"All Aboard" - The whistle blows as another slice of history passes.

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 22, 2017 at 20:41
ThreadID: 135126 Views:2176 Replies:3 FollowUps:3
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OK, not strictly 4x4 but it’s certainly travel and a slice of history passing in front of our eyes.

I’m unashamedly Mallee raised spending my formative years in Mildura. Right up until the 90’s, the railway system was the lifeblood of the Mallee and for us Majoora-ites, the best form of public transport down to the ‘Big Smoke’. Leaving at 9:30 p.m. the Vinelander passenger service would pull out of Mildura station for an overnight trip down to Melbourne.

Many a school trip was taken on the Vinelander as were trips to visit relatives during the school holidays. On many occasions across the 60’s and 70’s, the nights spent in the compartments of the red rattler carriages or the newer saloon cars in the 70’s were exciting adventures for we kids.

In the 80’s when I took up a Govt job in Melbourne, you were occasionally provided with a “roomette” in the sleeper car. What service with the bed made, breakfast and the paper delivered and even the shoes polished if you left them out. What an experience and one that’s all but disappeared from the modern travel experience with cut price airfares and buses replacing rail.

I always lamented the loss of the Vinelander and all passengers services to Mildura in the 1990’s. It was a travel experience you can only find on the long hauls across Australia these days.

Why do I wax lyrical about this, well the ‘Operations 707’ group, otherwise known as the Newport Rail Preservation Society are conducting a weekend train trip to Murrayville on 21-22 July to Farwell the old Murrayville Branch line that is being lost due to the Murray Basin rail standardisation project.

As guardians of much of the retired V-Line rolling stock, it will be a trip down memory lane (or rail line) with the old twinette, roomette, dining and saloon cars all being put back into service for the occasion. The trip will head up to Ouyen before heading out to Murrayville for a celebration and dinner at the pub before commencing the trip home.

This is doubly memorable for me as I spent a few years working in Ouyen and as I was dating a girl whose dad was head of the Ouyen Loco office, I had the chance to spend many a day travelling various branch lines across the Mallee at the pointy end of a loco hauling 5000 tonnes or more of grain and goods.
Like many so much in this day and age, the old things are passing but this is one little piece of history I’m going to be a part of.


Details are here;Farewell to Murrayville Branch Line


Cheers and all aboard…..Mick.


''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Thursday, Jun 22, 2017 at 21:24

Thursday, Jun 22, 2017 at 21:24
Aren't they reopening the Murrayville Branch and I heard word they were pushing for a passenger service to Mildura again
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Jun 22, 2017 at 21:53

Thursday, Jun 22, 2017 at 21:53
Rail lines across the basin are being converted from Broad gauge to standard gauge to allow greater axle tonnage on the lines. This means they will become freight lines and the Broad gauge rolling stock that Victoria employs for it's passenger trains will no longer be capable of using those lines (unless they are converted to standard gauge rolling stock). Mind you there hasn't been a passenger service to Murrayville since god knows when.

The Mildura line is also up for conversion I believe. People have been making noise about getting a passenger service reinstated (usually a political promise by those seeking election) but it has absolutely no traction other than during the summer fruit harvest period when they would occasionally put on a passenger service to get hundreds of fruit pickers up to the area. But even that hasn't happened in the last decade that I can recall. The line will remain a freight line.

With three airlines servicing Sunraysia with up to six flights daily and at a cost of only $80 each way on a good day, I can't see a passenger service ever succeeding again. V-Line still operate a passenger service from Mildura but its by road on a coach. The rail line would need a lot of work to make it feasible (it's currently speed restricted to 50 kph or thereabouts due to its condition) and at todays costs....well schools, police and health are more important priorities for governments.

Cheers
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Jun 22, 2017 at 21:55

Thursday, Jun 22, 2017 at 21:55
P.S. I'm being nostalgic, not pragmatic. A benefit of age I guess. Surely everything was better in the old days :-)
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Reply By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 08:33

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 08:33
Wonderful little piece of history Mick, thanks for sharing. Will we see you at Ooldea in October to commemorate the centenary of the completion of the Trans Railway?
Paul B Kalgoorlie

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Follow Up By: Mick O - Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:02

Friday, Jun 23, 2017 at 22:02
Cheers Paul. That little bit of history isn't wasted on me given my appreciation of the travels of Mssrs Giles and Maurice (and others) through that area. I'd love to be there but given I am being a dutiful husband in 2017 and celebrating the occasion of my wife's 50th year by showering her with overseas holidays, my chance of getting an extra 10 days for a trip to Ooldea is looking slim. Mind you if anyone can pull it off, it's probably me!

Safe travels to you my friend (and keep an eye out for the tuck truck at Ooldea :-)

Mick
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Reply By: Tony T3 - Sunday, Jun 25, 2017 at 10:37

Sunday, Jun 25, 2017 at 10:37
Great post.
I was Victorian VLine Manager responsible for Trading/Catering towards the end of the era of online catering, amongst other things.
Country train catering plus the full onboard dining experience on interstate trains with wonderful dining cars now long gone in Vic, but it was a great way to travel.
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