Rail Ferry To Tasmania

Rail Ferry To Tasmania

Roll-On Roll-Off Rail Ferry Across Bass Strait

Victor P Taffa

Australia is the largest island Continent in the world that is in some ways our best line of defence and on the other hand an opportunity that has untapped potential.

For example in Sydney the Cronulla Line on the RailCorp Sydney Metropolitan Network terminates as a Branch Line due to the fact that a beach and ocean stand in the way of expansion. Only recently has the Cronulla Line been duplicated. As Cronulla Railway Station has one of the longest Platforms in New South Wales a new set of Cross-Over Tracks were installed to accommodate Train Movements at Cronulla.

Other Branch Lines such as the Carlingford, Eastern Suburbs and Richmond Lines terminate and can quite easily be extended with both Government backing and Political Will Power.

Cronulla Railway Station With New Cross-Over Tracks

Cronulla Railway Station With New Cross-Over Tracks











Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth all have Branch Line configurations in the layout of Suburban Rail Networks. Branch Line configurations are operationally ineffective and a 19th Century Planning Mistake.

Some in Melbourne wish to abandon Trams and blame the Tramways for the lack of Railway Expansion. In Sydney the same argument against the Tramways was used and once the Trams went Sydney never got any new Railway Lines.


Williamstown Railway Station And Approaching Cross-Over Tracks

Williamstown Railway Station And Approaching Cross-Over Tracks











These Networks are in need of expansion and Branch Lines should be connected to other Lines so as to ensure that the System functions more effectively and in the case of a major Rail Accident such as occurred on 18 January 1977 at Granville Sydney. Had the Harris Park ‘Y’ Link been in place in 1977 the Rail Network would not have been cut in half for 2 days.

Williamstown Line Facing Port Phillip

Williamstown Line Facing Port Phillip











The one man that was a visionary was Dr. John Job Bradfield of who designed and built the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Metropolitan Railways. Much of what Dr. John Bradfield envisaged were for interconnecting Lines that was half of what Sydney has today and a major departure from Railway Planning in London.

Williamstown Railway Station And Surplus Land

Williamstown Railway Station And Surplus Land










The Sydney Harbour Bridge was designed with 4 Railway Lines, 2 Footpaths and 6 Lanes of Roadway. The Sydney Harbour Bridge opened on 19 March 1932.

Many of Dr. Bradfield’s Plans are still half complete and even in 2010 current Railway Planning is for Branch Line configuration that was bourne in London with the Metro ‘Tube’ Network. The Branch Line configuration also permeates Country New South Wales and worse still these Railway Lines are single track and are not electrified.

Williamstown Railway Station Signage

Williamstown Railway Station Signage











Newcastle in New South Wales has what some call a Branch Line and the 1950’s visionary thinking in 2010 still desires to cutback the Line to Wickham or Broadmeadow and expect the Line to perform more effectively.

Williamstown Line Service Arriving

Williamstown Line Service Arriving










Melbourne has turned the St. Kilda and Port Melbourne Railway Lines into Tramways. The rest of Melbourne’s Rail Network is Branch Line configuration and are as follows:

  • Sydenham;
  • Flemington Racecourse Siding;
  • Craigieburn;
  • Upfield;
  • Epping;
  • Hurstbridge;
  • Lilydale;
  • Belgrave;
  • Alamein;
  • Glen Waverley;
  • Pakenham;
  • Cranbourne;
  • Stony Point;
  • Frankston;
  • Sandringham;
  • Williamstown Lines.

The Kennett Government completed the City Loop which comprises the following Stations:

  • Flinders Street;
  • Parliament;
  • Melbourne Central;
  • Flagstaff;
  • Southern Cross (Spencer Street).

In Sydney it took from 1926 until 1956 for the City Circle Line to be completed and this is now running at capacity. Further Branch Line configuration such as the City Relief Line should be resisted and a second City Circle Line such as the Bradfield Line as contained in www.isput.com.au will enhance the capacity of the Network for the next 50 years.

The Bradfield Line comprises the following Stations:

  • Central (Use of Unused Platforms 26 & 27);
  • Darling Harbour ( Near Imax Theatre);
  • King Street (Servicing Barangaroo);
  • Bridge Street;
  • Parliament ( Under Parliament House, utilising existing Tunnels);
  • St. James (Use of Unused Platforms 2 & 3);
  • Hyde Park Corner.

Parliament Station would also have a connecting tunnel & viaduct to the Eastern Suburbs Line.

Sydney’s City Circle Stations are as follows:

  • Central;
  • Town Hall;
  • Wynyard (To Include Platforms 1 & 2);
  • Circular Quay;
  • St. James;
  • Museum.

Williamstown Line And Rail Ferry To Tasmania:

The one Line in Melbourne that can be extended is the Williamstown Line. As with Sydney’s Cronulla Line there is the small matter of Port Phillip to worry about however this can be overcome by providing a Rail Ferry to Devonport, Tasmania. The Williamstown Line is the closest to the Spirit of Tasmania alignment given the currents of Bass Strait and berthing facilities and new extended Railway Tracks would be well placed to be built on land at the end of the Williamstown Line. Any Public Parklands lost can be easily replaced and in many ways improved.

Currently the Spirit of Tasmania operates between Melbourne and Devonport and takes cars on board. During Peak Season the Spirit of Tasmania is full.

Rail Ferries Operate in the Ukraine and other European Countries. The concept of a Rail Ferry is that the required number of carriages is driven or shunted onto the Ferry with normal Railway Tracks on the Ferry. Once at the point of destination the Train drives off the Ferry or another waiting train connects onto the train.

The benefits of a Rail Ferry to Melbourne and Tasmania are enormous. In the first instance a Rail Ferry will add capacity to the Melbourne-Devonport Route and Tourism will increase to Tasmania.

Tasmania has not had a Regular Passenger Rail Service since 1978 and the Tasmanian Railways are again owned by the Tasmanian Government.

A Rail Ferry to Tasmania will necessitate and encourage the reintroduction of modern Electrified Passenger Services to Tasmania. Not only will Tasmania benefit from a Modern Passenger Railway but the Williamstown Line in Melbourne will have a more frequent service especially between Newport and Williamstown.

The Williamstown Line at Williamstown Railway Station will also require a second Platform and some new Rail Sidings.

The Trains that would use the Rail Ferry would also have gauge convertible bogies to accommodate Tasmania’s Narrow gauge against Victoria’s Broad gauge.

The Rail Carriages that would use the Rail Ferry could also Pick Up normal Passengers on the Williamstown Line between Southern Cross and Williamstown thus improving Rail Services that currently operate.

The Rail Ferry Carriages should also have a distinctive livery that makes the new Service stand out from normal services. One possible operator of the Rail Ferry could be Great Southern Rail who operates the Indian-Pacific and are based in Adelaide.

The Rail Ferry would be built in Victoria or Tasmania.

On the one hand Infrastructure Australia is being asked to fund the cutting of the Newcastle Line at no benefit to the community. On the other hand the Commonwealth Government through Infrastructure Australia, the Victoria and Tasmania Government’s should jointly fund the proposal.


When the inland Brisbane-Melbourne Railway is built the Rail Ferry to Tasmania and a resumption of Passenger Services to Tasmania would pay for themselves largely through increased Tourism.

High Speed Rail between Brisbane-Sydney and Sydney-Melbourne should also include Canberra.

High Speed Rail should also operate to Adelaide CBD, Darwin CBD and Perth. www.isput.com.au contains a Map of Australia that supports Railway Expansion and will become individual websites.

High Speed Rail must be electrified to be effective. Use of existing Rail Corridors throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria will ensure that the costs and planning process can be speeded up and built before too long.

The usual suspect will trot out the time honoured reasons why Australia cannot have High Speed Rail. Similarly the Rail Ferry will have only lip service paid to it.

Mine Is Not To Reason Why But Reason Why Not?