In our May 2024 edition

A striking photograph of diesel-electric locomotive A62, now beautifully restored to its original 1984 V/Line livery, introduces the subject of this month’s Tourist and Heritage Rail column. Newsrail spoke to Tom Anderson at heritage group Seven-O-Seven Operations, who gave us the run-down on this exciting project.

Two very interesting feature articles are included this month. One is the second article written for Newsrail by the rail industry veteran (and lifelong railfan) David Parsons, who photographed and jotted down sightings of trains on the East Kew Line in its final days of operation in 1943.

Greg Michael has also written a feature on the the rail crossing at Inkerman Street, the site of one of Melbourne’s earliest level crossing removal projects, all the way back in 1893!

We also have another installment of our semi-regular Photo in focus series, this time featuring a scene of Swing Door (a.k.a. dog box) trains sitting in the Jolimont yards in 1925, with the city skyline forming the backdrop.

Our News section covers the 500,000 tonne increase in grain carried by rail during the current season, despite the poor condition of some key routes, as well as the construction commencement of the next batch of 23 VLocity sets (which will bring the total to 141) and progress on the testing of the Metro Tunnel ahead of its scheduled 2025 opening.

Our other regular sections are there:

  • General works
  • Operations and sightings
  • Tramways
  • PTV service quality
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc




In our April 2024 edition

April Newsrail is yet another big 40-page edition, boasting three feature articles as well as all our regular columns.

A beautiful evening photograph (courtesy Matt Oaten) of Y112 steaming through the appropriately-named Lovely Banks towards Ballarat introduces our main feature article, a history of the class penned by Phil Dunn. This article is the latest in the series that Phil has written on the highly-successful “standard” locomotive designs of the 1880s prepared by Edward Jeffreys.

Features Editor Mark Cauchi presents two shorter articles he has written and researched. Once concerns a terrible level crossing accident that occurred in 1940 when a truck carrying petroleum collided with a suburban train. On a much lighter note, Mark explores the earliest railfan-chartered trains, retracing a Cup Day 1938 outing by the Victorian Model Railway Society that is, as far as we know, the first. 

Enthusiast specials are also the subject of our Tourist and Heritage Rail column for this month, with Peter Donald tracing the early history of the Vintage Train, an enthusiast special that gradually led to the establishment of Steamrail. (Peter even tells how the name came about!) 

Our News section covers the commencement of X’Trapolis 2.0 construction in Ballarat while at Newport, things are winding down following the completion of the last of the 70 HCMT sets. We also look at a near miss that took place on the Belgrave Line, the future of sleeping cars on the Melbourne to Sydney Route, the design of the new Melton Station, and more.

Our other regular sections are there:

  • General works
  • Operations and sightings
  • Tramways
  • PTV service quality
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc




In our March 2024 edition

March Newsrail is another big 40-page edition, packed with great content.

Our superb cover photo (by John Kirk, courtesy Journey Beyond) and lead news story concerns the special arrangements that Metro, V/Line, Yarra Trams and Journey Beyond made to ensure that 288,000 “Swifties” (Taylor Swift fans) were efficiently transported to and from the MCG to attend the three concerts of the pop megastar.

Chris Banger has produced another of his definitive railway history articles, being a feature on the Ballarat Cattle Yards/Redan Line. Beginning as a short siding to serve a mine just west of Ballarat, the line was repeatedly extended with further sidings branching off to various industries and saw an interesting variety of motive power and freight traffic over the decades. Beautifully illustrated with photographs of rail operations dating back to the 1940s, Chris’ article includes statistics, timetables, and even details of special passenger trains that ventured along the line over the years.

While we were putting this edition together, we received the sad news that Geoff Oliver has passed away. After a long career in technical and engineering roles with Victorian Railways and V/Line, Geoff retired in 1999 to pursue his two passions: volunteering with Steamrail Victoria on projects such as the restoration of A2 986, and railway photography, with Geoff providing many beautiful images to Newsrail over the years. In its recent newsletter Steamrail published a wonderful tribute to Geoff, and now we at Newsrail present our own tribute with a collection of some of our favourite photographs from Geoff’s collection.

Our Tourist and Heritage Rail article this month looks at the efforts of the Friends of the Goulburn Valley Rail Trail to honour the history of the route of the former Mansfield Line through the installation of station nameboards at former station sites along the route. The nameboards are an authentic recreation of the white-on-black VR originals.

Our other regular sections are there:

  • General works
  • Operations and sightings
  • Tramways
  • PTV service quality
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc





In our February 2024 edition

Our February edition has an exciting mix of present-day and historic articles.

This month’s cover photo, by Matt Oaten, leads into a report for our Tourist and Heritage Rail column from Steamrail Victoria’s Noah Clancey. 2024 marks 50 years of restoration of heritage rolling stock for main line use, and Steamrail will have much of the product of these efforts on display at next month’s Newport Workshops Open Days event.

Our main feature article is another magnificent article about the travels of legendary railfan Charles Gavan Duffy. In 1897, aged just 10, Gavan Duffy and his younger brother went on an expedition, walking along the entire length of the closed (but only partially dismantled) Outer Circle Railway. Gavan Duffy retraced his steps in 1924, and noted many changes. The article is superbly illustrated with photographs from many and varied sources.

Our occasional Photo in focus column makes a return this month, and it’s an absolute cracker! Taking our centre pages, a photo of Spencer Street Station, circa 1900, has a wealth of fascinating detail that Trevor Penn interprets for the reader.

We also have a second feature article courtesy of Nick Anchen, who is well-known for the wonderful tales and anecdotes he has compiled into books and articles over the years. This month, Nick presents the story of fireman Ron George, who tells of a particularly difficult day at the office when running the morning Up Lancefield passenger service.

Our News section has a number of stories, including the completion of Arden Station, details of Victoria’s record grain harvest and the arrangements made for rail freight, and Alstom’s success in securing the V/Line maintenance contract for the next decade.

Our other regular sections are there:

  • General works
  • Operations and sightings
  • Tramways
  • PTV service quality
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc





In our January 2024 edition

Buy an individual print copy of January 2024 Newsrail here

For January, we have yet another big 40-page edition jam-packed with great reading.

This month’s cover photo, by Scott Gould, introduces our first feature, which marks the end of locomotive-hauled services to Bacchus Marsh. Mark Cauchi has put together an article, and Mark and Scott have both provided some great photos.

Our main feature article is a large-scale photo essay and memoir by Andrew Blair, John Thompson and John Hearsch on the rail tours of the late Tom Murray. Tom, as a schoolboy during the 1950s, reformed the Scotch College model railway club into a railfan organisation that arranged tours to various far-flung parts of the VR network, and he became widely known as “Tom Train”. Many of the locations visited by Tom’s tours can no longer be reached by rail, indeed, Andrew Blair’s photos of the Cudgewa Line tour record locations such as Old Tallangatta which today lie beneath the waters of Lake Hume. Each of the authors has provided photos from their own collection, and there are some absolutely stunning images in the collection!

Our Tourist and heritage rail column continues to check in on interesting restoration projects currently underway. This month we’re back to Bellarine Railway for an update on the restoration of the Australian Standard Garratt locomotive and Car 19. The Bellarine Railway workshop will open to the public on the weekend of 6 and 7 February 2024.

Our other regular sections are there:

  • General works
  • Operations and sightings
  • Tramways
  • PTV service quality
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc





In our December 2023 edition

Buy an individual print copy of December 2023 Newsrail here

For December, we have another big 40-page edition jam-packed with great reading.

Our cover features a beautiful photo by Rebekah Hamilton of steam locomotive J549 at work on the Victorian Goldfields Railway. We feature a special report this month on the tremendous work that the VGR has done in recent months to overhaul the loco and ready it for a return to service in 2024.

The first of our three feature articles for this month is on the New A Class express passenger locomotive, one of the five “standard” designs prepared for Victorian Railways in the late 1880s by Edward Jeffries of Kitson & Co. Author Phil Dunn, who is completing a series on these VR standard designs, explores the history and features of these locomotives. The New A Class shared many parts with other standard classes, the D Class 4-4-0, E Class 2-4-2, R and Y Class 0-6-0 locomotives, which greatly simplified maintenance and helped to make the New A locomotives a great success, each one in the class providing over thirty years of service.

Phil has also prepared a short biography on Edward Jeffries and the benefits that his locomotive designs brough to the VR. Prior to the standard designs of Jeffries, the VR had no fewer than 25 different types of locomotive, and was experiencing significant issues with keeping parts inventories and maintenance procedures for such a diverse range of locomotives.

Our final feature article is by Ross Rowley, who takes us back to the Victorian Railways of the early 1970s and his time as the Station Master at Birregurra. It is a view back to a time when the local railway station was the centre of many a town, and its Station Master a key person in the local community. As you can imagine, Ross has a few interesting stories, including a hilarious one involving a champion greyhound entrusted to the care of the VR for transport interstate.

Our other regular sections are there:

    • General works
    • Operations and sightings
    • Tramways
    • PTV service quality
    • Where is it?
    • Taildisc





In our November 2023 edition

Buy an individual print copy of November 2023 Newsrail here

Our November edition, another 40-page special, celebrates the 150th anniversary of the opening of the North East Line to Wodonga with a wonderful cover photo by Vicki Wangman of the SRHC-operated commemorative special.

We mark the sesquicentenary of the line with an article on a notable aspect of its operation that is often overlooked: its introduction of the Train Staff and Ticket safeworking system to Victoria. Introduced to ensure safe operation of trains on a single-track railway, the system has been a feature of Victorian rail operations for a century and a half, and is still in use on V/Line’s Bairsdale and Ararat passenger routes.

We conclude our epic two-part article on Melbourne’s E Trains. Part Two explores the use of Swing Door electric passenger cars to haul freight around the Melbourne suburban network, some accidents and incidents involving the trains,  as well as the commemorative runs that followed the end of E Train operations.

Our News section reports on the commencement of train operations using High Capacity Signalling between South Yarra and Clayton.

Our tourist and heritage rail column features a report from Newport Railway Museum’s Nick Hewitt on the extension of its main roof canopy, which will soon enable another seven exhibits to be protected from the elements.

Our other regular sections are there:

    • General works
    • Operations and sightings
    • Tramways
    • PTV service quality
    • Where is it?
    • Taildisc





In our October 2023 edition

Buy an individual print copy of October 2023 Newsrail here

For October, we have another big 40-page Newsrail that we’re calling our special Electric Edition.

Mark Cauchi, Ray Ryan and Des Jowett have produced perhaps the definitive work on the E trains. A once-familiar sight to Melbourne commuters, the E trains were pairs of Swing Door motor cars that hauled country passenger or goods trains over the electrified suburban network, in effect acting as a locomotive, in lieu of a conventional steam locomotive. We present the first part of their article in this edition, with the second part to appear in our November edition. As well as an exceptionally well-researched article, there is a simply magnificent selection of photographs dating from the 1930s to the 1960s.

And for those who wanted just that little bit more of Melbourne’s beloved “red trains”, there’s a short feature by Jim Foley on an artwork commissioned to commemorate ‘The Mickey’, the affectionate nickname given by locals to the Kew electric train.

Our News section features a story on the North East Line, where the 130 km/h Class 2 line standard is potentially at risk of reverting to ARTC freight standard due to a lack of agreement between State and Federal Governments over responsibility for maintenance funding.

We also have a major report from Railway and Tramway Heritage Victoria on an exciting new development for our tourist and heritage rail sector. Vast quantities of ballast that was once headed for landfill is now being cleaned for reuse on our state’s tourist and heritage branch lines. And used main line rail retrieved from projects such as level crossing removals is now being cascaded through the sector, enabling major upgrades and extensions to proceed.

Our other regular sections are there:

    • General works
    • Operations and sightings
    • Tramways
    • PTV service quality
    • Where is it?
    • Taildisc



In our September 2023 edition

Buy an individual print copy of September 2023 Newsrail here

For September we have a 40-page edition packed full with interesting content.

Our front cover headlines the news that V/Line is looking to repurpose the N Class locomotive fleet for broad gauge freight use. Our News and announcements section has details of the current EOI process, with up to 19 of V/Line’s N Class and all three its P Class locomotives up for grabs by broad gauge rail freight operators.

1 September 2023 marks exactly 125 years since NA Class locomotives 1A and 2A were added to the Victorian Railways register. As our article discovers, they had been put together in an incredibly rapid time; from VR signing a contract with the local agent of Baldwin Locomotive Works on 1 April 1898, Baldwin had the locomotives drawn up, built, tested, photographed and ready to be shipped to Australia by the end of May!

The locomotives came supplied in a highly varnished olive-green livery from Baldwin, with detail touches such as real gold leaf lining and planished iron boiler cladding. They also featured some wonderfully American touches such as huge wooden cowcatchers, fitted front and rear. With thanks to David Fletcher, we have drawings that show exactly what the Baldwin livery looked like.  Both a simple expansion and Vauclain compound version were supplied, and our article includes a copy of comparative test results.

This edition has two features on VR’s transport of petrochemicals. We have a large feature from Ken Russell which will probably be THE definitive article on the VR and V/Line fleet of bitumen tankers, which once transported bitumen from oil refineries to the far flung corners of the state for use on road projects. The transport of bitumen involved a whole range of special logistical arrangements, which Ken discusses.

We also have a feature by Chris Banger on the World War 2-era inland fuel store at Violet Town, served by a rail siding roughly one mile on the Melbourne side of the station.

Rounding out our special features, there’s also a summary of the recent ATSB final report on the 2020 Wallan derailment.

Our other regular sections are there:

    • Tourist and heritage rail (with a special report on the turntable delivered to Yarra Glen)
    • General works
    • Operations and sightings
    • Tramways
    • PTV service quality
    • Where is it?
    • Taildisc





In our August 2023 edition

Buy an individual print copy of August 2023 Newsrail here

Our cover story for August concerns the recent reactivation of A62 by Seven-O-Seven Operations. We’ve been following this project at Newsrail for a while, and had previously reported on the prime mover being started, and the locomotive then moving under its own power for the first time. On 1 July, A62 ventured out on to the main line for the first time in preservation. Read the details in our Tourist and heritage rail column in the August edition, along with some updates from the Bellarine Railway on a couple of their key projects.

Our News and announcements section looks at the first trains entering the new Metro Tunnel, a proposal recently discussed in the South Australian Parliament to replace The Overland with a high-speed tilt train, and some of the varying consequences of the recently-introduced $9.20 (now ($10) price cap for regional public transport in Victoria.

Our main feature article this month is by Graham Bishop, a man who began his VR career in the 1950s as a member of the Malmsbury Track Gang. Graham takes us back to another era, long before track maintenance was outsourced to contractors, with some interesting anecdotes and humorous tales along the way. Graham’s track gang was responsible for the line over both Malmsbury and Taradale Viaducts, and Graham tells us some rather interesting details about the construction of the Taradale Viaduct.

With the new Glen Huntly Station having just opened, Dave Macartney presents a story on its predecessor and its goods yard. Dave’s article is illustrated with a beautiful selection of photos, including a number that Dave took himself.

We also have another instalment in the Photos in Focus series, with Trevor Penn this month looking at repeating signals in a couple of locations.

Our other regular sections are there:

    • General works
    • Operations and sightings
    • Tramways
    • PTV service quality
    • Where is it?
    • Taildisc