Southern & Silverton Rail

Southern & Silverton Rail
Industry Railway operator
Founded 1886
Defunct 2010s
Headquarters Broken Hill
Parent Qube Logistics

Southern & Silverton Rail was an Australian rail operator. Founded in 1886 as the Silverton Tramway Company, it operated the Silverton Tramway until 1970, before diversifying into operating hook and pull services, being renamed Silverton Rail in the mid-1990s. In 2006 it was purchased by South Spur Rail Services and rebranded as Southern & Silverton Rail, before both were sold to Coote Industrial. In June 2010 it was sold to Qube Logistics and rebranded.


Preserved Y1 at Sulphide Street Museum, Broken Hill in August 2009
Preserved W24 at Sulphide Street Museum, Broken Hill in August 2009

The Silverton Tramway Company was formed in 1886 to build and operate the Silverton Tramway, a 58-kilometre (36 mi) long 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) narrow gauge railway running from Cockburn on the New South Wales / South Australia state border to Broken Hill after the Government of New South Wales enacted into legislation the Silverton Tramway Act of 1886 that granted the Silverton Tramway Company the rights to build and operate a railway. It was headquartered in Melbourne, listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1897, later transferring to the Australian Securities Exchange.

The line the line opened on 12 January 1888. Initially using hired South Australian Railways Y class locomotives, until it received its own locomotives. By the end of 1888, it had concluded a deal for the South Australian Railways to operate the main line services with Silverton servicing the various mines and sidings in Broken Hill. On 1 July 1893, Silverton resumed operating mainline services.[1]

In August 1899, the New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) purchased the Tarrawingee Tramway. As it was isolated and to a different gauge from the rest of its operations, the NSWGR contracted Silverton to operate services until the line closed in 1931.[1]

Following a new 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge line being opened in February 1970 by the Federal Government, the line was made redundant and the company concentrated on operating shunting and track maintenance services to the mines industry in and around Broken Hill with its remaining two diesel locomotives.[2][3][4] Under the 1886 Act, the Government of New South Wales had an option to buy out the company for 21 times the annual divisible profits of the preceding seven years. Silverton calculated it was entitled to $5.8 million, but through legislation this was removed, the company having to settle for a $2 million payment.[5]

In 1969, the Dillingham Corporation of Honolulu bought a 33% shareholding, later increasing to 50%. In 1972, it was then taken over by T & G Mutual Life Assurance Society and delisted. It was included in the 1983 purchase of T & G Mutual by National Mutual, and in 1986 was sold in a management buyout to Graham Clements.[4]

Having purchased a number of locomotives from FreightCorp and AN Tasrail, in 1995/96 Silverton Rail leased six locomotives to National Rail for use on Adelaide to Melbourne services as bankers to Tailem Bend.[6][7] With the introduction of an open access regime in New South Wales the business was rebranded as Silverton Rail, and in August 1999 began operating iron ore services from Cobar to Narromine as a subcontractor to National Rail and relocated the majority of its fleet to Parkes Roundhouse.[8][9] In August 1999, it also began operating trip workings in Sydney.[10] In August 2000, Silverton began operating grain services from Nyngan to Sydney.[11]

In February 2006, Silverton Rail was sold to Western Australian-based South Spur Rail Services.[12] The locomotives and rolling stock were sold to the Allco Finance Group and leased back.[13] Silverton Rail was rebranded as Southern & Silverton Railway.[14] In March 2007, South Spur Rail Services was purchased by Coote Industrial.[15] Following Allco Finance running into financial trouble, Coote Industrial was able to buy much of the former Silverton rolling stock in January 2008 through controlled subsidiary Greentrains.[16] In June 2010 South Spur Rail Services was sold to P&O Trans Australia.[17][18]

In April 2011, Qube Logistics acquired outright control and majority ownership of P&O Trans Australia and Southern & Silverton Rail was rebranded.[19][20] Qube Logistics purchased New South Wales freight operator Independent Transport Group in June 2012.[21]


442s3 in the Silverton Rail livery introduced in May 1984

Silverton Tramway Company commenced operations with hired South Australian Railways Y class locomotives, before purchasing steam locomotives of the Y, A and W classes. In 1958 it purchased a second-hand Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. diesel shunter, and in 1960/61 three Alco DL531s.

In 1990, two ex Australian National 830 class were purchased from AN Tasrail followed in December 1994 by six 48 class and 442 class locomotives from FreightCorp.[22][23] Also purchased for parts were two 830s and three 48s.[22][24]

In June 2002 a 45 class locomotive was purchased from Great Northern Rail Services and returned to service as 45s1.[25] A former Genesee & Wyoming Australia 930 class had entered service with Silverton by August 2002 as 44s1 while two former FreightCorp 44 class entered service as 44s2 and 44s3.

In March 2003, twenty-four 80 class locomotives were purchased from FreightCorp with four returned to traffic. Around the same time nine C class locomotives were purchased from National Rail with seven placed in service and two sublet to Pacific National.[26] Other acquisitions were eight 85 and forty 86 class electric locomotives from FreightCorp.[27][28] All were scrapped without use.


  1. 1 2 McNicol, Steve (1981). Silverton Tramway Locomotives. Elizabeth Downs: Railmac Publications. p. 6. ISBN 0 959415 30 0.
  2. Progress in Rail Reform: Submission to the Productivity Commission Silverton Tramway Company
  3. "Silverton" Railway Digest July 1985 page 189
  4. 1 2 Roberts, Lew (1995). Rails to Wealth. Melbourne: Lew Roberts. ISBN 0 646 26587 3.
  5. Silverton Tramway Land Vesting Bill New South Wales Legislative Assembly 22 February 1972
  6. "Rail Authorities Face Loco Shortage" Railway Digest December 1995 page 16
  7. "South Australia" Railway Digest July 1996 page 37
  8. "Silverton Rail Update" Railway Digest October 1999 page 14
  9. "All Change for Cobar ore trains" Railway Digest March 2000 page 42
  10. "Silverton Rail" Railway Digest March 2001 page 21
  11. "And Now Silverton Starts Hauling Grain" Railway Digest September 2000 page 5
  12. Southern Spur takes over Silverton Rail Rail Express 1 March 2006
  13. Oberg, Leon (2007). Locomotives of Australia 1854-2007. Rosenberg Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 1-877058-54-8.
  14. Annual Report 30 June 2009 Coote Industrial
  15. South Spur Rail Services joins Coote Industrial WA Business News 26 March 2007
  16. Annual Report 30 June 2008 Coote Industrial
  17. Sale of South Spur Rail Services Business Coote Industrial 7 June 2010
  18. Coote sells South Spur sale for $16m BN Western Australia 7 June 2010
  19. History Qube Logistics
  20. "Corrigan on fast track with $106m ports deal". The Australian. 19 April 2011.
  21. Qube expands regional rail capacity Qube Logistics 7 June 2012
  22. 1 2 "Silverton" Railway Digest August 1990 page 286
  23. "State Rail's Locomotive Auction Results" Railway Digest January 1995 page 36
  24. "Silverton Rail Loco Transfer" Railway Digest January 2000 page 36
  25. 45s1
  26. C Class diesel electric locomotives Mark Bau's VR website
  27. 85 Class Vicsig
  28. 86 Class Vicsig
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