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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)

The Fateful Issue

The Fateful Issue.

The other Colonies resented this action, holding that the New South Wales Government, without having first obtained the concurrence of the other Governments, was not warranted in abruptly changing the gauge, which had been generally adopted throughout the Australian Colonies. Following upon this the Governor of Victoria transmitted a memorial from the Legislature to Earl Grey, praying that Her Majesty's consent to the New South Wales proposals be withheld. The gauge question having been re-opened, Earl Grey instructed the Governor of New South Wales to move the Legislature to reconsider the question for the sake of the neighbouring Colonies with which railway communication must sooner or later be effected. The Governor therefore transmitted to the Legislative Council a measure entitled “A Bill to repeal the Act for regulating the gauge of Railways.” But railway companies had, in the meantime, been formed in Victoria and South Australia, and these companies, relying upon the Railway Gauge Act of 1852, had adopted the 5ft. 3in. gauge and ordered from England rolling stock to the cost of #100,000. Such large sums having been invested in stock, neither side would give way, and as the Legislative Council did not proceed with the Bill for the altering of the gauge, the break was firmly established in Australia.

page 12

Victoria has since adhered to the 5ft. 3in. gauge, while South Australia adopted two gauges, viz.:—5ft. 3in. and 3ft. 6in. Queensland and Western Australia adopted (for economical reasons), the 3ft. 6in. gauge, while the Commonwealth, although it adopted the 4ft. 8 ½in. as the standard, is actually constructing the South-North Railway through the centre of Australia, from Port Augusta to Port Darwin to the 3ft. 6in. gauge.