Fruits of Federation - The Grafton to Brisbane Uniform Gauge Railway & Clarence River Bridge (BOOK)
In the few years after World War I the differing railway gauges of Australia's states became a national scandal and Prime Minister Billy Hughes called a Royal Commission into how Australia's railway gauges could be made uniform.
The Royal Commission offered sensible advice but the premiers little but obstruction. Only New South Wales and Queensland were willing to participate in the Commonwealth's plans. So little came of the grand plans for unifying Australia's railway gauges, except the Grafton to Brisbane Uniform Gauge Railway.
Many people struggled to build the railway until it opened in 1930, including politicians who were more national-minded than most; engineers who believed utterly in their ability to carve the line through difficult terrain; and the ordinary people whose hard work turned the plans into reality. At the same time as the railway was being cut through the rainforest, the Clarence River Bridge was built to complete the new, shorter and faster link between Sydney and Brisbane.
This is the story of the railway up to the present. In some ways its use has changed a lot, as freight traffic has replaced passengers as its big earner, traction has changed from steam to diesel, and trains have become bigger. In many ways, though, the railway has not changed enough, and remains inadequate and slow because of its too-economical construction.