In our January edition

Our January 2021 edition is now on its way out to subscribers and retail outlets!

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

In our December 2020 edition

In our December 2020 edition we have two feature articles from authors well-known to Newsrail readers:

  • John Anderson, who authored one of the main articles in our November 2019 North Melbourne Locomotive Depot edition, has written another nostalgic piece about his days as a schoolboy railfan. This time, he recounts his expedition out of suburban Melbourne (using the AEC railmotor that connected the then-Fawkner line to Somerton) to get a chance to see the Spirit out in the open countryside. John also shares some photos belonging to his friend Roger Parish, who as a schoolboy went on similar expeditions with his father, who, fortunately for us, brought his trusty Kodak Box Brownie.
  • Norman Houghton has another of his fascinating profiles of a long-gone station, this time it’s Emu, situated between Maryborough and St Arnaud on the Mildura line. Today it’s just a passing loop, but as Norman shows, it was once a relatively busy transport hub for local communities. More recently, it was also the site of a major derailment.

There’s also your favourite columns:

  • December anniversaries
  • News and announcements
  • Rolling stock (with recent news on C501, S311, and PN XR and X class)
  • PTV reliability
  • Tramways
  • Preservation (with an update on the ASG locomotive restoration)
  • Photo in focus (looking at a wonderful image of the Outer Circle Railway)
  • Taildisc

This month’s striking front cover photo was provided by Croft Structures, builders of the beautiful roof that forms the new Shed 21 at Bombardier’s Dandenong South facility.

 

In our November 2020 edition

The main feature article for our November 2020 edition concerns the construction of the direct, cross-country line between Horsham and Hamilton which opened 100 years ago, on 19 November 1920. Michael Guiney, who previously authored two of the feature articles in our May 2019 Centenary of Electrification edition, has put together an exceptionally well-researched article on the construction, operation and eventual demise of the line, including the legislative requirements that governed its construction.

For the third time this year, we’ve had so much content to fit in that we’ve had to go beyond the usual 32 pages. Features Editor Mark Cauchi assembled a beautiful collection of photographs for Michael’s article, including steam-era black and white photos by Don Frazer and Andrew Blair, and later diesel-era colour photos from the collections of Geoff Winkler, Weston Langford, and the Geelong & South Western Railway Heritage Society. The photos were so good we couldn’t decide which ones to leave in and leave out, so we instead put an extra four pages in to allow enough space for them all to be properly appreciated. We’re pretty confident our readers will be glad that we did!

Also in this edition, we also have another of Norman Houghton’s ‘Ghost Stations’ series of articles; this time Norman profiles Poorneet, a long-gone station just beyond Cressy on the windswept so-called “Pleurisy Plains”.

There’s also your favourite columns:

  • Calendar anniversaries
  • News and announcements
  • PTV stats
  • Rail works
  • Tramways
  • Operations and sightings
  • Preservation news
  • Taildisc

Our cover photograph shows the famous heritage-listed steam locomotive H220 Heavy Harry finally getting a long-awaited roof to protect it from the elements; a roof that will also cover several other precious heritage rail exhibits at the Newport Railway Museum.

In our October 2020 edition

October Newsrail – a special 40-page edition – features a series of articles concerning the Bendigo Locomotive Depot, including stories from three former employees whose time there dated from the late 1940s to the early 1990s. These stories are beautifully illustrated as a result of the discovery of a photo collection by George Coop, who took many photographs of the depot in the early 1960s when its turntable was surrounded by Ks, Ns and Js, and Rs were stabled just outside, all awaiting their next assignment. These photos are supplemented by some beautiful images from Geoff Oliver, Brian Goodwin, and Weston Langford. Our cover image is from the collection of the Geelong and South West Railway Heritage Society.

As was our experience last year when preparing a special edition focussed on the North Melbourne Locomotive Depot, there is something of a scarcity of published information on the depot and for this reason, we have also compiled a concise history. We’ve also reproduced in high-resolution A3 format on our centre pages an aerial photograph, circa 1930,  by the famous photographer, Charles Daniel Pratt.

There’s also your favourite columns:

  • Calendar anniversaries
  • News and announcements (including V/Locity design awards and a new push to restore rail to Mt Gambier)
  • Rolling stock (including CLF/CLP reactivation news)
  • PTV stats
  • Rail works
  • Tramways
  • Operations and sightings (including details of the new Peaco and containerised log services)
  • Preservation news
  • Taildisc (with a little extra V/Line orange)

In our September 2020 edition

It’s been quite a long time since V/Line Orange graced the front cover of Newsrail, but this photograph by Alan Greenhill was an ideal choice for a feature article by Jim Foley, who tells of his long-running connection with the South Gippsland railway through its VR, V/Line, and SGR eras. The scenes that Jim’s recollections evoke are beautifully represented with photographs from Alan Greenhill, Peter Enlund, the late Weston Langford, Mark Cauchi, Geoff Oliver, and James Brook.

4 September 2020 marks 160 years since the Victorian Railways Department takeover of the Geelong & Melbourne Railway Company came into effect, an event that represented a pivotal change in the development of our state’s railways, as private operators began to falter and the government began to assume the role as builder and operator of this critical infrastructure. Michael Menzies provides some interesting details of the railway’s early history, such as the the development of the station complex at Geelong, and the three(!) different routes the line took at its Eastern end during its three short years of G&MR Co operation. He also provides some interesting details on the takeover, including some early bureaucratic bungles on the part of the new Victorian Railways.
  • Our Rolling stock column returns in this edition, with details of brand-new PN 93 Class locomotives that are entering service operating interstate freight out of Melbourne, as well as another “new” old locomotive being reactivated by SSR, this time L277.
  • Our General news and Rail works columns feature some magnificent images, courtesy of Level Crossing Removal Project, of major construction works on the Upfield line associated with level crossing removals.
  • And of course the regular columns for Calendar anniversaries, Operations and Sightings, PTV service quality, Tramways, Taildisc and the Where Is It photo are all there.

In our August 2020 edition

Our cover story for August 2020 Newsrail concerns the recently announced decision by Steamrail to conduct a condition assessment on K183, the locomotive involved in the Benalla level crossing tragedy of October 2002, with a view to potentially restoring the locomotive to operating condition. We speak to Steamrail’s Mechanical Manager, Warren Hall, who discusses why K183 is being considered for restoration, and why K class locos are such a good loco for heritage rail operations. Warren discusses what work will be involved in the condition assessment, and how the difficult task of a major steam locomotive overhaul is made easier by the growing level of cooperation and information-sharing between heritage rail groups both locally and internationally.

We have another of Andrew Blair’s wonderful photo essays of a journey along a VR branch line in the 1950s; this time we’re headed for Yarrawonga on a 153hp Walker Railcar. Andrew also retraces his steps 62 years later and finds that while passenger services to Yarrawonga are now a distant memory, silo art has transformed the Devenish and Goorambat station sites with murals of striking beauty and poignancy.

Mark Cauchi presents us with a something of a riddle as he sifts through documentation concerning the installation (and then removal only a few years later) of the  turntable at Lal Lal on the Geelong to Ballarat line. Mark discusses the various potential purposes it could have served, noting the various agricultural, industrial and recreational purposes the railway served in that district.

Greg Michael follows up his recent article on distance measurement on the VR with a visit to the former Ben Nevis to Navarre branch, part of which has now been turned into a roadway where VR concrete mileposts still mark the distance from Melbourne.

Our News section deals with exciting news of the extension of funding for the Overland to 2023, allowing the service to resume once COVID border restrictions allow.

And all your favourite columns are there

  • Rail works (with extensive detail on the infrastructure changes at Mentone/Cheltenham and West Footscray/Tottenham)
  • Tramways
  • PTV service quality
  • Operations and sightings
  • Preservation (as well as K183 news, there is an update on an 1874 carriage body restoration project underway at Ballarat)
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc

Our cover photo was taken by Matt Oaten.

In our July 2020 edition…

Our July edition is a little different from most of our recent editions. There’s no single big feature article, but four “mini” features:

  • The 1920 Royal Tour revisited: Following on from the centenary we noted in our May edition, Michael Guiney presents some fascinating details on the special arrangements for the Prince’s Royal Train, including details of the Special Train circular (“S”) notices. Additional photographs have been kindly provided by the Cressy & District History Group and the Camperdown & District Historical Society.
  • Leongatha to Nyora dismantling: Mark Cauchi captures images of the former Great Southern Railway, the South Gippsland line and an update on planned works as contractors move in and begin to remove the rails.
  • Murgheboluc: Now known to railfans more for the eponymous set of curves just down from the site of the former station, Murgheboluc once played a vital role in Australia’s World War 2 defences. Norman Houghton provides a concise history as part of his ‘Ghost Stations’ series.
  • Gerald Dee Preservation for Posterity: Author John Fowler provides an account of the efforts of his friend and colleague, the late Gerald Dee, to preserve Victoria’s railway history.

We also have reinstated our ‘Rolling stock’ column to record some of the interesting changes already seen in recent months; with the allocation of A60 and A62 to SRHC and 707 Operations being of greatest interest to many.

We publish a series of photographs sent in from Newsrail readers showing the extraordinary pace of works at the former Mentone Station site, where the railway is being sunk beneath nearby Balcombe Road, the station moved 150 metres further along the line, and the heritage-listed former station buildings incorporated into a new “heritage bridge”.

Our Preservation column features progress by the Yarra Valley Railway on repairs to the roof and bodywork of “Super DERM” RM55, which is now under restoration at Healesville after a previous stint at the former South Gippsland Railway.

And of course all your other favourite columns are there:

  • News & Announcements
  • Rail works
  • PTV reliability
  • Tramways
  • Sightings and operations
  • Where is it?
  • Taildisc

Our cover photo this month is by Joshua Doyle.

In our June 2020 edition…

We have three feature articles for the June edition of Newsrail:

  • New long-distance VLocity: with the completion of the North East Line Upgrade by 2021, a new fleet of standard-gauge VLocity carriages will be operating Albury services at speeds of up to 130km/h. Compared to the existing VLocity fleet, the new variant features a significantly revised interior design that better suits the needs of the long-distance passenger, with catering facilities, folding tables, USB charging and mobile boosting facilities, to name a few features.
  • June 2020 marks 100 years since the opening of the Kulwin railway line, a railway through Mallee wheat-growing districts which today still remains, albeit closed to traffic beyond Sea Lake. We present a concise history of the line and the district, illustrated by a wonderful collection of historic photographs from the 1960s to the 21st Century.
  • The Selkirk Siding: an interesting history of both the Selkirk brickworks in Ballarat and the railway siding that was built to service it. It is a tale of a local industry that flourished as a result of its connection to the railway network, but which ultimately found new technologies that did away with the need for that rail connection.

There’s also an update on the work being done to restore Australian Standard Garratt locomotive G33 to operating condition, news on the reopening of the Dimboola-Rainbow section of the Yapeet line, comprehensive details of recent works on the Warrnambool line, along with tramway news, calendar anniversaries, letters from readers and the always-interesting “Where is it?” photo.

If you’re interested in subscribing to Newsrail, please visit our main page to register your contact details there; we’ll be happy to organise your subscription from there.

This month’s wrap-around cover photo features a pair of GM Class locomotives hauling the AK inspection cars, and was taken by Marcus Wong.

In our May 2020 edition…

We’re delighted to announce that our May 2020 edition has so much great content, we’ve expanded from 32 to 36 pages to fit it all in.

  • Our cover features The Overland making its final run through Serviceton station and into South Australia just a couple of hours before the border closed at 4pm on 24 March for COVID-19, and government funding for the service expired a week later. Our opening page has an update on the future of The Overland – it may yet run again!
  • Our News section has a report on the XPT derailment, and we have a further addendum detailing the various service disruptions that followed in subsequent weeks.
  • The ‘Ick & Wigle’ Tour: a report of a 1956 special railfan tour of inner Melbourne lines (some now closed) written by the legendary correspondent Charles Gavan Duffy, with additional notes by Trevor Penn and Les Poole. It is beautifully illustrated with photographs by Ian Barkla, Des Jowett, Andrew Blair and the late Brian Goodwin. In 1956 there was no equivalent of the Victorian ‘Newsrail’ magazine, and Gavan Duffy’s submissions to the then national ARHS ‘Bulletin’ magazine were often overlooked. He shared this and many of other works from that era as a typewritten bulletin to a small group of his friends. Now, nearly 64 years later, Gavan Duffy’s report finally gets the prominence it deserves.
  • The 1920 Royal Tour: it was 100 years ago this month that Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) visited Australia, fulfilling a promise he made when serving in World War I alongside Australian and New Zealand soldiers. We commemorate the visit with photos including a beautiful image of A2 1053, just two weeks old and paint barely dry, extensively decorated to haul the Royal Train which visited Geelong, Camperdown, Ballarat and Bendigo.
  • South Australian border closures: Michael Menzies examines the impact of the closure of the SA border on 24 March in response to the COVID-19 emergency, and compares the current pandemic response to the measures taken by authorities in 1919 to control the Spanish Flu pandemic and their impact on cross-border rail services.
  • Our Preservation section includes a commemoration of 50 years of the Geelong Steam Preservation Society. Also, the sad news of a major theft from the N441 locomotive project.
  • …plus regular sections Where Is It, Calendar Anniversaries, Tramways, Taildisc, Operations and Sightings, and our new PTV service reliability summary.