The Melba Line is a 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) narrow-gauge railway on the West Coast of Tasmania. The line was originally constructed as a private railway line named the Emu Bay Railway and was one of the longest-lasting and most successful private railway companies in Australia. While at present the line travels from Burnie to Melba Flats, it previously ran through to Zeehan carrying minerals and passengers as an essential service for the West Coast community.
The Melba Line at Rosebery
|Locale||West Coast, Tasmania|
Melba Flats (current)
|Opened||1 February 1878 (1st stage)|
21 December 1900 (in full)
|Owner||Government of Tasmania|
|Line length||130 km (81 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) (after relaying)|
|Highest elevation||670 m (2,200 ft)|
In the 1870s, the Van Diemen's Land Company engaged John C. Climie to undertake a survey of a line from near Burnie to Mount Bischoff. On 1 February 1878 a 71 kilometres (44 mi), horse drawn wooden tramway opened from Emu Bay (Burnie) to Rouse’s Camp, near Waratah to serve the Mount Bischoff tin mines. In 1887, the line was taken over by the Emu Bay to Mount Bischoff Railway Company and relaid with steel rails as 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge railway line to allow steam locomotives to operate. In 1897 the Emu Bay Railway Company took over the line, extending it 60 kilometres to Zeehan on 21 December 1900.
Following the opening of the Murchison Highway, the line was closed between Rosebery and Zeehan in August 1965. After being sold in 1967 to EZ Industries, the line was upgraded to carry heavier trains and in January 1970 reopened from Rosebery to Melba Flats. During the construction of the Pieman River hydro electric scheme in the late 1970s the line was diverted in places and new bridges were built.
The Melba Line was included in the October 1984 sale of EZ Industries to North Broken Hill Peko, which in 1988 merged with CRA Limited to form Pasminco. In 1989 an 11 kilometre branch opened from Moorey Junction to serve Aberfoyle’s Hellyer Mine. On 22 May 1998, the line was sold by Pasminco to the Australian Transport Network and integrated into its Tasrail business. In February 2004 it was included in the sale of Tasrail to Pacific National and in September 2009 to the government owned TasRail.
At its peak as a steam operation the railway had approximately 23 stopping or named places (including names for watering locations and other passenger operation related points) on its line and adjacent lines:
- Pigeon Hill
- Wey River Bridge
- Guildford - junction to the Mount Bischoff tin mine
- Muddy Creek
- Farrell Junction with the North Mount Farrell Tramway to Tullah, now known as the Wee Georgie Wood Railway
- Barkers Crossing
- Renison Bell
- Argent Tunnel
- Melba Flats
- Rayna Junction - junction with the Maestris or Mount Dundas – Zeehan Railway
- TASMANIA. HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY. TRAMWAY : (No. 90.) Report on Survey of proposed by Mr. J. C. Climie, CE. laid upon the Table by the Minister of Lands, and ordered by the House to be printed, 16 August 1882
- Fenton, James (1884). The History of Tasmania From its Discovery in 1642 to the Present Time. p. 391.
- "Railway from Emu Bay to Mount Bischoff". Sydney Morning Herald. 1 August 1887 – via Google News.
- "Emu Bay Railway Company Annual Meeting". The Age. 30 March 1901 – via Google News.
- Oberg, Leon (2010). Locomotives of Australia 1850s-2010. Dural: Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 109, 330. ISBN 9781921719011.
- "Emu Bay Railway Act 1965". Government of Tasmania. 22 June 1965.
- "Emu Bay". The Age. 23 August 1968 – via Google News.
- "ATN grabs Emu Bay". The Examiner. 7 April 1998.
- "Tasrail to take over Emu Bay Railway". Railway Digest. May 1998. p. 16.
- Tranz Rail Holdings (22 May 1998). "ATN Officially Adds Emu Bay Rail Operation to Its Tasrail Business" (Press release) – via PRNewswire.
- "Emu Bay Railway (Operations & Acquisition Act) 2009". Government of Tasmania. 27 October 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Melba Line.|
- Along the Line in Tasmania. Book 2. Private Lines. Traction Publications. 1972. ISBN 0-85829-003-0.
- Atkinson, H.K. (1991). Railway Tickets of Tasmania. ISBN 0-9598718-7-X.
- Blainey, Geoffrey (2000). The Peaks of Lyell (6th ed.). Hobart: St. David's Park Publishing. ISBN 0-7246-2265-9.
- Lou Rae (1997). The Emu Bay Railway. ISBN 0-9592098-6-7.
- Manny, L.B. (1961) The Emu Bay Railway Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, November 1961