Far Western Line

From: Burnie To: Smithton & Stanley
Opened: 1913 (Burnie to Myalla), 1919 (Stanley to Irishtown), 1921 (Irishtown to Smithton), 1922 (Myalla to Wiltshire)
Closed: Smithton to Wiltshire - 1987, Stanley to Wiltshire - 1988, Burnie to Wiltshire section closed to traffic from 1996 to 1999, and from 2003 to present
Status: Intact but out of use. Lifted from Wiltshire
Ownership: The section from Burnie to Wiltshire is owned and managed by the state government
Total length: Burnie to Wiltshire - 80.3km; Wiltshire to Smithton - 25.6km; Wiltshire to Stanley - 8.8km

For the purposes of this page, we have adopted the definition and name used by Australian National from the 1980s to group the remaining operational sections of track in the area in a way that suited traffic patterns at the time. The origins, and earlier operation of the sections west of Wiltshire are detailed below, and this page should be read in conjunction with that covering the Irishtown to Trowutta line.

History

The lines west of Burnie have a convoluted history. The TGR extended its Western line from Burnie to Myalla in two stages in 1913. In 1919, an isolated line was opened from the Bass Strait port of Stanley, south to Trowutta to tap the timber and farming industries. Two years later, this line was extended from Irishtown Junction west to the major centre of Smithton. In 1922, the missing section from Myalla to Wiltshire was completed.

From the 1980s, the dominant traffic on the line was outbound logs from Black River (just east of Wiltshire) with some supporting traffic to/from Stanley for the King Island shipping service, and to/from Smithton for the local processing industry. In 1990 the two extremities of the line were closed due to dwindling traffic, and outbound logs and silica stone, and inbound fertiliser traffic at Wiltshire became the sole reason for the line. Changing requirements and politics of the log traffic saw the remainder of the line closed to traffic in 1996. In 1999, the privatised ATN decided to reopen the line, again for fertiliser and log traffic, with the latter including a new destination of Hampshire mill on the old Emu Bay Railway line, by then also under ATN ownership. Changes within ATN and its parent companies result in the line again being closed due to low traffic levels.

At present the line is intact and generally clear form Burnie to Wiltshire, but is not available to traffic.

Operation

Operations in the area have varied over the years depending on where locos and crews have been based, and also the dominant traffics. 

The train services are listed under the following headings in these working timetables:

From the 1980s, most services on the section were operated as return trips from Burnie or beyond depeding on the dominant traffic flows, a pattern that continued until the last services in 2003.

Route

From Burnie to Wynyard, the line closely follows the coastline of Bass Strait, for the majority of route between the main road and the water, before turning inland and passing through the south of Wynyard township.

From here the line continued generally westward along the Inglis River valley toward Flowerdale, before commencing the curvaceous climb in a south-westerly direction to the summit beyond Myalla. This sets the scene for the next few sections of the line, which descends to Hellyer (north/northwestrly direction), then again climbs to Mawbanna (westerly) before descending to Black River (almost northerly direction). These sections of the line pass through a mixture of farmland and forest. From Black River to Wiltshire, and then to Stanley the line passes through rough costal scrub and generally follows the line of the highway.

From Wiltshire the line first runs almost south, then west to Irishtown, and then north to Smithton. Proposals to rebuild the line in recent years have suggested a new alignment following the highway nearer the coast.

Branch lines and Junctions

Burnie - Junction for Western Line and Emu Bay Railway
Flowerdale - Junction for Preolenna Line
Wiltshire - Junction for Stanley Line
Irishtown - Junction for Trowutta Line
Smithton - Junction for Marrawah Tram

Time Table

From the 1957 Working Time Table

WTT extract 1 (Burnie to Stanley section)

WTT extract 2 (Stanley to Smithton section)

Other References

Return to Railway Lines Index


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