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.
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