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S p i r i t   &   O v e r l a n d


Spirit of Progress of VR with S class Pacific leaving Melbourne (Victorian Railways)


Spirit of Progress (ad of 1937)


The first Melbourne Express coming from Sydney after arrival at Albury, where passengers had to take a broad gauge train (Public Transport Commission of N.S.W.)

The first Spirit of Progress Melbourne – Sydney with two New South Wales C38 class Pacifics (Public Transport Commission of N.S.W.)

Newcastle Express with C38 Pacific (NSWR)

Southern Aurora with class 44 from Goodwin-Alco (NSWR)

Most important was the Melbourne - Sydney route, with change of trains at Albury. The P&O liners first called at Port Melbourne and an "English" mail train shortened the way to Sydney. On the Northern part of the Melbourne - Sydney line, the NSWGR used sleeping cars also from American production. In 1889 a "Mann Boudoir Car" and in 1890/91 Pullman AF types were introduced. Negotiations for services by Pullman however brought no result. From 1936 to 1939 a "Boat Train" connected Melbourne Port with the Flinders Street main station, an electric multiple suburban unit, painted blue.

The sensation on the VR was the dark-blue Spirit of Progress, a steam-hauled streamliner daylight train Melbourne - Albury with connections to Sydney, introduced in 1937. Hauled by streamlined S Pacifics, its set consisted of 11 cars, a diner and a round end observation car included. Chief engineer Walker had got the inspiration by the American streamliners. In a few cases the "Spirit", as it was called, became hauled by the H class, the "Heavy Harry", a Niagara, the biggest express passenger engine outside North America. Streamlining of this prototype had not been carried out and so it remained a fascinating huge black mass. The connecting trains in New South Wales later were hauled by C38 Pacifics, some ones streamlined, nicknamed the "Grey Nurses", then painted green. In 1962 came the first through train Melbourne - Sydney on standard gauge, the stainless all-sleeper Southern Aurora, dieselized, but later it disappeared. Years ago also the first private tourist train on Australian rails, the nostalgic Melbourne Limited, had its debut, even steam hauled by a black/red R class Hudson.

The modern blue/silver XPT diesel units became the new "Spirits" Melbourne - Sydney, diesel railcar units with coaches, buffet service and even sleeping compartments. They were derivatives of the British HST, but cars with stainless steel bodies were built under Budd license. The first units, delivered in 1982 and initially red/silver/black, did run from Sydney to Albury, Kempsey and Dubbo. Now they are the Melbourne XPT, Brisbane XPT and Dubbo XPT, connecting these towns with Sydney much faster than the old trains.

XPT Olympic Spirit
Melbourne - Sydney, standard gauge, 1993:
1 diesel engine unit
1 XFH coach/staff
3 XF coaches
1 BR buffet
1 XL coach with telephone
1 XAM sleeping compartments
1 diesel engine unit.


Colors: blue/stainless (photograph see chapter Travels)

On the Melbourne to Adelaide broad gauge, the Intercolonial Express by VR and SAR started in 1887. VR initially used the Mann Boudoir sleepers no. 2 and 3 on this service. In 1926 it became the Overland Express. On the SAR it was hauled by the huge 500 class Mountains, then Niagaras, black/green/silver, the "Paleface Monsters". The VR later used the R class Hudsons. From 1995 it did run on standard gauge as one of the last three long-distance trains of Australia and in 1997 the traction was taken over by National Rail. Great Southern Rail ist the operator of great passenger trains in Australia. In 2007 the Overland was converted into a daylight train, equipped with refurbished carriages.

The Overland
Adelaide - Melbourne, Australian National Railways/ PTC, standard gauge, arrival Melbourne, Feb.10, 1997:
Diesel CLP13S Australian National Railways
Tantini Sleeper (roomette, ex VR & SAR)
Yankai Sleeper (twinette, ex VR & SAR)
No.2 Club Car (ex VR & SAR)
4.BJ Economy (coach, ex VR & SAR)
1.RBJ Economy (coach/ cafeteria, ex VR & SAR)
10.BJ Economy (coach, ex VR & SAR)
HM Guard (ex Indian Pacific)
AMIZ (car transporter)
Colors: Locomotive light-green/yellow/silver, cars stainless/maroon, HM stainless, AMIZ dark-grey (photograph see chapter Travels).


Mann "Boudoir Car" 029 from 1886 for Melbourne - Adelaide services (VR)

Sleeper "Mount Lofty" from Pullman, USA, introduced in 1928 by VR, 1950 sold to SAR (coll. VR)

Overland Express (?) with two A2 tenwheelers of VR (Victorian Railways)



The Overland with class 500 Niagara (SAR)




Century train of S.A.R. with engine "Sir Winston Dugan" (Deutsches Museum)

De-luxe car of the "Great South Pacific Express" (QR)

On Queensland Railway and NSWGR a “Great South Pacific Express” was introduced in 1999, a de-Luxe tourist special with new wooden cars on old interchangeable freight bogies of QR, initiated by James Sherwood. It did run only until 2003. On the Cape gauge the traditional “Sunlander” Brisbane – Cairns got a faster competitor, the “Tilt Train”. From the intermediate station Townsville the “Inlander” departs for Mount Isa and at Cairns the tourists may take other Cape gauge trains for picturesque excursions.

In West Australia, Transwa introduced modern diesel railcar sets, the „Prospector“ running on the standard-gauge Trans Australian line from Perth to Kalgoorlie.

From Melbourne the Tasman island could be reached by steamer and there was the Cape-gauge "Boat Express" Launceston - Hobart, during the thirties even with a green streamlined class R Pacific. In 1977 this service ended. Tasmania is connectred by car-ferries (see www.ships-worldwide.com), but it has no longer any passenger train.

"Boat Express" of Tasmanian Government Rys., Pacific class R, no. 4, around 1937 (Deutsches Museum)


Tasman Limited around 1974 (Tasmanian Government Railways)



Melbourne Cup Special Melbourne – Sydney with cars of the Southern Aurora, Melbourne Nov.2,1999 (William Pearce)

Overland Melbourne – Adelaide, NR diesel and cars with Great Southern Railway label, Melbourne Spencer Street Station, Dec. 1997 (William Pearce)


XPT Olympic Spirit for Sydney, Melbourne Feb. 1997 (WS)




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