No freights to Canberra?

ThatUniStudent 18 July 2011 7

I was surprised to discover the other day that there are no freight trains to Canberra any more, and there apparently hasn’t been since 2009. Being a bit of a photography buff I wanted to photograph some trains in action. Apparently there are only passenger trains and the occasional tourist train.

Apart from some rolling stock sitting in a siding at Royalla Station, does anyone know of any freight trains or rolling stock that can be spotted with any certainty and can then be photographed? Do freights still come to Canberra? If there are no freight trains, how does all our food, fuel and other bulk cargo get here?

Ps, I know the Hysterical Railway Society have a yard, but their tours are short, shepherded and not focussed on passenger stock.

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7 Responses to No freights to Canberra?
Watson Watson 9:04 pm 26 Jul 11

milkman said :

Canberra doesn’t deserve trains.

Canberra doesn’t deserve freight. Let them eat cake.

milkman milkman 7:27 pm 26 Jul 11

Canberra doesn’t deserve trains.

Sir Pompously Sir Pompously 6:35 pm 26 Jul 11

The last train to run to Canberra was the “Canberra Oil” hauled by Pacific National which hauled fuel from Sydney (Sandown to Canberra, three times a week. The last service was early last year, and knowing the impending departure of freight from the Canberra scene I did go out multiple times before the final run, some photos can be found at

Other than that you have the daily Xplorer services (2 per day) and the odd ARHS Service. As for other trains in the region, you have the Crisps Creek Garbage Train which runs from Crisps Creek (Tarago) to Sydney twice a day, you have a tourist railway in Cooma which runs on the Bombala Branch to Chakola using CPH Railmotors, the main south line which runs from Sydney to Melbourne has trains passing through Goulburn and Yass Junction, as well as Cootamundra, Junee and Wagga Wagga where many lines branch off with grain and intermodal services. A Timetable can be found on the ARTC Website with regards to main south workings.

Anything that is freight worthy now comes by road and has done so for many years. In all my time I have only known of the Canberra Oil, however there were many other services before the 90’s at least!

RedDogInCan RedDogInCan 7:07 pm 18 Jul 11

Yass Junction has quite a few freights passing through it. There is a regular privately run train that is stopped there quite often, pull by ancient 44 and 48 class engines.

There are also the regular garbage trains terminating just this side of Tarago.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 4:48 pm 18 Jul 11

There’s a rail line that has freight carriages going along it that runs beside the old Hume Hwy near Breadalbane.

YetAnotherBlowIn YetAnotherBlowIn 2:31 pm 18 Jul 11

Remembering back to when I went to the Railway Hysterical Society about 18 months ago the last freight being delivered by rail was petrol, but due to the deteriorating track conditions they decided to switch to road freight. The speed limit on the Canberra/Queanbeyan branch line is being constantly decreased as no-one is willing to put in the money to maintain it: NSW doesn’t want to pay for it as the line is there to serve the ACT, the ACT doesn’t want to pay as the line is in NSW. There is a real chance that passenger services will cease at some point in the near future, not surprising given that taking a bus will not only be 1hr quicker but also deliver you to the city centre.

Looking on Google Map there is/was a bunch of oil liquid cars just east of Ipswich St, and I thought I saw other rolling stock along the stretch between Ispwich and Newcastle street when I went on the tourist trip to Bungendore.

You can always ask the Historical Society for their advice on where to find rolling stock – they’re open from 1pm to 4pm on Sundays (and run 10min joy rides in Tin Hare rail motor on the last Sunday of each month). Otherwise, if you’re up for some travel there’s the railway museum at Goulburn and a or the new Train Works museum in Thirlmere (I haven’t been to either of those, but they’re on my to do list).

dungfungus dungfungus 1:56 pm 18 Jul 11

You forget to mention the Gravy Train which terminates at Capital Hill.
All the stuff we consume in Canberra (a “Rural Destination” as defined by AQIS) comes by road. There are a lot of empty trucks that then leave Canberra so, in the absence of no backloading as Canberra manufactures next to nothing, we have to pay a surcharge to get the empty trucks back to Sydney or wherever. Three years ago it was costing me $1,500 to get a 20′ container delivered road from Port Botany to Canberra and return same day to avoid demurrage. Why anyone could envisage Canberra as a “National Freight Hub” is a mystery to me.
Don’t be surpised to see the railway services to Bungendore, Queanbeyan and Canberra close down totally soon; Tarago/Crisps Creek garbage inter model will be the end of the line. It is more cost effective to use buses.
Best and nearest photo access to freight trains is the Yass railway station.

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