In the late 1960s, proposals to open export woodchip mills at Longreach (just south of the growing industrial centre of Bell Bay) encouraged the state government and the TGR to again look at the construction of a railway line to the mouth of the River Tamar and assorted other works, to support log traffic to the mills. The new line was to leave the existing North East line at a location near Nelson Creek (now known as Coldwater Creek Junction). Part of the upgrading works carried out was to construct a new alignment between a new marshalling yard near Newstead (known as East Tamar Junction) and Rocherlea, removing the need for block log trains to travel into Launceston yard, reverse and then negotiate the old alignment of the North East line through the Launceston suburbs.
Initially the main traffic on the line was woodchip logs to Longreach, with the occasional train to George Town and Bell Bay. By the 1990s, log traffic to Longreach by rail was decreasing, and container traffic to the port of Bell Bay was increasing. Today the only traffic on the line is containers to the port area.
Although a station and platform was provided at George Town, no regular passenger trains were operated on the line.
The line remains in service, and sees at least one East Tamar - Bell Bay freight train each weekday (plus weekend trains as required), as well as one loaded 'Paper Train' from Boyer per week.
The line commences from the north end of the East Tamar yard, and climbs up to the suburb of Mowbray. Here sidings exist to server the Boral Quarry, and a container loading area located near the old station area. This now represents the end of the East Tamar yard limits. The line then continues to Rocherlea, before turning north west. Coldwater Creek Junction marks the start of the North East line. From here the line slowly converges with the East Tamar Highway, until they part company again near Mt Direction. After taking different paths around the southern end of the Tipogoree Hills, the railway line and highway take similar routes to the outskirts of George Town.
Longreach, approx 10km south of George Town, is the site of a major woodchip mill – one of the major reasons for the construction of the line. To service the mill, a yard was constructed next to the mainline at Longreach, and from the southern end of this yard a 2km long spur line was constructed that ran down the hill to another yard, this one adjacent to the log delivery area of the woodchip mill.
A marshalling yard is located in forestry plantation about 2km south of George Town township, and from here the railway line descends to the Bell Bay port area. A number of spur lines and sidings exist in this area for wagon storage, container loading and log delivery.
East Tamar Junction - Junction with Western Line
Coldwater Creek - Junction for North East Line
From the 1978 Working Time Table
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