Special trains in the Wimmera
|Over recent weekends, local rail enthusiasts had a treat with two special passenger trains visiting the Wimmera.
On Friday evening, a short train consisting of former New South Wales Government Railway’s railmotors NPF621 and NTC721 entered Victoria from the west and passed through Dimboola in darkness at around 6.30 pm before stabling at Horsham for the night.
Their brief stay in the Wimmera only lasted until 8.45 am the following morning when the train departed Horsham, destined for a stop in Melbourne later in the day.
Above - Unfortunately, for the photographers waiting to record the event, Horsham was shrouded in thick fog at the time.
This rail movement was part of the Rail Motor Society’s Tri State Tour, which saw sixty four passengers travel from their base in Paterson in the lower Hunter Valley in New South Wales to Adelaide in South Australia via Broken Hill. They then ventured across into Victoria, including their stop in the Wimmera, and on to Melbourne before returning north to New South Wales.
This was the first occasion these sixty-year-old railmotors had made their way into Western Victoria.
Over the previous weekend of May 21 and 22, in conjunction with Murtoa’s 150th celebrations, the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre operated the Wimmera Weekender train (pictured below) to that town with two trips onto the Hopetoun branch line that had not seen a passenger train for almost thirty years after the last similar train ran in March 1994 when the Australian Railway Historical Society ran a tour using a railmotor and a single passenger coach to mark the centenary of the opening of the railway line between Beulah and Hopetoun.
Passengers who travelled from Seymor or joined the train during stops in Melbourne and Geelong had the opportunity to experience the 150th celebrations in Murtoa and visit the town’s attractions such as the famous Stick Shed during the Saturday afternoon while the train operated a return shuttle trip north to Warracknabeal.
On Sunday, the main tour ventured back out on the branch again destined for Beulah, with a stop to pick up more passengers at Warracknabeal. While the passengers enjoyed lunch, the locomotives were marshalled in preparation for the southward journey. After a brief stop back on the mainline at Murtoa, the train continued back to Seymour via Melbourne.
Stops were also made at both Brim and Sheep Hills to give passengers a chance to view the silo art.
The train was hauled by heritage diesel-electric locomotives S303, T357 and P22, all in the classic Victorian Railways blue and gold, and the passengers were accommodated in vintage passenger carriages from 1937 that once graced the original Spirit of Progress trains between Melbourne and Albury as part of the rail journey to Sydney.
This article also appeared on the Dimboola Courier.