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History of the CR

The Commonwealth Railways was born of a parliamentary act after commitments to the Western Australia Premier, that should Western Australia join the Federation of Australia, a line would be built connecting the Eastern and Western States. Although this commitment was given prior to federation in 1901, it was not until 1911 that work was authorised and the work commenced at Port Augusta on 14th September 1912. The line linking Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta was completed on 17th October 1917 and was built in standard gauge, four foot eight and a half inches. The East and West coasts were now linked,  and a third gauge had been introduced into South Australia To complete the journey from Sydney to Perth at least three changes of gauge were required.

On the 1st January 1926 the new Commonwealth Railways also took over responsibility for the railway services of the Central Australian Railway, previously known as The Great Northern Railway. At this time Quorn became a division point between the South Australian Railways and the Commonwealth Railways, with the SAR retaining control of the line from Peterborough to Quorn and the CR operating the line from Quorn both north to Oodnadatta and south to Port Augusta.

This was a direct result of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act of 1910, whereby the Commonwealth accepted responsibility for the completion of the line from South Australia to the Port of Darwin in the Northern Territory. A promise we have waited for almost 100 years to be kept.

The Commonwealth Railways classifications for rolling stock were:

Passenger Vehicles - Standard & Narrow Gauge

Wagon
Type

Class

1st
Class
Passen-
ger Car:

AB

ABP

AP

NABP

NABPA

NAP

ADH

NADH

AF- AFC

AFR

NAF

NAFA

AR- ARH

ARJ

ARL -ARM

NAR- NARC

NARG

NARP

ARP

NBHR

2nd
Class
Passen-
ger Car:

B-BD

NBP

NBPA

BM

NBR

NBRA

NBRE

NBRF

BR- BRH

BRI

BRP

BRPF

NBRP

ND- NDC

.

.

.

.

.

.

Dining
Car:

D-DF

NHR

NHRB

NHRG

.

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Mail
Sorting
Van:

E

.

.

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Passen-
ger
Brake
Van:

H

HGM

HM

HP

NHBR

HR-HRH

NMS

HRG- HRGC

NRC

NRCA

NRP

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Steam
Motor
Coach:

J

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Bulk
Mail
Van:

M

MA

NSS

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.

Hospital/
Ambu-
lance
Van:

O

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Special
Vehicles:

SS

SSA

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Freight Vehicles - Standard & Narrow Gauge

Wagon
Type

Class

Ballast
Wagon:

BS

BAS

BWS

NB

NBP

NBS -NBSB

B- BB

BP

BPA

BPS

BPWS

.

.

.

.

.

Cattle
Wagon:

C- CE

CBP

NC- NCE

NCS

NCR

NCY

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Employees
Accommod-
ation Van:

E- EI

ER

ES

NE- NEC

NEF

NEG

EDS

EX

NEI

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Refrigerator
Van:

F

FA

NF- NFC

NFS

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Open
Goods
Van:

G- GQ (no GI)

GRX

NG- NGJ(no NGI)

NGL

GS

GBX

GCX

GMX

NGS

NGAS- NGCS

GNX

GQX

GHA

NGSA- NGSD

.

.

Louvre
Van:

L- LF

LP

LS

NL- NLB

NLS

LX

LCX

LDX

LEX

O

OW

OWA

NO

NOA

NOS

.

Explosives
Van:

P

PA

NPS

NP

NPA

NPWS

.

.

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.

Heavey
Load
Wagon:

Q

QC

NQ

.

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Flat Top:

R- RP (no RI)

RT

NR- NRO (no NRI)

NRS

RGX

RLX

RMX

ROX

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Sheep:

S- SC

NS- NSB

NSS

.

.

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.

.

.

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.

.

.

.

.

Tank:

T

TB- TG

TJ

NTB

NTC

NTD

NTS

TK

TL

TSA

TSB

NTSA

NTSB

NTP

NTV

TH

Oil Tank
Wagon:

TOA- TOH

TOJ- TOK

NTO- NTOF

NTOS

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Weed
Spray
Wagon:

U

NU

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Covered
Goods
Van:

V- VD

VEX

VFX

VS

NV- NVE

NVS

NVSA

VX

VDB

VDM

VG

VP

VPA

W

WR

.

Goods
Brake
Vans:

YB

YS

YSB

NYAB

NYBA

X

XA

XB

XE

XR

XRA

XS

XSA

.

.

.

An explanation of these codes is as follows:

  • For narrow gauge rolling stock -  Prefix of ‘N’
  • The first letter of standard gauge wagons and the second letter of narrow gauge wagons represented the type of wagon
  • For Composite vehicles -   Suffix of ‘C’
  • For 4 wheeled stock -    Suffix of ‘S’
  • For wooden vehicles -   Suffix of ‘W’

The general rules for conversion from standard gauge to narrow gauge is simply to add a prefix ‘N’, the exceptions to this are:

  •       BRFA - NBRF
  •       D - NDB  * as ND already exists.
  •       SS - SS
  •       GD - NGJ
  •       RG - NRH
  •       RGB - NRG  * 4 wheel bogies
  •       RGB - NRK  * 6 wheel bogies
  •       RB - NRM
  •       R - NRJ
  •       RLX - NRP
  •       RP - NRN
  •       VD - NVE

Special conversions include:


      From narrow to standard gauge -

  •       Railcar: NDH  - DH
  •       Brake Van: NHRB - HRC
  •       Freight Wagons: NB - BA
  •       NCD - CD
  •       NSB - SB