Great South Pacific Express - AustraliaGreat South Pacific Express - Australia
The Great South Pacific Express was a luxury Australian train service, run in by Queensland Rail and Venice-Simplon Orient Express.
Great South Pacific Express History
In December 1996, Queensland Rail announced it would enter a joint venture with Venice-Simplon Orient Express to operate a luxury tourist train between Kuranda (near Cairns) and Sydney. It commenced operating in April 1999. The train accommodated 100 passengers in up to 21 carriages, at a cost of $3,500 to $5,500 depending on type of accommodation. The train also made occasional excursions to Canberra, the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Region.
The service ceased in June 2003 having run up losses of around $12 million over four years.
After the demise of the service the carriages were sold to Orient-Express Hotels for an undisclosed price in 2005, for use on their trains overseas. 20 of the carriages remained in storage at the North Ipswich Railway Workshops, with Queensland Rail stating an Orient Express holding company owned them, while an Orient Express Hotels manager in London said they were still owned by Queensland Rail.
In 2013, the Queensland Government approached the Venice-Simplon Orient Express for permission to operate the remaining carriages on tours in Queensland.
In February 2016 the carriages were moved from the Workshops Rail Museum at Ipswich to the Port of Brisbane for shipment to Peru where they will be used by the Orient Express Hotels' succedessor Belmond and its partly-owned railroad company PeruRail. The train may enter in service in May 2017 as Belmond Andean Explorer to carry passengers from Cusco to Puno (at the Lake Titicaca) and to Arequipa.
Great South Pacific Express Rolling Stock
The 21 carriages were built at the Queensland Rail workshops in Townsville for $35 million. They were built to operate on both the narrow 1,067mm gauge in Queensland and standard 1,435mm gauge in New South Wales with the train undergoing a bogie exchange en-route at Acacia Ridge.
The train consisted sleeping cars in three different comfort levels (Pullman, State and Commissioner Suites), two dining cars, two bar cars (one of them with an open-air observation deck), a power car and staff sleepers. The entire train layout was designed similar to the Eastern and Oriental Express, but with a different interior style