Our History

Australia’s first trains began operating in 1854, when the country was still a group of separate colonies. The first train lines were confined to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide spanning just a few kilometers. Railways were expanded as settlers began to venture further inland mainly to bring farm and mining produce to the coastal cities and ports and move supplies back inland.

These early inland rail lines formed the basis for the systems that would eventually become Australia’s transcontinental railways.

When railway construction began, the engineers favoured the gauge system they were most familiar with. When train lines were expanded to travel between states, the lines and equipment were incompatible. Passengers and freight would often have to be transferred from one train to another at state borders.

This issue was addressed and mainland interstate lines have now been standardised, so that passengers and freight can travel between capital cities without the need to change trains.

ARTC was created after the Commonwealth and State Governments agreed in 1997 to form a ‘one-stop’ shop for all operators wanting access to the standardised national interstate rail network.

Today, ARTC plays a critical role in the transport supply chain and in the overall economic development of Australia. Our network supports industries and businesses that are vital to the nation’s economy by facilitating the movement of a range of commodities including general freight, coal, iron ore, other bulk minerals and agricultural products. Our network is also important in providing access for interstate and inter-city passenger services.

Since our formation, we have been focussed on infrastructure investment and the modernisation of the interstate rail network. Our work to extend, build and upgrade the track has been vital to bring it to a safe, consistent and reliable operating standard and to allow for the capacity that the Interstate market and Hunter Valley coal chain require.

Having emerged from this period of significant investment and network growth, our focus has now shifted to bringing more freight onto rail through putting our customers at the centre of everything we do.

Acknowledgement of Country

ARTC acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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