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Rail transport was the main means of shipping service personnel and military equipment around the country.
However, Australian railways were not up to the demands of war. Each state used a different gauge, much of the rolling stock was unsuited for the task, and not until early 1943 was rail transport centrally organised.
And yet the demand for quick and efficient means of transport only increased as coastal shipping was diverted for use by the armed forces or reduced by loses to enemy action.
The rail network in Queensland was closest to the fighting. In 1942 the army had effective control of transport in northern Queensland. This led to the Queensland Railways Commissioner and the federal Minister for Transport clashing with the Minister for the Army, a dispute only solved through the Prime Minister’s intervention.
By the end of the war hundreds of thousands of Australian and Allied soldiers, and even enemy prisoners, had travelled millions of kilometres on Australian trains.
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