Guide to Adelaide South Australia
Rail services around Adelaide are provided
by a mixture of private & government-owned organisations.
TransAdelaide is a corporate agency
of the Government of South Australia and is contracted
by the SA Office of Public Transport to operate the suburban
passenger rail network. This comprises five lines from
Adelaide Railway Station on North Terrace in the CBD.
The State Government of South Australia retains ownership
of all broad gauge lines in the suburban area, together
with the Glenelg Tram.
ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation),
an agency of the Australian federal government, owns standard
gauge interstate lines heading north and south, together
with the dual gauge freight-only branch from Dry Creek
to Port Adelaide and Pelican Point. The ARTC lines bypass
the city to the west and do not enter the CBD. The ARTC
network extends from Adelaide towards Melbourne, Sydney,
Perth and Darwin and is used by substantial interstate
Freight trains are operated by a number
of private operators, who have access agreements with
rail network owners such as ARTC. The largest of these
is Pacific National, which handles the majority of interstate
traffic and has the largest locomotive fleet. Other logistics
companies also operate freight trains to and from interstate
destinations and within South Australia.
Australian Railroad Group (ARG) is a
private consortium that owns the remaining broad-gauge
lines beyond the Adelaide suburban network. These are
a handful of lines used mainly to move bulk grain and
stone from the Barossa Valley and mid-north region of
S.A to the Port Adelaide area. ARG also operates standard
gauge branches to Apamurra, Loxton and Pinnaroo (all in
the Murray Mallee east of Adelaide) and an isolated narrow
gauge line from Port Lincoln into Eyre Peninsula. These
transport seasonal grain traffic to ports for export.
Great Southern Railway (GSR) is a private
company operating long-distance passenger trains. These
trains use ARTC’s standard gauge lines and run from
the Keswick Rail Terminal, not from the main city station
- Keswick is an industrial suburb just west of the CBD.
GSR’s passenger trains are the Indian Pacific to
Sydney and Perth, The Ghan to Alice Springs and Darwin
and The Overland to Melbourne. The frequencies range from
one to four trains per week, depending on destination.
There have been no intra-state regional passenger services
in South Australia since 1990.
There are several heritage related
railways in South Australia run by volunteers, but none
of these are based in the Adelaide area. The closest is
SteamRanger at Mount Barker and Goolwa. More distant lines,
well outside the Adelaide area, are the Pichi Richi Railway,
Limestone Coast Railway and Yorke Peninsula Railway.
Despite the earlier geographic expansion,
by 1920 the infrastructure and rolling stock of South
Australia's railways had become run down, inadequate and
outdated. Many of the operating practices, such as train
control and signalling, were backward by the standards
of the time.
However the 1920s saw substantial and
expensive improvements in most facets of the SAR’s
operations under the leadership of Railways Commissioner
William A. Webb. Webb was an American who had substantial
operational experience with US railroads, and served as
Commissioner between 1922 and 1930.
During his reign, track, bridges, railway
workshops, rolling stock and especially steam locomotives
were all modernised and upgraded along essentially American
lines. Adelaide Station was rebuilt with a very handsome
sandstone building as a showpiece of the city on North
Terrace. The building still stands, converted into a casino.
In 1929, one of the original broad
gauge steam railways to the beach-side suburb of Glenelg
was transferred to the Adelaide Municipal Tramways Trust,
electrified and converted to a tramway. The Glenelg Tram
line is still in operation.
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