 974 on the approach

This shot is taken from a footbridge, with C17 No.974 approaching at 55km/h [photographed by James Saunders, 2007].

For a complete list of preserved Queensland Railways steam locomotives look here.



Through suburbia

A rather special sight! An express train passing through a suburban train station at approximately 50km/h [photographed by James Saunders, 2007].

For pictures, maps and details of any station within the Queensland Railway system, look here.



Listen to the sounds of Queensland steam
The glorious sound of steam locomotives working the tracks within Queensland can be heard on the excellent Right Away! Railway Recordings website here.

Locomotives expertly recorded include C17 No. 974, the glorious Pacific Class 3801 and BB18 1/4 No. 1089, the last mainline steam locomotive to be built in Australia.



C17 No. 974 in action - Steam Train Sunday Part 1

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C17 No. 974 in action - Steam Train Sunday Part 2

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Up close with 974

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Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway 2006

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Queensland's Rail Heritage

The excellent Queensland rail website - QldRailHeritage.com - here - offers enthusiasts a single point of access to Queensland's rail heritage institutions, rail-oriented museums, heritage rail tours, railfan groups, model railways etc.

Links include:

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