A Steam Train Passes is an award winning Australian 1974 short film set in the 1940s, featuring the construction and operation of locomotive 3801.
The opening sequence is a 1943 black-and-white Cinesound newsreel Monarch of the Rails
showing the locomotive being built. The film then changes to colour and shows the locomotive at the Enfield
locomotive depot, then the home of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum
. The fireman lights the fire and the driver inspects the locomotive. When ready the locomotive is turned on the turntable
The main part of the film shows the train travelling through the New South Wales countryside through disparate locations including the Sydney suburbs, Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge and Picton loop line. These scenes are interspersed with vignettes of life the 1940s including a travelling salesman, a country wedding and soldiers in a pub, all linked to the train journey.
Most of the audio is live sound of the train, with some overlayed with original music by George Dreyfus.
There are no speaking parts so the actors are not credited. The only "acting" credits are for the driver Chris O'Sullivan and fireman Harold Fowler, both employees of the New South Wales Public Transport Commission
A Steam Train Passes
is one of Film Australia's most successful films
It has won many awards and is generally regarded as Australia's finest railway film
- 1974 Australian Film Institute Awards, Silver Kodak Award for Photography (Documentary Category)
- 1974 Australian Film Institute Awards, Bronze Medallion for Dean Semler
- 1975 US Industrial Film Festival, Silver Screen Award - 2nd prize, History & Biography
- 1975 Chicago International Film Festival, Certificate of Merit Documentary Section 9, History
- 1975 San Francisco International Film Festival, Special Jury Award - Communication Section
- 1975 Cork International Film Festival, Statuette of St. Fincarr, Category D (Short Fiction)
- 1975 Melbourne International Film Festival, Special Award Short Film.
- 1975 Australian Cinematographers Society Awards, Golden Tripod.
Footage from this film has become almost stock footage
for other productions requiring footage of a steam train. Footage has been used in Sirens
, Rabbit-Proof Fence
, True Believers
and several documentaries.
The original negative is preserved at the National Film and Sound Archive.