We hold employee records for the South Australian Railways, State Transport Authority and successor agencies.

You can expect to find high level registers or employee sheet records on individuals. Sometimes there are also files in correspondence series for the relevant department. Comprehensive personnel files are rarely held.

There is a large number of record series for railway employees which do not have an index. A current volunteer project is aiming to improve the arrangement of one of these major series.

For other government employment pages, see Police, Mariners and sailors and Teachers.

Access conditions

Records containing personal, financial or disciplinary information are typically available for general public access after 60 years.

Less detailed records about employees may be open sooner.

Researching the records

Railway employee records have been archived to both State Records and the National Archives of Australia, depending on the era in which the archiving was completed.

Series IDs starting with a GRG or a GRS were originally archived to State Records, and series information can be found in our ArchivesSearch  catalogue .

Series IDs starting with a D prefix were originally located at the National Archives of Australia. These series may be in our custody but not yet on our catalogue.

Staff in our Reseach Centre will be able to assist with locating and ordering these records.

Records archived by the Australian National Railways after 1975 are held by National Archives of Australia

Indexes and special lists

Staff registers - South Australian Railways, 1853-1913 (GRG 42/131)

Special List to GRG 42/131, Staff registers - South Australian Railways, 1853-1913 A - L - arranged alphabetically by surname

Special List to GRG 42/131, Staff registers - South Australian Railways, 1853-1913 M - Z - arranged alphabetically by surname

 

Register of appointments confirmed - South Australian Railways, 1889-1926 (GRG 42/73)

Special List to GRG 42/73 Register of appointments confirmed - South Australian Railways, 1889-1926 - arranged alphabetically by surname

This series is also indexed by the original record in GRS 111 Index to employee appointment forms ('Form A') - South Australian Railways, 1889-1921.

 

Applications for certificates of competency - Engine Drivers' Board, 1910-1962 (GRG 64/19)

Special List to GRG 64/19 Applications for certificates of competency - Engine Drivers' Board, 1910 - 1962

 

Records held

There is a large number of record series for railway employees which do not have an index.GRS 10638, unit 1, employee register no 781 - Limb, Frederick Robert. Records of employment sheets, South Australian Railways.

Record of employment sheets – South Australian Railways, c1880–c1976 (GRS 10638)

Seventy units in this series are currently arranged in order of date of death or retirement. A current volunteer project is re-arranging these records into alphabetical order by surname of the employee.

Classified officers and employees

Record of Classified Officers, Temporary Employees, Non-Classified Officers and Cadets of the South Australian Railways and Tramways showing salaries and wages paid and allowances, 1873-1888 (GRS 90)

Classified lists of officers and employees of the South Australian Railways, 1889-1943 (GRS 116). These records are available on microfilm, although missing 1927-1929.

Record of officers with annual salaries - South Australian Railways, 1911-1913 (GRS 87). The staff in this register were salaried officers, for example engineers, clerks, station masters and foremen.

Staff registers - South Australian Railways, 1853-1913 (GRG 42/131)

These volumes are available on microfilm. There is a special list.

Index to employee appointment forms ('Form A') - South Australian Railways, 1889-1921 (GRS 111)

This series indexes Register of appointments confirmed - South Australian Railways, 1889-1926 (GRG 42/73). There is also a special list.

Record of employees - South Australian Railways, 1882-1885 (GRS 88)

This volume includes only surnames from A to L. The entries are arranged chronologically by date of employment.

Staff history cards, - South Australian Railways, c1907 - c1961 (GRS 1427)

These cards are available on microfiche. Names beginning WE to WH are missing.

Record of appointments and transfers - South Australian Railways, 1917-1963 (GRS 91)

Volumes 1-2: General and Traffic, 1917-1943
Volume 3: Locomotive, 1918-1942
Volume 4: Transportation, 1943-1952
Volume 5: Maintenance, 1917-1963

Employees’ record of war service – South Australian Railways, 1914-1953 (GRS 6232)

This information was gathered to ensure employees did not lose leave and pay benefits while on military service.

Register of Service, Resigned or Dismissed Employees of the South Australian Railways, 1920-1978 (D 1843)

Ask staff for help to order records in this series.

Types of records

Staff registers - South Australian Railways, 1853-1913 (GRG 42/131)

The registers give

  • name
  • date of birth
  • date entered service
  • station or line
  • position and rate of pay for salaried and non-salaried
  • managerial and temporary staff
  • apprentices
  • city and country

Some volumes also include cause of change of position, awards and punishments, special leave of absence, authority of employment and house rental for staff. 
Some of the registers are divided into sections for the Traffic, Locomotive, Maintenance and Staff Departments of the Railways.

Register of appointments confirmed - South Australian Railways, 1889-1926 (GRG 42/73)

This series comprises a register of appointments, both staff paid daily and salaried staff, confirmed by the South Australian Railways from 1889 to 1926. 

Information includes:

  • number
  • date appointment approved by Commissioners
  • name and date of birth,
  • position and where stationed
  • date of probationary appointment and date appointment confirmed
  • rate of pay
  • insurer and amount of insurance
  • and remarks.

Applications for certificates of competency - Engine Drivers' Board, 1910-1962 (GRG 64/19)

Engine Driver applications for certificates of competency were made under the provisions of the Steam Boilers and Engine Drivers Act, 1935-1952, and related Acts.
The records were created by the Department of Labour and Industry.

The records contain a sample of applications for certificates of competency for engine drivers of various classifications:  

  • internal combustion
  • first class
  • second class
  • third class
  • locomotive and traction
  • crane and hoist
  • and boiler attendants

Employees’ record of war service – South Australian Railways, 1914-1953 (GRS 6232)

Information includes:

  • Name
  • Number of Discharge
  • War Service with (Navy, Army, Air Force)
  • Units served with
  • Date of Enlistment
  • Date of Discharge
  • Reason for Discharge
  • Rank on Discharge
  • Service in Australia (in days)
  • Service outside Australia (in days)
  • Honours and Awards, Promotions, Remustering

Each form is signed by the discharged person and an employee of the Supervising Office.

Key facts

South Australian Railways was established in 1856 with the passing of the South Australian Railway Act (Act No. 27 of 1855 – 1856).

In August 1975 responsibility for railways was split:

  • country lines becoming the responsibility of the Australian National Railways Commission (Commonwealth) and the
  • metropolitan lines becoming the responsibility of the newly formed State Transport Authority (State).