This A5-size booklet is published by Eveleigh Press and is the third in the Australian Trains series. It covers the history of what is arguably Australia’s most famous train during both its broad gauge Melbourne-Albury life and also a “second fiddle” standard gauge train on the Melbourne-Sydney route after 1962.
The book contains a brief history of the construction of the lines, originally by independent state authorities and subsequently the joining of the separate networks at Albury/Wodonga. It also covers the history of the uniform gauge initiative that resulted in the creation of the Sydney-Melbourne standard gauge trains.
It then covers the construction and introduction of the Spirit of Progress in 1937 and lists the train composition, schedules and rolling stock. This is followed by the history of the standard gauge version between 1962 and 1986. There is a section covering the demise of the train and its amalgamation with the Southern Aurora and finally the introduction of XPT services on the route.
The book covers the historical events associated with this train including first services in 1937, standard gauge delivery event which was steam-hauled Albury-Sydney, recognition of the hundredth birthday of Harold Clapp in 1975 and re-enactment of the broad gauge Spirit, prior to the closure of the Victorian north-east main line in 2008.
The book also contains details of each class of locomotive associated with the Spirit of Progress and also a section about the route which the train operates.
It is well illustrated throughout. As the train operated overnight for most of its life, photos are all taken south of Albury or north of Moss Vale. There are some errors in the captions; page 54 is described as taken in 5 January 1988, after the train had been cancelled; page 47 has the incorrect number of vehicles and the lower-quadrant signals mentioned on page 10 are extremely difficult to see.
However these are very minor criticisms and the book overall presents and accurate, concise and consolidates information into one book that had been previously published in many different places.