1970: The Inaugural Coast-to-Coast Trip of an Australian Train

February 23, 1970

The Indian Pacific passenger train began its inaugural coast-to-coast trip in Australia. After what the Canberra Times called “a glittering lace-gowned ceremony,” the westbound train left Central Railway Station in Sydney on Australia’s southeastern coast along the Pacific Ocean at 10:50 p.m.  “Train Sets Out to Span the Continent,” proclaimed a headline in the next day’s edition of the Sydney Morning Herald. The dignitaries on board the Indian Pacific for this maiden trip included Sir Paul Hasluck, Australia’s governor-general from 1969 to 1974.

The Indian Pacific fell behind schedule by two to three hours during the first two-thirds of its journey towards the city of Perth on Australia’s southwestern coast along the Indian Ocean. The train, however, made up for this lost time during the final stretch of the trip in the state of Western Australia. The Indian Pacific arrived in Perth on the morning of February 26. The trip, which took 65.5 hours altogether to complete, set a new record for train travel on the route of 2,704.2 miles (4,352 kilometers) between both cities.  

The Indian Pacific continues to operate between Sydney and Perth, and it has the distinction of being one of the world’s few transcontinental trains. In addition, a 297-mile (478-kilometer) section of the train’s route within the Nullarbor Plain contains the longest stretch of non-curved railroad track in the world.

Photo Credit: Dietmar Rabich (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike International license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)

For more information on the Indian Pacific passenger train, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Pacific

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