New Caledonia's Nouméa-Païta Railway

The island of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean is about 850 miles from mainland Australia, and has a population of roughly 270,000 people. 

Despite its remoteness, it was once home to a railway, specifically the Nouméa-Païta Railway. Outside of some isolated and short industrial operations, this was the only railroad activity on the island.

First opened in 1904 after several years of construction, it was intended to connect with Canala on the north end of the island, but would only be opened to a length of about 25 miles, ending a bit north of its implied end of Païta.

An extension was then considered, but world events beyond the control of New Calendonia would prevent any further expansion of the line.

Railway at Noumea, c.1905

Two World Wars, a plague, and the increased competition from the automobile industry would do the line in by 1940. 

In 1942, the line was briefly reopened, as the American 790th Railway Transportation Company reopened the line to operate Allied presence in New Caledonia. However, once the American presence left the island, the line was abandoned for good. 

Map of the operations between Nouméa-Païta. There are likely unmapped spurs emanating from this line, but this constitutes the majority of the route. Interactive map on our map page.

Thanks as always for reading!


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