20th Anniversary of the Tilt Trains


Perched atop the driver's seat with a front row view to the pineapple farms and Glasshouse Mountains of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland Rail veteran Jonathon 'Jacko' Limpus considers his job the best in the world.

"I don't think many people get to work with a view like this every day," Mr Limpus says as his train passes Mount Tibrogargan on the start of its journey to Rockhampton.

Jonathan has been driving the Brisbane to Rockhampton electronic tilt train since its debut in 1998, when Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On was number one on the charts, the Brisbane Broncos won their fourth NRL title and Google first appeared on our computer screens.

On 6 November 2018, Queensland Rail will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Rockhampton Tilt Trains. These services have travelled almost twelve million kilometres over the past two decades and today carry more than 200,000 customers each year.

"The Tilt Train fleet was a real hit when it launched. Gone were the days of the slow, bumpy commute; now there was a fleet of trains that could travel at speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour and get the entire family from the south east to Rocky faster than a car and without any hassle," Mr Limpus recalls.

"What made it so special compared to traditional trains is that it used ground-breaking technology from Japan that allowed it to approach curves at a higher speed without making passengers feel like they were going to roll out of their seats.

"It was and is the fastest train in the country. In fact, it set the Australian rail speed record on 23 May 1999 clocking in at 210 kilometres per hour."

Within two years of its launch more than half a million people had travelled on the Tilt Trains, which transport customers between Brisbane and Rockhampton – a 639 kilometre trip with 11 key locations in between.

On top of that, the introduction of the Tilt Train fleet also provided a shot in the arm for many of the communities along the service.

"The trains were manufactured at what is now Downer's rail facility in Maryborough. They were trains made by Queenslanders, to connect Queenslanders. It was an investment in the Maryborough community and their workforce.

"For the Rockhampton area alone, the fleet has injected upwards of $4 million a year in the local economy, bringing in tourists, connecting locals like never before with healthcare, family and friends and giving long-distance workers a new, affordable and quick way to travel."

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Tilt Train fleet remains as popular today as it was 20 years ago.

"The Tilts definitely remain the most utilised service on the Queensland Rail Travel fleet," Mr Bailey said.

"Whether you use the tilts for holidays, to visit family or friends, make medical appointments or even commute for work, it really changed the game in affordable travel from the Wide Bay and Central Queensland regions.

"The Tilt Trains offer a seven-and-a-half hour journey between Brisbane and Rockhampton, which is comparable to car travel, but with the added relaxation of on board meals and beverages, as well as in-seat visual and audio entertainment.

"Queensland Rail recently invested more than $28 million to refurbish its entire Tilt Train fleet, giving the trains a mid-life mechanical overhaul and bringing in technology like Wi-Fi and USB charging ports.

"Now customers can sit back and relax listening to their Celine Dion classics, searching Google or watching another Broncos win."

For Jacko Limpus, he hopes to continue driving the Brisbane to Rockhampton tilt for years to come.

As the train drives past Curra State Forest, just north of Gympie, Limpus quips, "It's a job I wouldn't trade for anything else in the world."

For more information about travelling on the Bundaberg and Rockhampton Tilt Trains visit www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au

Tilt train fast facts:

  • City of Maryborough – 5.93 million kilometres travelled to-date
  • City of Rockhampton – 6.039 million kilometres travelled to-date
  • 4.5 million customer trips since 2000
  • Maximum service speed: 170km/h
  • Acceleration: 0.69m/s2
  • Angle of car body tilt: five degrees maximum in each direction
  • Number of carriages: six
  • Length of cab cars: 23 metres
  • Length of passenger cars: 21.5 metres
  • Wheel diameter: 810mm
  • Track gauge: 1,067mm


  • March 1993 – Contract awarded to Walkers Limited, Maryborough for the manufacturing of two Tilt Trains
  • 12 August 1997 – First Tilt Train trial Maryborough to Gympie return
  • 25 October 1997 – First Tilt Train trial trip Maryborough to Brisbane
  • 15 November 1997 – First Tilt Train trial to Rockhampton
  • 6 November 1998 – Inaugural Tilt Train service Brisbane to Rockhampton
  • 23 May 1999 – Tilt Train sets Australian rail speed record at 210km/h
  • 24 July 1999 – Inaugural tilt train service Brisbane to Bundaberg
  • 4 August 2000 – 500,000th passenger on Tilt Train Brisbane to Rockhampton
  • 6 November 2018 – Brisbane to Rockhampton tilt train service 20th anniversary.


For further details contact Queensland Rail Corporate Affairs on:

Phone: 07 3072 2180
Email: media@qr.com.au