Railways in the Monaro
Over 100 years of rich railway history
The Queanbeyan to Bombala railway line is a standard gauge NSW Railways branch line in Southern NSW, extending from Queanbeyan south to the terminus at Bombala.
Construction on the line commenced in 1884 with Johnstone and Co. contracted to build the section between Bungendore and Michelago. The line was opened to Queanbeyan in September 1887, followed a few months later by the extension to Michelago in December 1887.
In August 1885, Walker & Swan commenced construction on the section between Michelago and Cooma which included a tunnel at Colinton and several major bridges, most notably, the bridge over the Numeralla River and flood plain. Cooma station officially opened in May 1889.
Following the completion of the line to Cooma, the line was slowly extended south, reaching Nimmitabel in 1912 but due to lack of funds during the First World War, work on the extension further south to Bombala was suspended before finally being completed in November 1921.
Originally servicing the rich sheep farming areas of south-east NSW, patronage on the line slowly declined with the increased popularity and economic viability of road transport. In 1986, services were withdrawn from the section between Cooma and Bombala and 3 years later, after flood damage to bridges at Chakola, services were suspended from the remainder of the line.
To celebrate the centenary of Cooma Railway Station, the line was temporarily re-opened to allow a special steam train tour to travel through to Cooma, although passengers were transferred to road busses between Bredbo and Cooma, due to the safety concerns of the Chakola bridge.
For over 30 years, the Cooma Monaro Railway Inc. (CMR) have been custodians of the Cooma Railway Station, associated railway precincts and 20km of rail corridor.
Up until 2014, CMR operated a successful heritage railway museum including the popular tourist train rides between Cooma and the small village of Chakola to the north using a fleet of heritage CPH Railmotors.
In 2014, due to the deteriorating condition of the railway infrastructure, CMR suspended its railway and museum operations and commenced an internal restructure to strengthen both its corporate and operational governance, allowing the organisation to recommence operations in a more planned and sustainable manner and improve its heritage railway product offering.