Queensland Rail celebrates connecting communities for 160 years

Opening of railway 1865.PNGQueensland Rail is celebrating the 160th anniversary of construction of the first section of railway in Queensland.

​Queensland Rail CEO Kat Stapleton said while it’s hard to imagine a time without rail, it was quite a contentious issue back in the 1860s. 

“Records show that the 1863 Railw​ay Bill was one of the most fiercely debated bills that had been placed before the colonial legislature,” she said. 

“The main opposition centred on the choice of three foot six inches as the gauge, which had never been used before for a main line. 

“However, despite the debate, on the 25 February 1864, the first sod of the Queensland railways was turned at North Ipswich, by Lady Bowen, the wife of the first Queensland Governor Sir George Bowen. 

“Nearly everything the railway needed to operate – staff, locomotives and carriages – were imported from Britain. The section to Bigges Camp (now Grandchester station) opened on 31 July 1865.”  

Ms Stapleton said the railways played a vital role in the economic and social development of the state. 

“The first railway wasn’t initially for the benefit of moving people, but to move wool and produce to the coast. 

“And when gold was discovered in the late 1800s we saw rail lines built to Mt Perry, Gympie, Charters Towers and Mount Morgan. 

“Where the railways went, those communities expanded and flourished.” 

Ms Stapleton said Queensland Rail had come a long way in 160 years. 

“It’s wonderful to look back at our beginnings as a ‘Pony Railway’ to see how far we’ve come today,” she said. 

“Our network now extends more than 6,600 kilometres across the state and we have a workforce of 7500. 

“Our SEQ business delivers 8,392 services each week, there are eight services connecting regional communities across Queensland and our network is used by freight operators to move crucial resources around the state. 

“Queensland Rail has been connecting communities for nearly 160 years and we look forward to doing it for many years to come.” 

Queensland Rail has events planned for 2025, to celebrate the 160 year anniversary of the railway opening. 

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