Freight Rail, Heritage, Passenger Rail

Heritage over the harbour

Australia’s most beloved steam train, Locomotive 3801, has crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the first time.

Transport, Veterans and Western Sydney minister David Elliott said this was a once-in-a-lifetime event that delighted railway enthusiasts and the community alike.

“Seeing this iconic steam train cross one of the world’s most famous structures is an experience like no other – no other train can transport you back to the golden age of rail travel quite like 3801,” he said.

“Not only has this been a journey back in time to celebrate our rich transport history, it also allows us to reflect on how we’ll continue to honour our heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.”

Locomotive 3801 made its north-bound crossing from Central Station, travelling across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, weaving its way down to Lavender Bay, where it paused for people to enjoy, before continuing its round trip back to Central.

Regional Transport and Regional Roads minister Sam Farraway said it was exciting to see 3801 in Sydney, following its successful return to passenger service in regional NSW last year.

“When first introduced in 1943, 3801 delivered a new level of service and connected communities across the State more efficiently and with style,” he said.

“In 2021 when 3801 was relaunched into service, it lifted spirits and put smiles on people’s faces as it travelled right across regional NSW.”

Transport Heritage chief executive officer Andrew Moritz said the event was a testament to the passion and dedication of generations of rail fans.

“This magnificent engine has been in preservation far longer than when it was in commission with the NSW Government Railways,” he said.

“We’re proud to have partnered with the NSW Government to bring this iconic locomotive back to life here in Sydney and can’t wait to see everyone enjoying a ride next weekend at the Transport Heritage Expo.”

When 3801 first launched in 1943, it instantly changed the image of the NSW Railways with its streamlined art-deco style. 3801 made its first journey in 1943 and operated as an express passenger locomotive and later as a freight locomotive until being formally withdrawn from service in 1962.

It won the hearts and minds of communities across the country being the only steam engine to travel to every mainland city in Australia, among many other feats.