Last week, I headed out to the Newport railyards with my mate James to shoot some photos of old steam trains at the Steamrail Victoria depot and workshops. We didn’t realise that there was so much additional Melbourne train and tramway rolling stock from the past thirty or more years! There is a veritable wealth of Victorian and Melburnian rail and tram history out there, much of it simply rotting away out in the open. The workshops and old Victorian Rail buildings are also amazing, dating back to an era when people created buildings as temples to industry, transport and other civic functions! It seems like a mountain of work for the volunteer army from Steamrail Victoria, who, I think are flat out simply restoring the few locomotives and railcars that continue to run around the state on various excursions for the paying public.
I’m not a trainspotter as such, but I found it fascinating to have this history so close to the heart of our city, just three or four stops from Southern Cross Station, on the Werribee line. I hope the government does something meaningful with this site and the old trains and trams, because it would be a real shame to lose it. I think we could use a lot more of these old trains and trams in much the same way that the San Franciscans have used their old cable cars to draw in the tourists!
For those who are interested, Steamrail Victoria is a not-for-profit volunteer group established in 1965 to the restore and operate historic locomotives and rolling stock used on the railways in Victoria, Australia. The main depot of the group is at the Newport Railway Workshops (‘West Block’) in inner western Melbourne. In addition to operating railfan special trains and charters for private groups, the group also operates special steam trains in the Melbourne suburban area. Streamrail regularly tours the state, including participation in annual events such as the Ballarat Heritage Weekend (the steam locomotive Y112 is used to shuttle between Ballarat and Sulky Gully/Lal Lal). Steamrail Victoria also hires diesel locomotives to Qube Logistics (Formerly POTA) as required.
The group has custody of a number of Victorian Railways steam locomotives, including the R, D3 and K classes, in addition to several diesel electric locomotives, and various suburban electric rolling stock. Heritage carriages include the wooden ‘E’ and ‘W’ types, steel air conditioned ‘S’ type carriages, and South Australian ‘K’ type steel stock.
I’d like to thank the guys who work there, and who allowed us to visit and take photos – I’m sending them some of my images in the event they can use them, and hope they continue to receive funding to do a great job in hanging on to an important part of our history!