Eastern Goldfields Railway

The Eastern Goldfields Railway was built in the 1890s by the Western Australian Government Railways to connect Perth with the Eastern Goldfields at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.[1]

Eastern Goldfields Railway
Prospector, Kellerberrin, 2014.JPG
The Prospector at Kellerberrin with the Goldfields water pipeline in the foreground & the CBH grain receival point in the background
OwnerPublic Transport Authority
Operator(s)Arc Infrastructure
1 July 1894: opened Northam to Southern Cross1 July 1896: opened Southern Cross to Boorabbin
1 January 1897: opened Boorabbin to Kalgoorlie
February 1966: Bellevue to Northam added gauge and changed route
1968: Northam to Kalgoorlie, replaced narrow gauge with standard gauge and changed route
Line length373 kilometres
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
dual gauge
Old gauge3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)


Eastern Goldfields Railway
Northam-Goomalling railway
Grass Valley
Livesey Crossing
Hines Hill
Bruce Rock-Merredin railway
West Merredin
Merredin-Wyalkatchem railway
Narrogin-Kondinin-Merredin railway
Nulla Nulla
Moorine Rock
Southern Cross-Wyalkatchem railway
Southern Cross
Lake Julia
Koolyanobbing East
Bonnie Vale
West Kalgoorlie
Leonora Branch Line

The Eastern Railway opened in stages from Perth to Northam in the 1890s, and the Eastern Goldfields Railway extended this line through semi-desert to the Eastern Goldfields.[2][3]

It opened in stages between 1894 and 1897.[4]

  • Northam to Southern Cross: 175 miles 14 chains (281.9 km) (opened 1 July 1894)
  • Southern Cross to Boorabbin: 60 miles 55 chains (97.7 km) (opened 1 July 1896)
  • Boorabbin to Kalgoorlie: 78 miles 14 chains (125.8 km) (opened 1 January 1897)

The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme pipeline was later constructed along the railway line. The chief engineer for both the railway and the pipeline was C. Y. O'Connor.

In October 1917, the Commonwealth Railways' standard gauge Trans-Australian Railway from Port Augusta was completed through to Kalgoorlie, making it a break-of-gauge station.


At Kalgoorlie, lines branch off north to Malcolm and Leonora; and south to Esperance via the Esperance line. The Malcolm-Laverton branch was last used in 1957 and closed in 1960.[5][6][7]

Gauge conversionEdit

As part of the Federal Government's program to build a standard gauge line across Australia and the passing of the Railways (Standard Gauge) Construction Act 1961, work commenced on gauge converting the line to dual gauge with a new alignment further north of the existing line built between Southern Cross and Kalgoorlie.[when?] From Northam to Southern Cross, the railway was also realigned to reduce the number of road crossings, increase the minimum radius of curvature and lower the ruling gradient to 1:150.

The new alignment, as well as being generally straighter and more favourably graded, provided access to the iron ore deposits at Koolyanobbing, which were shipped by rail to Kwinana, near Perth, to supply Australian Iron and Steel's blast furnace.[4][8][9][10]

The first official standard gauge iron ore train from Koolyanobbing arrived at Kwinana on 10 July 1967. On 3 August 1968, the Koolyanobbing-Kalgoorlie section opened for freight trains and on 4 November 1968, the first through freight train from Port Pirie arrived in Perth.[11][12]


In November 2005, funding was announced to extend eight crossing loops to accommodate 1,800-metre-long (5,900 ft) trains at Bodallin, Darrine, Wallaroo, Lake Julia, Grass Valley, Bungulla, Booraan and Seabrook, and replace the final 76 kilometres (47 mi) of timber sleepers with concrete sleepers.[13]


Transwa's MerredinLink and Prospector services from Perth to Merredin and Kalgoorlie traverse the line[14] as does Journey Beyond's Indian Pacific to Sydney. Other named trains to previously use the line were The Westland, The Kalgoorlie and the Trans-Australian.

Intrastate and interstate freight services are operated by Aurizon, Mineral Resources, Pacific National and SCT Logistics. CBH Group operate grain trains.


  1. ^ Souvenir brochure 60th anniversary celebrations of the opening of the railway to Coolgardie 23 March 1896, [Coolgardie], 1956, retrieved 5 March 2012
  2. ^ Searle, M. J. (January 1983), "The Eastern and Eastern Goldfields Railways [Series of parts] Part 1: construction and opening", RIM: Western Australian Railways Institute Magazine, 80 (Jan 1983): 3–8, retrieved 5 March 2012
  3. ^ Searle, M. J. (February 1983), "The Eastern and Eastern Goldfields Railways [Series of parts] Part 2. – Constructions of extensions-", RIM: Western Australian Railways Institute Magazine, 80 (Feb 1983): 2–3, 5–6, retrieved 5 March 2012
  4. ^ a b Newland, Andrew; Quinlan, Howard (2000). Australian Railway Routes 1854 – 2000. Redfern: Australian Railway Historical Society. pp. 63, 67. ISBN 0-909650-49-7.
  5. ^ "Railways (Cue-Big Bell and Other Railways) Discontinuance" (PDF). State Law Publisher. Perth, WA: Department of the Premier and Cabinet. 1960. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Station Master's House (fmr), Laverton". inHerit Our Heritage Places. Perth, WA: State Heritage Council. 27 February 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  7. ^ Brookfield Rail Network Map Brookfield Rail
  8. ^ Webb Report 1976 Australian Transport Research Forum
  9. ^ History of Rail in Australia Department of Infrastructure & Regional Development
  10. ^ Carpenter, Alan John (24 November 2005). "BHP Billiton (Termination of Agreements) Agreement Bill 2005". Hansard. Perth, WA: Parliament of Western Australia. Retrieved 5 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Standard Gauge Railway Project Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR)" (PDF). Perth, WA: State Library of Western Australia. 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  12. ^ Brady, Ian (June 1971). "A Brief History of Standard Gauge in Australia". Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin. Australian Railway Historical Society. XXII (404): 98–120.
  13. ^ Western Australia to Receive Additional Australian Government Rail Funding Federal Minister for Transport 24 November 2005
  14. ^ Timetables Archived 2 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine Transwa