Moving Cars by Rail

Moving cars by rail here in Australia has undergone a massive change over the years.

Back in the days of steam there were no specialised wagons. New cars being shipped by rail from the plant in one state to the distribution centre in other states would be loaded onto basic flat wagons.

There was nothing fancy … just two or three vehicles to a wagon lashed down with chains.

Then came double deck wagons that could carry twice the number of vehicles. At first the sides of these wagons were open but later the sides were covered to provide added protection.

And the vehicles … especially those at the front of the train … needed protection.

Back in the mid-1970s I spent a few months working for the NSW Datsun distributor. New vehicles were shipped up by rail from the plant in Melbourne and were moved from the unloading point to the distribution centre in Auburn by truck.

You could always tell which cars had been located at the front of the train and you could always tell which vehicles were located at the front of the front wagon because they were often covered in dirt and there was always a lot of paint damage.

The paint damage was caused by tiny pieces of the brake blocks from the loco that came off during braking and were picked up by the air flow and thrown back onto those vehicles in the front wagon.

Those tiny pieces were extremely hot and burnt into the duco on the vehicles at the front.

Obviously it wasn’t an ideal situation … the expense of repairing brand new cars that needed a lot of expensive paintwork before they could be sold was an expense no one wanted … but there were few alternatives back then.

Since then moving cars by rail has become almost a thing of the past. Road transport is now the way most new vehicles are shipped around the eastern states but rail isn’t entirely out of the loop.

A new system that has been introduced by Toll may see moving cars by rail make a comeback.