Hello dear readers. Welcome to part 2 of our 3-part series on trains! Firstly, in part one, we covered some of the history of Victorian trains. We hope you found it interesting. Now, in part two, we will cover the different types of trains. Then, we’ll follow that with interesting journeys of discovery in part three. So are you ready? Great, let’s go!
The beginning of the steam trains story for Victoria started in February 1853. That was when Parliament approved three private railway proposals. Specifically, they were the Melbourne and Hobson’s Bay Railway, the Geelong and Melbourne Railway and the Melbourne, Mount Alexander and Murray River Railway. Interestingly they were all wholly private enterprises. Also, between 1857 and 1861 several other companies gained approval too. Unfortunately though, the high cost of construction, labour shortages and insufficient patronage took their toll. That’s why eventually they merged into one big company. The Melbourne and Hobson’s Bay United Railway Company was it’s name. Despite this however, Private railway development was coming to an end.
So, as a result of this ‘private railways’ failure, the government of Victoria took over. Following that, they began the work of construction and operation of Victoria’s railways. In fact on the 19th of March 1856, Parliament authorised the formation of the Victorian Railways Department. Notably, one Mr G.C.Darbyshire was the first Engineer in Chief. Interestingly, the first lines they chose to operated were to Williamstown and Bendigo. Perhaps they were really booming at the time. A line from Geelong to Ballarat was later constructed. Then, later on, railway links were connected with Victorian key mining centres.
Unfortunately however, steam engines required constant daily maintenance & stabling overnight. In fact, the effort to maintain them was massive and required a dedicated depot. Sadly, that locomotive depot (affectionately known by steam men as ‘The big smoke’) was demolished on 20 January 1965. However, nowadays steam trains operate only as a tourist novelty so they don’t require it. Ironically, when they were first built they were billed as technological achievements in modern transport.
Diesel-electric locomotives pull all our trains today. In July 1962, a new, modern locomotive depot was built at South Dynon. The aim was to service and maintain the State’s fleet of diesel and mainline electric locomotives. Not much has happened since then of real technological note. However you’ll be please to hear that some companies still operate the old steam trains. In fact, you can go visit them!
Aside from the city and country lines, Heritage Railways and Operators include:
In part three of our series on trains, we will give a snapshot of Museums and Exhibitions around Melbourne. We hope you are enjoying our presentation. So, until next time, keep reading our blogs. Our extended family at Gold Age Australia sends you and your elderly loved ones our fondest regards. Bye for now and happy travels!
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