Western Victorian Railfan Guide

Overland train gains reprieve for another three years

Article Category  Western Victorian Railfan Guide > Articles
Date Published  Monday 6th July 2020
\Photo"  Western Victorian Railfan Guide

Overland train gains reprieve for another three years

After months of speculation, a new funding deal was announced, on the day that the previous arrangement ran out, to keep the Overland passenger train going for another three years.

This iconic train first ran between Melbourne and Adelaide in 1887 as the Inter-Colonial Express which was shortened to the Adelaide- or Melbourne-Express (depending upon which city it was traveling to), and took on its current identity as The Overland in 1926.

The future of this service, which had been jointly funded by the governments of the two states it operates in since 2000, was put in doubt in late 2018 with the South Australian government withdrawing their contribution and the Victorian government’s refusal to make any significant long term commitment.

This latest announcement only guarantees to maintain the current two trains per week in each direction, a far cry from when it operated as seven scheduled trains in each direction per week, with additional trains run in times of high demand.

This funding will allow the service, which stops en-route at Murray Bridge, Bordertown, Nhill, Dimboola, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat, and North Shore in Geelong, to continue to run for the next three years, but with no indication that the frequency will be increased or the scheduling improved to provide a more convenient service for those living in these towns.

Now the challenge is for those advocating for the continuation of this train to use it over the next three years to justify its future.

The service is currently operated by Australian tourist experience operator Journey Beyond Rail which also operates the Indian-Pacific, Ghan, and Great Southern tourist trains, all of which are currently not running due to the Coronavirus restrictions. With the South Australian border presently closed it is unclear when The Overland will resume.