Adelaide Fantasy Rail Map 2050

(And South Australia)

I have a long-held and controversial opinion for someone from the eastern states: I love Adelaide.

Ever since I began my frequent visits in 2010, this beautiful, quiet and oft-maligned city has grown on me immensly.

It also has a large passenger rail network for an Australian city of its size (six lines and 89 stations).

However, when South Australia gave control of its non-metropolitan rail network to the Commonwealth Government in 1978, this triggered a steady decline in the number of freight and passenger operations across the state.

Today, there are no revenue passenger rail trains in operation in South Australia other than Adelaide Metro and four of Australia’s five interstate services.

This map assumes that all of that changes over the next few decades. I am not saying that any of this is necessarily likely or desireable – just a random thought experiment.

The Network

So – what would you do with an unlimited bucket of money in Adelaide and South Australia?

I’ve had a go at what I think it could look like by 2050.

Some of the changes include:

  • Rationalised or moved stations into other locations
  • Expanded the light rail network from two lines to eight
  • Reopened four regional passenger lines
  • Extended the Seaford Line to Adlinga
  • Extended the Tonsley Line to Noarlunga (yes I’m aware of the massive hills in the way)
  • Renamed some stations to improve legibility (happy to argue about these as I suspect this might be controversial)
  • Returned interstate passenger rail to Adelaide Station

I could go into a lot more detail about these points or why I have or haven’t included certain things. However, as this is primarily a map and not a detailed transport plan, I’ll leave it to answering individual questions if required rather than publishing some sort of lengthy report. You can contact me here or on Twitter or Facebook.

The Map

To start, I did some research on South Australia’s rail history. On my most recent visit to Adelaide I had a wonderful few hours exploring the National Railway Museum, which I would highly recommend to both transport enthusiasts and non-gunzels alike. While the coverage of the Museum is obviously countrywide, it does focus on South Australia. I learned a lot at this time which I hope is reflected in this map.

My next step was to do some quick analysis and geographic mapping to sort out the future network.

One of the issues with many fantasy networks is that they don’t take into account essential features of the urban landscape like density, likely trip generators or growth areas. Obviously there has to be some flexibility with an imaginary plan many decades into the future, but I do think it’s important to keep the basics of urban and transport planning firmly in the back of the mind when designing these sorts of things.

If you would like to see my effort at doing this, the Google Map showing the network in geographic form is here. Note that there may be a few discrepancies between the final map and this one.

Future Development

As always, if you have any feedback or suggestions for improvement, please let me know.