Duty, Debt and Picket Lines: the Queensland Railway Department during the First World War


Duty, Debt and Picket Lines: the Queensland Railway Department during the First World War (4441 KB) pdf document icon


Shiels, R.


Shiels, R. 2020. Duty, Debt and Picket Lines: the Queensland Railway Department during the First World War. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Culture 11, p. 39–56. https://doi.org/10.17082/j.2205-3239.11.1.2020.2020-04

Date published

June 2020




railway, workshops, munitions, patriotic fund, war, union


The Queensland Railway Department, also known as the Queensland Government Railways or QGR, was one of the state’s largest civil contributors to Queensland’s war effort. The department’s resources would be utilised by both the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments to meet the demands of enlistment quotas, armaments production and moving military personnel and equipment across the state. Throughout the war years QGR would be impacted by falling revenues due to the state’s expectation of network expansion, skyrocketing prices for essential goods, Royal Commissions and the strengthening of trade unions. The Railway Department’s experience of war was challenging in that so much of their operation and business assets became an integral part to the nation’s war effort virtually overnight. On an individual level, one sixth of the department’s workforce enlisted to fight in the war and although at times different groups within the railways were working towards different agendas, the department as a whole came together to support their railway brothers through extensive fundraising initiatives such as the Railway Patriotic Fund