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Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia

Appendix C: Timeline of development of railways in South Australia

1854 The first railway line in South Australia is constructed – a horse-drawn tramway between Goolwa (port of the River Murray) and Port Elliot.
1856 The first state-owned railway is built between Adelaide and Port Adelaide.
1860 The railway at Kapunda is built.
1864 The Goolwa–Port Elliot line is extended to Victor Harbor.
1870 The Kapunda railway line is extended from Roseworthy to Burra, later to Morgan for Murray River steamer trade.
1879 The Great Northern Railway is built from Port Augusta to Quorn.
1883 The Great Northern Railway is extended to Marree.
1887 The inter-colonial railway between Adelaide and Melbourne is completed.
1891 The Great Northern Railway reaches Oodnadatta.
1911 The Commonwealth enters railways when it acquires the narrow gauge Port Augusta–Oodnadatta line (operated by South Australian Railways until 1926).
1917 South Australia has three different gauges operating – broad, narrow and standard.
The Trans-Australian Railway, running between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie, is built by Commonwealth Railways.
1920s Murray Mallee lines are built to broad gauge and mid-north lines are converted from narrow to broad gauge.
1921 A royal commission inquires into a uniform railway gauge. The recommendation of a uniform 4'8½' is accepted.
1929 The Port Augusta–Alice Springs line is completed by Commonwealth Railways.
1936 The Intercolonial Express, later known as the Melbourne Express, becomes the Overland.
1937 The Port Pirie–Port Augusta standard gauge line is complete, linking Port Augusta to Adelaide.
1950s All lines south of Wolseley (apart from Glencoe) are broadened.
1955 The Port Pirie–Port Augusta (Stirling North) standard gauge line is extended to Marree.
1970 The narrow gauge Port Pirie–Cockburn line is replaced with a standard gauge line, as well as 56 kilometres of privately owned line to Broken Hill (owned by Silverton Tramway Company).
The east and west coasts of Australia (Sydney–Perth) are linked by a single, uninterrupted gauge for the first time, known as the Indian-Pacific.
The last steam engines runs.
1978 Commonwealth Railways, South Australian Railways and Tasmanian Government Railways amalgamate to form Australian National Railways.
1980 The narrow gauge from Marree to Alice Springs is replaced by a standard gauge, branching off at Tarcoola on the Trans-Australian line.
1982 The Adelaide–Port Pirie broad gauge is replaced by a standard gauge linking at Crystal Brook.
1992 Interstate freight operations and rolling stock are transferred to the National Rail Corporation.
1995 The Melbourne–Adelaide line is standardised.
1998 Railway infrastructure is transferred to the Australian Rail Track Corporation.