Australian Rail Operations

7GP1 Passing Nelungaloo Silo

Since the deregulation of the Australian Railways in the 1990’s, many private operators have sought to make a profit from hauling a variety of traffic within the country. From express interstate freight, to heavy bulk minerals and high-end luxury passenger trains, rail continues to play a major role in the nation’s economy.

Some operators have blossomed from former government owned monopolies, whilst other companies have started with only a small handful of operational assets, typically long past their economical shelf life and sold by their original owners.

This series of pages doesn’t intend on being the authority on the complete history of these businesses, instead looking to provide a brief overview to those who might be unfamiliar with the various companies or their histories.


Despite the proliferation of many smaller operators, only a small handful have dominated the national rail market, often with offices and contracts in many states across the country. With contracts with customers being fluid, often former small businesses can rise to national importance seemingly overnight. This category includes businesses operating across multiple states including Aurizon, Pacific National, SCT Logistics and CFCL Australia.

National Rail Operators Page.

Passenger (Coming Soon)

Aside from the luxury interstate passenger trains operated by Journey Beyond Rail, each state maintains their own metropolitan and regional passenger operations (occasionally crossing state borders). Some of these remain owned and operated by their state governments whilst others have been handed to private operators in varying degrees. This category includes operators such as Sydney Trains, V/Line and Queensland Rail.

Hook-And-Pull (Coming Soon)

A number of companies have chosen to break the state-based monopolies of the larger operators by purchasing their own locomotives and rolling stock and then tendering them out to established operators to run on the customers behalf. Such examples include Fletchers International Exports, Centennial Coal and Manildra Group.

Fallen Flags (Coming Soon)

Over the years the competition within the industry has been a constant threat to the continuing health of some operators. Whilst some smaller operators have been little more than a blip in the history of the nations transport task, other larger operators across multiple states have either succumbed to a takeover bid or instead fallen into history under the weight of unsustainable debt.

The Money Train