The railways have changed, but the system is far more automated and relies on less manpower. I could think of nothing worse than heaving timber sleepers into place when the Mt Isa line was first upgraded around 1961. No sun or hearing protection and little automation.
Trans-shipment of freight between rail gauges and freight without containerisation was so inefficient.
Interesting our man apparently travelled in an Economy sitter from Cairns to Melbourne, but travelled to Adelaide on the Overland in a Roomette. The old Trans Australian certainly rocked and rolled along compared to the better quality track of today and the 'Westland' from Kalgoorlie...no air-conditioning, would have been hell in Summer after travelling in relative air-con comfort across the Nullarbor.
Was great to see the 'Far West Express' at Nyngan which I never travelled on before the 'super buses' replaced it under the old PTC of NSW.
Construction of the Harris cars in Victoria was of interest and those cars are still...just, operating today... and what can be said about the brand new 'Aurora in operation, but the soup looked a bit thin in the dining car.