The rumblings of Tasmania’s “luxury passenger train” the Tasman Limited will be remembered today, marking 40 years since the service was axed.
Tasman Limited started in 1954 running from Hobart to Launceston to Wynyard, with 26 stops in between, and ended on July 28, 1978.
Don River Railway chief executive Niels Brun said the patriarchal, eight-hour train service allowed Tasmanians, especially those living in regional areas, to travel and see other places in the state.
“It was very well patronised in the ‘50s and ‘60s and then of course by the 1970s everyone was traveling in cars and the train became unnecessary,” Mr Brun said.
“Travellers might have been living in Tunbridge and got on the train to go to Launceston or Hobart, which meant they weren’t isolated. It was a great thing back in the day,” he said.
“A lot of our members have fond memories, because it was not just a train service. It was very comfortable, there was a buffet car to get something to eat, and people really enjoyed the trip. It was considered the state’s great luxury passenger train.”
During its most popular time the train is believed to have carried up to 200 passengers, but towards its end, numbers dwindled to around 15 passengers per trip.
Mr Brun said the train had different name boards for different trips.
“The train used to carry a name board, so the Hobart to Launceston was called the Tamar and the Launceston to Wynyard was called the Table Cape, but going Wynyard to Launceston it was called the Launcestonian, and when it left for Hobart, it changed to the Derwent,” Mr Brun said.,
“You wouldn’t want to be driving the Launcestonian into Hobart, you would probably get shot!”
Former Tasman Limited passenger Toni-Anne Carroll used the service from Burnie to attend university in Hobart, and speaks fondly of the train hostess “Carol” who worked the Wynyard to Western Junction line.
“Carol was famous for her commentary, everyone used to mimic it. She was a bit of a character, and I understand she had been working on the train for many years,” she said.
Dr Carroll’s most vivid memory of the train was when it derailed near Campbell Town, when passengers were loaded onto a bus, driven across paddocks and fed at the Campbell Town pub, before being driven to Hobart.
“I was 19 and it was my first year of uni … there was no warning, just a massive thud and over we went. I went flying from my window seat.”
Don River Railway is running a Tasman Limited commemorative train service on July 28 from 9am.