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Rail Passes in Australia

'The Overland' train headed for Adelaide Refurbished 'The Overland' train headed for Adelaide, near Geelong, Victoria, Australia - Marcus Wong Wongm

Australian passenger trains are operated mainly by separate state railway systems, with intercity passenger services provided by the separate lines based in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. In addition, a separate company, Great Southern Rail, operates Australia’s three top long-haul trains, the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth, the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin, and the Overland between Melbourne and Adelaide. Although Great Southern Rail continues to operate these trains, it canceled its former Explorer Pass as of August 2015, leaving just two less comprehensive state-system passes.

Queensland Rail

Queensland Rail operates a series of trains aimed, at least in part, at visitors. The system’s main line extends along the coast from Brisbane in the South to Cairns in the North, with three branch lines running inland from coastal points. The mainline trains include the Spirit of Queensland, operating the entire length of the line, the conventional Spirit of the Outback between Brisbane and Longreach (inland) via Rockhampton, and the high-tech Tilt Train between Brisbane and Rockhampton. The system offers two pass options:

  • Queensland Explorer provides unlimited economy class travel throughout the system, at $A299 (about $US215) for one month, $A389 for two months.
  • Queensland Coastal Pass provides unlimited stopovers in one direction on the coastal route between Brisbane and Cairns, at $A209 for one month, $A289 for two months.

Check queenslandrailtravel.com.au/TradeToolbox/Products/Pages/default.aspx for more information.

NSW TrainLink

The New South Wales rail system operates a primarily in-state network centered on Sydney. The busiest route is probably between Sydney and Canberra, but the network extends north and south along the coast as well as inland. NSW trains also provide limited interstate service from Sydney to Brisbane and Melbourne. Its Discovery Pass provides unlimited system wide travel, in both economy and premium classes, at fares ranging from $A232 for 14 days in economy to $550 for six months in premium class. Check nswtrainlink.info/deals/travel_passes/discovery for more information.

Ed Perkins, editor

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