Victorian Preserved Railways

Railway preservation in Victoria is alive and well.  Some lines are more financially successful than others, but the standard of equipment provides a great representation of the later steam era.  The outstanding and best known system is Puffing Billy, which celebrated 100 years of narrow gauge operation by December 2000.

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Puffing Billy - Belgrave

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Bellarine Peninsular Railway - Queenscliffe

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Goldfields Railway - Maldon

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SteamRail - various alternative trips from Melbourne

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Walhalla - in Gippsland's Mountain area

Photos by Ian Petherick

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Walhalla as a mining town flourished in the 1890's. Early in the new century the rail was connected to Moe and trains began operation using the Na Class loco. About a century later after 50 years of inactivity, the line was re-opened and train once more operated into Walhalla. Today they come as tourist trains from the nearby Thompson River siding.

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Na14a Trestle near Belgrave

Puffing Billy crosses the Trestle returning west to Belgrave

 

Puffing Billy

From Belgrave Puffing Billy operates throughout the year with up to 7 trains on the busiest days. 

Operations rely on the 100 year old Baldwin and VR built 2-6-2 Na type tank locos. Various other locos have operated for periods of time with limited success. The shaft driven 'Climax' from Erica in Victoria's east was returned to service but failed to meet boiler and maintenance tests so was withdrawn.

The return of a narrow gauge Garrett has been long anticipated. Work has progressed for several years and it will soon take-over some of the load during busy periods

Located on the Bellarine Peninsular close to "The Heads" at the Port Phillip Bay entrance, The Bellarine Railway headquarters are at Queenscliffe. It has historical interest and is a town well endowed with old buildings, great scenic areas and a busy tourist population.  Week-ends and public holidays, are busiest while mid-week operations by contrast are uncrowded and relaxed.

Loco Ma_6 came from Tasmania when their lines were closed

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Steam at its finest, R711 is the pride of the  roster of VicSteam Rail operating locomotives. R Class locos have operated in Victoria for more than 50 years

Although trips are scheduled to a variety of country towns on a seasonal basis, the R711 is not currently in regular scheduled service. West Coast Rail had operated their Saturday morning service to Warrnambool from Melbourne for some years until their demise. Departing from Spencer Street, Melbourne at 8.30am it covered the 300 km to Warrnambool, via Geelong in 4.5 hours.

Maldon in the Victorian Goldfields dates from the late 19th century retaining the feel that the gold has only just run out.  In fact for 100 years there has been little pay dirt taken from the diggings.

Passenger fan trips hauled by steamers K160 or J549 or a restored freight diesel cover the 18 km line in a leisurely 25 minutes each way.  Operating Public holidays, Wednesdays, and Weekends, a restored petrol engined railcar of the 1930's will soon be added to the operational roster.

K16O at MALDON
The side rods, valve gear and steam cylinders show the running gear of a truly modern loco - even though it is more than 60 years since the K Class first entered mainline service.
The operating and maintenance crews are all volunteers. A handful of long-time loco drivers keep their hand in on steam;The photo at shows a "family" picture of these three in an atmosphere clouded by steam from the loco.  In summer the steam locos will not be fired up, the trains diesel hauled to reduce fire hazard.
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