Wynyard Airport Railway Crossing
DCA Merlin III VH-CAM - click here for another view

Wynyard Airport, on Tasmania's north-western coast, was quite unusual in that it was one of the few airports in the world to have a railway crossing on a runway.

The railway, running along Tasmania's north coast, was extended to Smithton in 1921. The line, running through Wynyard, was extensively used for haulage by the timber industry and to transport farm produce.

During the late 1930s when the aerodrome at Wynyard was constructed, it was built on the only flat land in the area - the flood plain of the Inglis River. When properly formed runways were constructed, Runway 05/23 was built over the railway line. There was a precedent for this: Sydney's Mascot airport also had a railway line crossing a runway in the early post-War years.

The photo above shows DCA Merlin VH-CAM posed on the gravel end of Runway 23 for a 1971 photo shoot supporting an article about the railway crossing.


The diagram above from the 15 March 1968 Landing Chart shows the airport layout with the rail crossing highlighted. Interestingly, the chart contains a note (not shown) that the runway lights on the northern side of Runway 08/26 can be confused with parallell street lights (Runway 05/23 was not lit for night flying).

The need to accommodate higher performance aircraft and lack of space to lengthen the main east-west runway led to a new runway, 09/27, being constructed on a more southerly alignment, as shown in the diagram below from the 2 October 2003 Aerodrome Chart. Note that the remains of the old Runway 08/26 are now a taxiway and that the railway crossing at the threshold of Runway 23 was unaffected, although the runway was slightly lengthened at the south-western end and sealed for most of its length. The southern grass landing area has disappeared altogether.

Declining rail traffic forced the closure of the north-western branch line in early 2005 and thus the Wynyard airport rail crossing is no more.

Click here to read about how the Wynyard railway crossing was controlled

(Photo: CAHS collection # 1646/71
Landing Chart: DCA/CAHS collection
Aerodrome Chart: Airservices Australia/CAHS collection)

Back to the main Airports and Aerodromes index

Back to the main Air Traffic Services index

If this page appears without a menu bar at top and left, click here