With Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions announcement today that all their passenger trains will be suspended and the ongoing uncertainty over the future of the Victorian Government’s subsidy, it is possible that the last Overland rail passenger service has run between Melbourne and Adelaide.
The subsidy has only been guaranteed until the end of this month and the at this late stage, and with other issues currently being addressed by the Victorian Government, it appears unlikely that it will be renewed in that time frame.
The suspension of these trains will apply until 31 May 2020 at the earliest, which is after the expiry of the current subsidy, so it is uncertain if this train will resume at this time or will quietly disappear.
Above - possibly the last Adelaide-bound Overland disappearing into the distance after departing Nhill at 13.43 on the afternoon of Saturday 21 March 2020.
The service began running as the Intercolonial Express in January 1887 as the first train to link colonial capitals without a break of gauge.
Later known as the Adelaide Express or the Melbourne Express depending upon which direction a particular train was travelling, it was renamed as the Overland in 1936.
For decades it ran as a daily overnight train in each direction, in recent years the frequency of the service was reduced to the current twice-weekly return trips between the two cities.
Update - 10 am Monday 23 March - We have received reports this morning that the Melbourne-bound Overland has departed Adelaide on schedule, so there will be at least one more service in each direction since this article was written.