Puffing Billy turns 40

<p>Famous Victorian steam train Puffing Billy celebrated its 40 th anniversary as a tourist attraction on July 7.</p> <p>The day was marked with a special re-enactment journey from Belgrave to Menzies Creek.</p> <p>Since it began operating as a tourist service in 1962, Puffing Billy has carried almost 7m passengers.</p> <p>The state government recently granted over $100,000 to give people training while they improved the railway through the Dandenongs.</p> <p>Puffing Billy started life in 1900, moving timber, farm produce and nursery products.</p> <br />

Victorian rail technical society AGM tomorrow

<p>The Victorian division of the Railway Technical Society of Australasia is holding its annual general meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, July 17).</p> <p>A representative from the State Department of Infrastructure will be the guest speaker and will discuss issues including standardisation.</p> <p>The society’s national AGM will be held in conjunction with CORE 2002 in November.</p> <br />

Bradken opens Hamilton facility

<p>Bradken Rail officially opened its Newcastle maintenance facility at Hamilton this month.</p> <p>The workshop has a 4,000 sq metre undercover area and a cranage capacity in excess of 55 tonnes.</p> <p>Company officials attending the event included executive manager Steve Burraston and board member Nick Greiner.</p> <br />

General Motors station closing

<p>M>Train and the Victorian Department of Infrastructure are investigating the potential redevelopment of General Motors railway station.</p> <p>The station, on the Pakenham line, will close on July 28. </p> <p>Station patronage has fallen to 11 customers a day since the General Motors-Holden plant closed in 1991. </p> <p>The station is also considered unsafe for use, with no safe access paths to and from the station.</p> <p>M>Train is trying to ensure alternate transport arrangements exist for the few passengers who use the station.</p> <p>A new and improved station could be opened at the existing site or close by if the surrounding area is every developed with either industry or housing. </p> <p>The study will assess its potential.</p> <p>M>Train estimates $1m is needed to bring the station back to acceptable condition and this is money that can be better spent at this time on higher patronage stations.</p> <br />

Abt Railway sale draws closer

<p>The $1.8m in Tasmanian Government loans to the Abt Railway will be repaid next month under a proposed Federal Hotels Group buy-out.</p> <p>Premier Jim Bacon said the sale, which can not be officially approved until after the state election, is the best outcome for the railway.</p> <p>Federal Group concluded negotiations to purchase the lease from the present operator last week.</p> <p>"The deal secures the long-term future of the wilderness railway," Mr Bacon said.</p> <p>"Federal Hotels has the experience, the capital and the enthusiasm to make the railway a tourism icon for Tasmania."</p> <p>Track and associated infrastructure will remain in government ownership.</p> <p>Federal transport minister John Anderson has bought into the state election and condemned the Tasmanian management of the railway.</p> <p>The Labor government presided over secret loan deals, could not account for its spending and allowed the project to run into an endless series of financial and operational debacles, he said last week.</p> <p>Mr Anderson has stepped up the pressure and this week publicly accused the Tasmanian Government of misleading the Commonwealth over $1.8m in loans to the Abt Railway.</p> <p>Progress reports the Tasmanian Government submitted did not disclose the loans, he said.</p> <p>The Federal Government contributed more than $20m to the project and under the terms of the funding deal was supposed to be kept up-to-date.</p> <p>Mr Anderson said the final Commonwealth payment could now be suspended until all details of the loans are disclosed.</p> <br />

Rail to return to West Swanson Dock

<p>The rail connection to P&#38O Ports’ West Swanson Dock terminal in Melbourne will be restored. </p> <p>The $20m project will be completed by the end of the year.</p> <p>Melbourne handles about 20% of its total throughput by rail, and P&#38O Ports depends on road to move containers to the Dynon rail terminals.</p> <p>Victorian ports minister Candy Broad said that the State Government wants to increase rail handling of box traffic to 30% by 2010.</p> <p>The original rail line into West Swanson was removed in the early 1990s because its position interfered with container operations. </p> <p>The new West Swanson rail project will involve construction by Melbourne Port Corporation (MPC) of a 1,500-metre dual-gauge rail track along an existing rail reservation on the south side of Footscray Road, from Appleton Dock rail to the west side of Dock Link Road. </p> <p>The MPC will also build a dual-gauge siding east of Dock Link road for shunting trains. </p> <p>P&#38O TransAustralia will build an intermodal terminal on the west side of Dock Link Road to Dahlenburg Street. </p> <p>The MPC also plans to call for tenders to build a rail link to the Victoria Dock redevelopment. </p> <p>The Victoria Dock railhead will be suitable for shorthaul shuttle operators as well as longhaul trains. </p> <br />

Wodonga rail bypass given go-ahead

<p>Planning permission has been given to move railway lines from the centre of Wodonga to a new location north of the Hume Highway.</p> <p>The $50m Wodonga rail bypass is designed to relocate rail operations from the city centre.</p> <p>Victorian Government approval followed public consultation and studies of the projects impact on heritage areas and the environment.</p> <br />

Rail crash investigation will be speedy

<p>Findings from the investigation into the Hunter Valley train crash last week are expected to be released publicly within a matter of days.</p> <p>A spokesman for CityRail said the inquiry will be completed very quickly and the report widely circulated.</p> <p>NSW rail safety regulator Kent Donaldson is conducting the investigation.</p> <p>In the accident on Friday, a passenger train collided with a derailed Pacific National coal train near Hexham and nine people required hospital treatment. </p> <p>No one was seriously injured.</p> <p>The derailment took place seven minutes before the passenger train arrived and the media has raised the question why its driver did not receive a warning.</p> <p>The investigation will include whether a key recommendation of the Glenbrook report relating to two-way radios had been ignored.</p> <p>After reviewing the 1999 tragedy in which seven people died, Justice Peter McInerney said all trains &#8211 freight and passenger &#8211 must by connected to the same radio frequency for emergency communication.</p> <br />

Bridge will link road, rail and port

<p>A $4.5m bridge will be built at Barnes Road in North Altona to help get trucks off local roads and improve road and rail links to the port of Melbourne.</p> <p>Once the bridge is built, freight can be railed close to the port before being moved on a purpose-built road for the final leg of the journey.</p> <p>The Victorian Government will contribute $1.5m to the project, with the rest coming from industry and Hobsons Bay Council.</p> <p>A Dynon hub masterplan is also being developed to improve transport links. </p> <p>The 10-year blueprint will be presented to the government within three months.</p> <p>These initiatives were announced at Ports Agenda 2002 last week.</p> <br />

M&gt&semicolanTrain takes time out for tea

<p>M>Train is making its managers socialise with the public in a bid to understand what passengers really want.</p> <p>Customers will be able to take morning tea with managers on station platforms around Melbourne during July and August.</p> <p>M>Train general manager Michael Bailey said the idea has been tested at some stations and been welcomed by commuters as an opportunity to provide feedback.</p> <p>The morning tea sessions will take place in the morning peak period between 6.30 and 8.30.</p> <br />