In our October edition

October Newsrail celebrates the former railway line through Kilcunda, one of the former VR’s most photographed locations, and one with a fascinating history.

We have two feature articles on the topic:

  • A series of excerpts from Mark Cauchi’s forthcoming new book on the building of the railway line through Kilcunda; the initial rail connection from Woolamai to the Powlett River coalfiends achieved through the use of a temporary line with steep grades and sharp curves which operated while the permanent line, with its substantial earthworks and magnificent trestle bridge, was constructed.
  • A personal recollection from Don Schroder, who grew up on a farm on the line between Anderson and Kilcunda, with trains running right past the front of the family home (and occasionally stopping right outside the front to save Don and his family the walk from the station!

Both articles are illustrated with some magnificent photographs; Don’s article with Kodachrome images from the last years of steam operation of the line, Mark’s article with fascinating photographs of its construction, including the temporary line being operated parallel to the permanent line then under construction.

We have two other feature articles in this edition:

  • Norman Houghton, who was awarded an OAM in this year’s Australia Day honours, has provided another in his fascinating “Ghost Station” series of articles. This time Norman is looking at Bet Bet and Havelock Stations, on the line between Maryborough and Dunolly, and their past importance as railheads for stone mining
  • And finallly, we farewell the old Lilydale Station with a short photographic feature capturing the last two trains to ever depart the old station.

We have all the usual columns:

  • Calendar anniversaries
  • News and Announcements
  • Rail works
  • PTV reliability
  • Tramways
  • Operations and sightings
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc

And our occasional Rolling Stock column makes a return this month to discuss some recent news on locomotives and carriages.

In our September edition

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Our September edition has a dramatic cover photograph, courtesy of Max Thum, of the restored Tait set undergoing test runs around the Melbourne suburban network on 1 August. Inside, our Preservation column features an update on some of the work undertaken to ready the Tait set for operation on the Melbourne suburban network and some words from Elecrail Manager Kevin Clark on the success of the tests.

We have a wonderful collection of photographic features for our readers.

  • Mark Cauchi presents a further update to his Ballarat Racecourse Line article of 2020, with an additional series of photographs of the line, including some images from the 1940s, when A2 locomotives hauled race trains and horseboxes to the racecourse station.
  • Bruce McLean presents a report and an amazing collection of photos of a derailment involving D2.711 near Pinnaroo that occurred on 16 November 1937, which keen Victorian railfans will note as the day before the Spirit of Progress made its debut run. The humble D2 stuck in a sand drift seems a world away from the glamorous streamliner that was about to set an Australian rail speed record.
  • Our centre pages show a stunning photograph from Scott Gould of R761 ascending Ingliston Bank with the V/Line H Set cars on 31 July
  • And we have Part Two of Terry Norton’s article “Don’t leave it too late”, with Terry’s reminiscences of journeys on Victorian rail over the decades.

Our News column covers the delivery of the first of the standard gauge VLocity fleet for testing, and news on the Suburban Rail Loop and proposed Metro Two Tunnel.

And all our other columns are there:

  • Rail works
  • PTV reliability
  • Tramways
  • Operations and sightings
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc


In our August edition

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August Newsrail, another 36-page edition, has a wide range of feature articles and other content of interest to all who follow the Victorian rail scene.

We have four feature articles this month:

  • John Hearsch writes on the recent introduction of A-Double trucks, also known as High Productivity Freight Vehicles, to the Victorian road network and the risks they pose to the ongoing viability of regional rail freight at a time when much of Victoria’s regional rail network is hamstrung by under-investment in infrastructure;
  • Phil Dunn presents a fascinating 1935 Victorian Railways report proposing options for new shunting locomotives, options which included a predecessor of the Victorian Railways F Class locomotive eventually adopted, and a K Class-based 0-8-0 tender locomotive adapted for shunting work;
  • Terry Norton encourages railfans to not leave it too late to experience the rail journeys on offer to us today, and recounts just how many once-everyday journeys he took on now-closed and dismantled railway lines. Along the way he discusses everything from the horrors of clapped-out NSWGR sleeper stock on peak holiday trains, through to the simple joys of a freshly-brewed cup of VR coffee;
  • and finally, Scott Gould takes us on the journey of a train-chasing rail photographer, and the elusive search for “The Shot”, beautifully illustrated with photographs from his recent travels chasing the Cruise Express tour.

We also note the passing of the old Mooroolbark Station into history, and the impending closure of Lilydale Station, as part of the current project to eliminate level crossings at Manchester Road and Maroondah Highway.

As ever, the edition is illustrated with spectacular photographs from Andrew Blair, Thomas Hobley, Ian Green, Marcus Wong, Geoff Oliver, Alan Greenhill, John Dare, Graham Edwards, Nick Cutter, Alex Pate, Peter Thornton, and David O’Brien.

All your favourite columns are included:

  • News and Announcements – including details of the new Surrey Hills Station
  • Rail works
  • PTV reliability
  • Tramways
  • Operations and sightings
  • Preservation – including a special report from Walhalla Goldfields Railway
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc


In our July edition

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Our July edition is a delight for those who remember Melbourne’s beloved red rattlers as we mark two important anniversaries: the centenary of electric train services to Heidelberg, and the 95th anniversary of the first electric train test runs to Hurstbridge.

John Anderson grew up in the Heidelberg area and recounts in great detail the experiences of riding the Swing Door “dog box” trains from Eaglemont to Princes Bridge Station in the late 1940s and early 1950s. John’s vivid descriptions bring to life the experience of riding these antiquated wooden carriages, which dated back to the 1880s and were converted to electric operation around 1920, as well as their more modern sliding-door “Tait” counterparts. John discusses:

  • Princes Bridge Station
  • The wooden electric train fleet
  • Features of the Heidelberg Line
  • Management of dogbox trains on the Heidelberg Line
  • Features of the line beyond Heidelberg
  • The line prior to electrification

The article is beautifully illustrated with photographs from the SLV and PROV collections, the author’s own collection, and the collections of George Coop, Bob Wilson and Trevor Penn.

Our front cover features a beautiful photograph from 1981,taken by George Coop, of a four-car Tait set looking well-weathered after six decades of service as it crosses the historic Eltham wooden trestle bridge.

Our July edition also features:

  • News and Announcements – including details of Arden Station works, plastic sleepers, the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme, and the recent near-miss on the Seymour Line
  • Rolling stock update – VL89, Sprinter refurbishment, SCT locomotive leasing
  • Rail works
  • PTV reliability
  • Tramways
  • Operations and sightings
  • Preservation – news from the Yarra Valley and Bellarine Peninsula Railways
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc


In our June edition

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June 2021 Newsrail is a big 44-page edition, celebrating 70 years of the R Class steam locomotive.

To mark the seven-decade history of the much-loved R Class, we present interviews with seven key people, each of whom has a unique, expert opinion to offer. We were delighted to have the assistance of people from 707 Operations and Steamrail, and the former Victorian Railways and West Coast Railway, in putting together this edition.

The interviewees, and some of the many topics covered include:

  • VR Fitter Neil Harris on maintaining the Rs allocated to the Seymour Locomotive Depot in the 1950s
  • VR Driver and Fireman Cliff Earl on driving the R in express passenger service, and one final run that reached 87 mph (140 km/h)!
  • VR Driver and Fireman Jack Waite on firing the R, and driving the R in freight duties
  • 707 Operations Fitter Rod Stellini on keeping heritage locomotive R707 running in the 21st Century
  • Heritage Driver Trevor Penn on his impressions of driving/firing R Class locomotives
  • WCR Operations Director Michael Menzies on the considerations behind running R Class in public passenger service
  • WCR Workshop Manager Bob Butrims on the performance, and problems, of R711 and R766 running to a modern timetable
…and there are additional pieces on the travels of R class locomotives interstate, and also the finer points of mechanical stoker operation.
Our insightful interviews are accompanied by photographs from several noted photographers, including John Dare, Bob Wilson, Geoff Oliver, Dave O’Brien, Chris Drymalik, the late F.G. Naylor and Weston Langford, and of course our beautiful cover photo taken by Max Thum. We were also indebted to ‘Hudson Power’ author Robert Carlisle for assisting us with some striking photos of the Rs being manufactured and loaded as deck cargo in Glasgow.
We also have two other features for June:
  • Centenary of the electrification of the Reservoir and former Inner Circle lines: Mark Cauchi and John Thompson present an interesting retrospective of the rise and fall in the fortunes of the Inner Circle line via North Carlton and North Fitzroy on the 100th anniversary of its electrification
  • Visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to Flinders Naval Base: with the recent passing of the Duke, Michael Guiney notes the special train arrangements that accompanied his 1954 visit to Flinders Naval Base.
Our News page details the new X’Trapolis 2.0 that will soon be coming out of Alstom’s Ballarat manufacturing facility. Plus we have all the other favourite columns:
  • Rail works
  • PTV reliability
  • Tramways
  • Operations and sightings
  • Preservation
  • Photo in focus
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc


In our May edition

May Newsrail is a delight for rail fans, its 36 pages including stunning photography by noted photographers, and fascinating historic features by noted authors.

Our striking cover photograph commemorates 100 years since the opening of the final stage of the line from Wodonga to Cudgewa, which had some of the most spectacular scenery of any railway in Victoria. The accompanying article on the construction and opening of the line, written by our Features Editor Mark Cauchi, is one of three feature articles we present this month.

We also have another article by author Norman Houghton, who was recently awarded an Order of Australia for his tireless work in recording the industrial and railway history of Victoria’s south west. Winchelsea Station is today just a stop on the Warrnambool passenger rail service, but Norman shows us its past importance as a railhead for nearby stone and later coal mining operations.

Noted rail photographer and former Newsrail editor John Dare has also written a fascinating new article on the trial-use of Bluebird railcars to provide passenger services on the Gippsland Line following the cessation of electric services to Warragul in 1998. The centre pages of this edition feature remarkable photographs by John of these railcars in the red and blue V/Line livery of the era, as they ran a series of test runs between Traralgon and Melbourne.

Our News and Works columns cover a whole range of recent developments, from progress on the Metro project to calls for the Shepparton to Dookie Line to be reopened as a record grain season sees heavy road transport hammering the roads in the region. We also note the ending of an era as the Wallan Down Distant semaphore signal is decommissioned, the last semaphore on the North Eastern Line (and quite possibly the last distant semaphore anywhere on the Victorian main line network).

Our Operations and Sightings column is a treat for lovers of the EMD “bulldog” locomotives, with photos of A66, S313, and various SSR locomotives including the striking sight of CLF3, dubbed ‘Space Ghost’, in service in Victoria. We also capture an interesting training run that saw N475 run all the way to Dunolly.

Our Preservation section features some interesting developments from the Yarra Valley Railway, which is roaring ahead with its project to extend its operations through to Yarra Glen.

Taildisc once again runs over two pages this edition, with yet more interesting reader feedback and photographs, including the demolition of Kew Station, the mysterious refreshment rooms that were once in use at Underbool in the state’s Mallee region, and some interesting research on Lal Lal that may help explain why this station had a turntable for a few brief years of its existence.

In our April edition

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Our April 2021 edition has a magnificent cover photograph, courtesy of Thomas Hobley, of S313 on its 60th anniversary run to Seymour and back, marking the return of heritage rail services to the main line.

Inside, our main feature article for this month is another wonderful photo essay from Andrew Blair, once again taking us on a journey that is has not been possible to make for decades.

Andrew takes us back to 1972 for a journey from Balranald in the NSW Riverina through to Echuca. Other than seasonal wheat and rice trains, this line saw very little traffic in its later years. On the day he travelled, Andrew was the only passenger on the Walker railcar as it called at various stations along the route, picking up and delivering parcels and other small items. Andrew was fortunate to have a driver who was happy to let him take photographs along the line, even stopping at the Wakool River to allow Andrew to get out and take photos of the railcar as it crossed the bridge. Just three years after Andrew’s journey, Victorian Railways withdrew the passenger service and the scenes that Andrew had captured with his camera lens and notes passed into history.

We also have a concise history of the Barnes to Balranald railway, which had the interesting distinction of being a Victorian Railways line that ran entirely outside of Victoria.

We also have a round-up of recent rail news, including details of a new railway station to be built at Pakenham East, and recent stats on public transport vs road usage following the recent relaxation of COVID restrictions.

Our Preservation section features the project by the Young Volunteers’ Group at Victorian Goldfields Railway to restore the last remaining Ice Van in trafficable condition, T222.

Taildisc runs over two pages this edition, with a number of interesting photographs and other details sent in by readers in response to articles in recent editions, such as our March 2021 Kew Line feature.

In our March edition

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The Kew Railway Line continues to fascinate rail fans, despite its short length, and even more than sixty years after its closure. Our authors Mark Cauchi, Michael Guiney and Trevor Penn have written an authoritative piece on the decline, closure and dismantling of the line. It is extensively researched, busts one or two myths about the reasons for the railway’s demise. It is accompanied by an amazing collection of photographs of the final years of the line, including L class locomotives doing test runs along the line, the plant trains used in the dismantling of the line, and then the extraordinary sight of bridges still in place over the filled-in cuttings between Hawthorn and Barker Stations after the rails had been removed.

We also have a piece on the recent use of N Class locomotives for driver training, which saw a sudden proliferation of the class around Ballarat, where they were once a common sight but in more recent times have barely been seen.

We also have a very busy News section with stories on a new proposal for restoring Mildura Line passenger services, level crossing removals, recent mishaps, and calls for an upgrade of Caulfield Station ahead of the opening of the Metro Tunnel.

Our Preservation section features a fascinating update from Steamrail Victoria, which has just organised to get a new set of driving wheels and tyres made for veteran locomomtive Y112 to ensure it can continue to steam well into the future.

We’ve also got all our other regular sections, with a beautiful (and oh-so-Melbourne) photo for the Tramways column, a colour photograph of an A2 working a pick-up goods at Wallace Station back in 1957 for our Taildisc column, and details of the new PTV timetable in our Operations section.

Our cover photograph, from the Charles Craig collection and provided to Newsrail courtesy of Paul Kennelly, features a D3 locomotive pushing a plant train across the Barkers Road level crossing in 1958 as works to dismantle the railway got under way; note the catenary had already been removed.

In our February edition

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Our February 2021 edition cover photo shows the last ever train to travel via the Bungaree Loop, a 13km track that has finally been replaced as part of the Ballarat Line Upgrade. The Bungaree Loop was once the main line to Ballarat and part of the main interstate freight and passenger network. But, as our concise history tells, this line’s long history began in 1879 as a sleepy branch line out of Ballarat that ran just two return trains per day!

Andrew Blair, who has produced some magnificent photo essays of adventures as a teenage railfan in the 1950s, has penned an article on a far more recent item of rail history: the short-lived use of Sprinter rail cars to run services to Albury-Wodonga. Andrew explains the background to these services, and how community action forced the Kennett government to reverse its decision to replace some Albury train services with buses. There are wonderful photos from the V/Line red and blue era.

On the very same day that the last trains ran via Bungaree, history was being made in Melbourne as the new High Capacity Metro Train carried its first passengers. We present photos and first impressions from some passengers, as well as discussing some of the advanced features that mark these new trains as a step change from previous suburban train designs in Melbourne.

We also have a beautiful centre page spread with photos by Darren Hodges who was on hand to capture the last trains to use the old 1888 Avon River bridge at Stratford in Gippsland, and the first trains to use its new $95 million dollar replacement.

And we have all your other favourite columns, including:
  • Tramways
  • PTV service quality
  • General Works
  • Preservation
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc

In our January edition

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The glorious cover photograph of Newport-built steam locomotive N431 chuffing out of Ararat is one of a magnificent collection presented by renowned rail photographer Bob Wilson who, in January 1964, took advantage of the Victorian Railways’ 14-day “All Lines” ticket offer which allowed the holder unlimited travel on then-extensive VR network. Bob used his ticket to tour the lines of western and south-western Victoria in what turned out to be of the last great summers of steam operation, travelling on some lines that are no longer open to rail passengers to experience. Bob recounts his journey in detail, and his photographs capture J, N, and R Class steam locomotives on freight duties along various lines radiating from Ararat

We have an extensive News section in this month’s edition to cover the significant new rail projects that have been announced in the recent State Budget, including the commencement of works on the first phase of the Suburban Rail Loop, and the funding of works to upgrade the Werribee Line to allow some V/Line Geelong services to run a significantly quicker journey by running via Werribee.

Our Operations and Sightings section is full of stunning photographs as the relaxation of COVID restrictions in recent weeks allowed our various contributors to get out and capture Victoria’s ever-changing rail scene.

Our Anniversaries page records a range of interesting events during January, and we have a two page feature to record the fortieth anniversary of two pivotal events of Victoria’s rail network that occurred in 1981: the opening of the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop, and the withdrawal of the last of the Walker rail cars, a prologue to the closure of the once-great network of branch-line and wayside passenger rail services, and a precursor to the far-reaching changes to passenger rail operations that arrive later that same year with the “New Deal for Country Passengers” program.

And we have all your other favourite columns, including:
  • Tramways
  • PTV service quality
  • General Works
  • Preservation
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc