Australian Rail Maps began in 1996 out of frustration at the difficulty that so many Australians and visitors had understanding and using public transport. Unlike other transport modes, public transport was highly fragmented across the nation with numerous operators, each with their own fare and ticketing systems, booking agents, web sites, technical and other practices. For the average consumer it was a mysterious and daunting task merely to travel outside his or her own region. There had to be a better way. So an individual crusade began. The mission was to make the complex simple and to remove the obstacles of obscurity and mystery for everyone considering travelling Australia by train, bus, tram and ferry.
The first maps were published online in 1996. They were crude and inelegant, but they did bring together in to one place information on all the nation's passenger trains.
At the time it was just a hobby, but as the maps were refined, the website caught the eyes of various reviewers in print journals (yes that was a thing at the time) including:
- Network Rail Magazine, April 1997
- Netweek Magazine - 1st issue, September 1999
- Australian Map Circle Newsletter No 80, March 2000
- Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 2nd June 2001
Australian Rail Maps was formally registered as business in 2003 and in 2004 entered into partnership with Hema Maps to publish a national rail map.
Hema Maps celebrated the opening of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway by publishing their wonderful 'Rail Journeys of Australia' fold-out map and they selected our maps to print on the reverse. Rail Journeys of Australia was acclaimed around the world and was awarded the International Map Trade Association's 2004 prize for Best Map in the World. A second edition (ISBN 9781865002620) was published in 2007.
Royalties from sales of Rail Journeys of Australia were our first revenue stream, but that was just the beginning. In June 2005 we added our first Google Adsense in-page advertisement. In those days it was all a bit experiemential and just a bit of fun, but it generated actual hard revenue. That has been the case every single day since then, and revenue from online advertising has grown to become, today, our largest revenue stream.
Addition of an online database of rail services in 2005 added another dimension to our website. In addition to being able to browse network maps, visitors to railmaps.com.au could now see timetables. We added a journey planner and eventually the use of GTFS data published by transport authorities enabled us to greatly expand our online timetable and journey planner servces.
Our enhanced online timetables and journey planner services together with our traditional network maps have meant that visitor traffic has grown substantially over the years.
The business has broadened its revenue base so that whilst Rail Journeys of Australia is now long out of print, we today earn our living from:
- Online Advertising (through multiple intermediaries)
- Commission on sale of third-party rail passes
- Commission on Accommodation bookings via referrals
- Commission on sales of merchandise and clothing with images of our rail maps
Australian Rail Maps doesn't take commissions or any fees from rail or other transport operators. All income is driven by website visitors.
Australian Rail Maps is an exporter that has made a profit in every quarter since our commercial launch in 2004. The business supports Australian families and proudly contributes to our nation by paying Australian taxes.
Nonetheless, as we enter our 25th year online, our primary objective remains the same as always: to promote and facilitate the use of train travel and public transport across Australia.
We value your feedback on this site. Comments, suggestions, ideas and questions are welcome.
If you have a specific question, suggestion or observation, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much for your feedback, it is very much appreciated.
We are not affiliated in any way with are not an agent of any transport operator. We are not a licenced travel agency and we do not book travel. We suggest that you direct all enquiries to the operators. We provide links to web sites and telephone numbers of all operators from our timetable pages.
If you are unable to get answers to enquiries from the service operators of those services we would like to try to help by answering your email personally. Due to the volume of enquiries we cannot guarantee a response.