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Economy

Transportation

Each Australian colony established its own rail network prior to becoming a state within the federation; as a result, the gauge varies from one state to another. A government-sponsored, Australia-wide program to standardize railroad gauges and privatize rail services was under way in the early 2000s. Construction also began on an extensive project to extend the central transcontinental line from Alice Springs to Darwin, thereby linking Adelaide in the far south with Darwin on the northern coast. Railroad lines total about 9,528 km (5,920 mi) of track.

Australia has about 810,200 km (about 503,435 mi) of roads. About 40 percent of the overall length is bitumen- or concrete-paved, including more than 16,000 km (more than 9,900 mi) of state highway. The capital cities are connected by inexpensive bus services. Some 601 motor vehicles are registered for every 1,000 people. A comprehensive network of airline services links major cities and even remote settlements. Domestic lines carry about 25 million passengers yearly. Because of the long distances between cities and the country’s ideal flying conditions, Australians are especially accustomed to air travel. Qantas Airways, Ltd., the country’s largest airline company, provides service to domestic and international locations. International airports are located near each of the mainland capitals and near Cairns and Townsville. Coastal and transoceanic shipping is vital to the Australian economy. Major ports include Melbourne, Sydney, and Fremantle (in Western Australia).

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