State Library and Tasmanian Archives Blog

150 Years of Tasmanian Railways

An old black and white photo of a train crossing a bridge.

From staggering feats of engineering and the enabling of complex mining operations, to employment for men and women and family social outings, for 150 years railways have played an important role in the economic and social history of Tasmania.  The story of the Tasmanian Railways is one of great successes, but also of hardships, economic failures, and disasters. It is a colourful and dynamic history.

In this series of blogs, we highlight a couple of colourful figures and incidents in the history of Tasmanian railways to highlight the human and social side of the railways. Railways provided livelihoods for a range of different people, not just those who were employed as drivers or engineers, but for the community at large. We will focus on the social life that popped up around the railways, the hubs of activities and social life that developed in Tasmania around or directly because of the railway. 

In concert with these blogs we are celebrating the occasion with an exhibition of railway records and memorabilia in our State Library Reading Room, which will then travel to libraries around the state.

We have also released a new and expansive Tasmanian Railway Guide to our railway records, which should greatly assist researchers who want to delve into those intricate technical drawings, expansive line plans and registers of rolling stock.


  • Dr Alicia Marchant is an archivist for the State Library and Archive Service.

4 thoughts on “150 Years of Tasmanian Railways”

  1. Sierra-Maeve says:

    Hi! I am doing some research and I was wondering if anyone knew about the story (not 100% sure if it was just a tale that my great grandpa told me as a kid) about the great lakes railway line? or a line that ran through there that apparently killed a bunch of people because they didnt realise the lake had been split in two? Thankyou!

  2. Peter Amey says:

    How about some information on the train, please. Engine Type; what is the train doing? It looks like a works train??? where is the photo taken? Year? 18th Century?

  3. greg luck says:

    Hi there, great project !

    I have the original handwritten costings and works schedule for the Mersey to Deloraine train line back in the 1880s. Are they of interest to your research ? they give a true picture of the costs in labour, materials and time. Also have the tender acceptance telegrams that relate to the above line.

    Regards Greg

    • Alicia Marchant says:

      Hi Greg, many thanks.
      Wow, how fabulous! What an amazing record to have. Would you be interested in donating these items to the archives? If so, we have some information about donating items of historical value and also a Collection Offers form on our website here. All the best!

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