The Victorian Railways (VR), trading from 1974 as VicRail, was the state-owned operator of most rail transport in the Australian state of Victoria from 1859 to 1983. The first railways in Victoria were private companies, but when these companies failed or defaulted, the Victorian Railways was established to take over their operations. Most of the lines operated by the Victorian Railways were of 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm). However, the railways also operated up to five 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge lines between 1898 and 1962, and a 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge line between Albury and Melbourne from 1961.

Victorian Railways
VicRail (1974–83)
Company typeState-owned enterprise
PredecessorDepartment of Railways
Founded1859; 165 years ago (1859)
Defunct1 July 1983 (1983-07-01)
FateSplit into MTA and STA, then MTA was merged into MMTB to form The Met.
Headquarters67 Spencer Street,
Area served
  • Victorian Railways Commissioners (1883–1973)
  • Victorian Railways Board (1973–83)

History edit

Formation edit

A Department of Railways was created in 1856 with the first appointment of staff. British engineer, George Christian Darbyshire was made first Engineer-in-Chief in 1857, and steered all railway construction work until his replacement by Thomas Higinbotham in 1860. In late 1876, New York consulting engineer Walton Evans arranged the supply of two 4-4-0 locomotives manufactured by the Rogers Locomotive Works of New Jersey, US to the Victorian Railways.[1]

Because of political turmoil in the Victorian Government, Higginbotham was one of 137 officials removed from office on Black Wednesday on 8 January 1878 when the Government was denied supply. He, like a number of other senior officers, was not reappointed.[2][3] Robert Watson then took over as Engineer-in-Chief. But in 1880, a new Ministry expressed a wish to redress the injustice by re-instating Higginbotham. However, at the sudden death of Higginbotham in 1880, William Elsdon took over for two years before his retirement in 1882, and Watson then returned to his former position as Engineer-in-Chief, which he held up to the time of his death.

On 1 November 1883, assent was given to the Victorian Railways Commissioners Act 1883, 47 Vic., No.767, to construct, maintain and manage the state's railways. The staff of the Department of Railways came under the authority of the Railway Commissioners, which became commonly known as Victorian Railways. The elaborate headquarters at 67 Spencer Street were opened in 1893.[4]

Growth edit

The Spirit of Progress headed by S301 Sir Thomas Mitchell near Kilmore East in 1938
Head office at 67 Spencer Street

Victorian Railways grew to service all parts of the state, even extending some lines into New South Wales under the 1922 Border Railways Act. In the late 19th century, the railways became something of a political football with politicians demanding new lines to be built in places where traffic levels never justified it. In 1864, there was just 254 miles (409 km) of railway. The system expanded rapidly to reach 2,900 route miles (4,670 km) by 1891 and to its greatest extent of 4,755 route miles (7652 km) in 1939. The result was that by the beginning of the 20th century, no Victorian (apart from those in the mountain regions) was more than 25 miles (42 km) from a railway line. The period from the end of the 1930s saw a slow decline in route mileage as unprofitable branches were closed.

Conversion of the Melbourne suburban system to electric operation commenced in 1919 and was completed by 1930, creating what was claimed at the time to be the world's largest electric suburban rail system. 1937 saw the introduction of the streamlined Spirit of Progress passenger train, with air conditioning and all steel carriage construction. Diesel power was introduced in 1951 with ten F-class diesel-electric shunting locomotives, followed by B-class mainline diesel-electric locomotives in 1952/53. A standard gauge line connecting to the New South Wales system was constructed in 1961 allowing through trains to operate between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia's two largest cities, for the first time. The last steam locomotive was withdrawn in 1972.

Demise edit

In May 1973, the Railways (Amendment) Act 1972 passed the management of the Railways from the Victorian Railways Commissioners to a Victorian Railways Board. In 1974, the Victorian Railways was rebranded as VicRail, but the royal blue and gold livery used on rolling stock was retained until 1981.[5]

In 1983, VicRail was divided into two—the State Transport Authority taking responsibility for the provision of country rail and road, passenger and freight services, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority taking over suburban passenger operations.

The State Transport Authority traded under the V/Line name, while the Metropolitan Transit Authority used that name until the Public Transport Corporation ("The Met") was formed in 1989. Between 1996 and 1999, V/Line and The Met were privatised. V/Line Passenger was franchised to National Express, returning to government ownership in 2002. The V/Line Freight division was sold to Freight Victoria and is now owned by Pacific National. The infrastructure is now managed by VicTrack with the interstate rail freight infrastructure leased to the Australian Rail Track Corporation. Metro Trains Melbourne now operates the suburban railway network.

Management edit

Norman Charles Harris

When first formed in 1857, the management of the Railways Department was initially vested in the President of the Board of Land and Works, this situation remaining until 1884.[6] With the passing of the Victorian Railways Commissioners Act 1883, a board of four commissioners was put in charge, responsible to the Minister of Railways (the Minister of Transport from 1935 onwards).[7]

The Chairman of Commissioners of the Victorian Railways were:[8][9]

  • Richard Speight: 1883 to 1892
  • Richard Hodge Francis: 1892 to 1894
  • James Syder: 1894 to 1896
  • John Mathieson: 1896 to 1901
  • William Francis Joseph Fitzpatrick: 1901 to 1903
  • Thomas James Tait: 1903 to 1910
  • William Francis Joseph Fitzpatrick: 1910 to 1915
  • Charles Ernest Norman: 1915 to 1920
  • Harold Winthrop Clapp: 1920 to 1939
  • Norman Charles Harris: 1940 to 1950
  • Robert George Wishart: 1950 to 1955
  • Edgar Henry Brownbill: 1956 to 1967
  • George Frederick Brown: 1967 to 1973

After the Bland Report of 1972, in May 1973 the Railways (Amendment) Act 1972 passed the management of the Railways from the Victorian Railways Commissioners to a Victorian Railways Board. The board could have up to seven members, with six being initially appointed. This remained until 1983 when the board was discontinued under the Transport Act 1983.[9]

Fleet edit

First generation diesel locomotive B60 beside one of the S class steam locomotives it replaced at Seymour in July 1952

The Victorian Railways operated a wide variety of locomotives and rolling stock to provide passenger and goods services. This included equipment acquired from the private companies that built the first railways in Victoria. The majority was the fleet was broad gauge, with a specialised fleet used on the narrow gauge lines. In later years, gauge conversion was used to place stock from the main VR fleet onto standard gauge.

In 1936, the company owned 590 locomotives, 38 railcars, 819 coaches, 716 brake vans and 20,945 goods wagons.[10]

The first locomotives used in the state were small steam locomotives, the majority being imported from the United Kingdom, with later years seeing larger units being built locally.[11] Electric locomotives were acquired with the electrification of the suburban railways, with more powerful units acquired when the mainline to Traralgon was electrified.[11] Dieselisation occurred from 1951, but the B class of 1952 revolutionised main line operations.[11] Apart from the F class shunters, Clyde Engineering had a monopoly on Victorian diesel-electric locomotives,[12] as the Australian licensee of General Motors EMD engines and traction motors, fitting them into locally designed bodies.

Early passenger services were operated with 4 and 6 wheeled "dogbox" passenger carriages, but larger bogie rollingstock started to appear from the turn of the century.[13] On the Melbourne suburban network electric multiple units were introduced speeding up services. Experiments were also made with various diesel and petrol railcars for use on smaller branch lines. By the late 1970s, country passenger services were run down, and older wooden rolling stock was now approaching their use by date. As a result, the New Deal saw modern steel carriages introduced from 1981.[13]

Early wagons were built on four wheeled under frames, but from 1871 bogie vehicles begun to appear.[14] The last four wheeled open wagons were built in 1958,[15] but were not scrapped in large numbers until the 1980s when new bogie wagons replaced them.[16] By 1987, the bogie wagon fleet numbered 5000.[16]

When the Victorian Railways (now known as VicRail) was divided into two in 1983, the Metropolitan Transit Authority received the suburban electric multiple unit fleet, while the State Transport Authority took responsibility for remainder for the provision of country passenger and freight services.

Rollingstock edit

Railcars edit

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed (km/h) Built Number In service Notes
102hp Walker Railmotor   Diesel Broad 72 1948–1955 13 1948–1978
153hp Walker Railmotor Diesel Broad 80 1948–1955 16 1948–1978
280hp Walker Railmotor   Diesel Broad 97 1950–1954 12 1950–1980
Diesel Electric Railmotor (DERM)   Diesel Broad 60 1928–1931 10 1928–1953 Built from Petrol Electric Railmotors
Diesel Rail Car (DRC)   Diesel Broad 112 1971–1973 4 1971–1994

Locomotives (Diesel/Electric) edit

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed (km/h) Built Number In service Notes
B   Diesel-electric Broad 133 1952–1953 26 1952–1982
C   Diesel-electric Broad, standard 133 1977–1978 10 1977–1995
F   Diesel-electric Broad 32 1951–1953 16 1951–1987
H   Diesel-electric Broad 100 1968–1969 5 1968–1999
S   Diesel-electric Broad, standard 133 1957–1961 18 1957–1961
T   Diesel-electric Broad, standard 100 1955–1968 94 1955-2000
X   Diesel-electric Broad, standard 133 1966, 1970, 1975–1976 24 1966–1999
Y   Diesel-electric Broad 65 1963–1968 75 1963-present
M Diesel-hydraulic Broad 20 1959 2 1959-?
V   Diesel-hydraulic Broad 16 1959 1 1959-?
W   Diesel-hydraulic Broad 32 1959–1961 27 1959–1982
E   Electric Broad 65 1923, 1928–1929 12 1923–1984
L   Electric Broad 75 1953–1954 25 1953–1987

Locomotives (Steam) edit

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed (km/h) Built Number In service Notes
A2   Steam Broad 115 1907–1915, 1915–1922 185 1907–1963 Ran the Geelong Flier, reducing times from Geelong to Melbourne to 63, and then 55 minutes
AA Steam Broad 1900–1903 20 1900–1932
B Steam Broad 1861–1881 34 1862–1917
C   Steam Broad 96 1918–1926 26 1918–1962 Ran during the war on the North Eastern, Ballarat, Bendigo, and Geelong lines
D (1876) Steam Broad 1876 2 Named Neil and Neil's Sister
D (1887) Steam Broad 1887–1888 20 1887–1928
DD   Steam Broad 1902–1916 261 D, 58 E 1902–1974 Reclassified into D1, D2, D3, and D4 class during the 1920s
E   Steam Broad 1889–1890, 1892–1894 76 1889–1966
F   Steam Broad 1874, 1876–1877, 1879–1880 21 1874–1929 Seven converted to FE class
G Steam Narrow 1925 2 1926–1964
G (1877) Steam Broad 1877 2 1877–1904
H (1877) Steam Broad 1877–1878 8 1877–1916
H   Steam Broad 1941 1 1941–1958 Nicknamed Heavy Harry, largest locomotive ever built in Australia
J (1859) Steam Broad 1859 5 1860–1916
J (1954)   Steam Broad 1954 60 1954–1972
K   Steam Broad 1922–1946 53 1922–1979
L Steam Broad 1859–1860 10 1861–1906
M Steam Broad 1879, 1884–1886 22 1880–1922
N   Steam Broad 1925–1928, 1930–1931, 1949–1951 83 1925–1966 Designed for conversion to standard gauge
NA   Steam Narrow 1898–1915 17 1898–
O Steam Broad 1862–1864, 1866, 1871–1872, 1878–1879, 1881 44 1886–1919 First entered service as Unclassed
P Steam Broad 1860 5 1860–1921
Q Steam Broad 1873–1874 70 1873–1908
R   Steam Broad, Standard 1951–1952 70 1951–1974
S Steam Broad 1928 4 1928–1954
T   Steam Broad 1884–1885 22 1884–1952
U Steam Broad 1874–1875 9 1874–1908
V Steam Broad 1899, 1901–1902 16 1900–1930
W Steam Broad 1880, 1883 12 1880–1926
X   Steam Broad 1929, 1937-38, 1942-43, <1947 29 1929–1960
Y   Steam Broad 40 1885, 1888–1889 49 1885–1963
Z   Steam Broad 1893 3 1893–1911

Carriage stock edit

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed (km/h) Built Number In service Notes
DERM Trailer   Railmotor Trailer Broad 1930 5 1930–1982
Walker Trailer Railmotor Trailer Broad 1948–1949, 1952–1954 15 1948–1983
E Type Carriage   Passenger Carriage Broad 1906–1911, 1919–1924, 1930 ~103 1906–1995
N Type Carriage   Passenger Carriage Broad, standard 1981–1984 57 1981-present
PL Type Carriage   Passenger Carriage Broad 1918–1921 141 1917–1988
S Type Carriage   Passenger Carriage Broad, standard 115 1937–1956 40 1937-2010
Short W Type Carriage   Passenger Carriage Broad, standard 1911–1914, 1918–1919, 1922, 1925 136 1911–1984
Long W Type Carriage   Passenger Carriage Broad, standard 1926–1927 25 1926–1986
V Type Carriage Passenger Carriage Broad 1897–1899 53 1897–1983
Z Type Carriage   Passenger Carriage Broad, standard 1957–1966 25 1957-present

Electric Multiple Units edit

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed (km/h) Built Number In service Notes
Swingdoor   Electric Broad 83 1887–1909 288 1887–1974
Tait   Electric Broad 110 1910–1953 623 1910–1985
Harris Electric Broad 130 1956–1971 436 1956–1988 Converted to H set carriages
Hitachi   Electric Broad 116 1972–1981 354 1972–2014
Comeng   Electric Broad 115 1981–1988 570 1981-present

Operational branches edit

Western approach to Flinders Street station

The Victorian Railways was divided up into a number of branches, each with a set of responsibilities. These branches were reorganised a number of times, in 1962 they were:[17]

  • Secretaries: headed by the Secretary for Railways, dealt with policy, administration, transport regulation and legal matters.
  • Rolling Stock: headed by the Chief Mechanical Engineer, was responsible for design, construction, operation, and maintenance of all locomotives and rolling stock.
  • Way and Works: headed by the Chief Civil Engineer, it constructed and maintained all fixed infrastructure such as track, bridges, stations, signalling and safeworking.
  • Traffic: headed by the Chief Traffic Manager, it operated all goods and passenger services both on rail and road.
  • Electrical Engineering: headed by the Chief Electrical Engineer, it managed the suburban railway electrification system, as well as power supply to stations.
  • Accountancy: headed by the Controller of Accounts, it recorded all payments, prepared budgets, conducted audits, and paid salaries and wages to employees
  • Commercial: headed by the Chief Commercial Manager, it set goods rates and passenger fares, solicited for new traffic to rail, and took action against by-laws offenders.
  • Stores: headed by the Controller of Stores, it received all incoming stores and materials, and controlled the railway printing works.
  • Refreshment Services: headed by the Superintendent of Refreshment Services, it controlled food and bookstore services at station, managed advertising at stations, as well as the railway bakery, butchery, poultry farm and laundry.

Visual identification edit

Early version of the Victorian Railways "wings" as used on the Spirit of Progress

For most of the 20th century, the colours of royal blue and gold were the distinctive feature of the Victorian Railways. It was first introduced on the Spirit of Progress express train in 1937 along with the winged "VR" logo,[citation needed] and was refined to the final form with the arrival of the B class diesel electric locomotives in 1952. The revised logo was inspired by that of the Erie Railroad in the United States.

While the Spirit of Progress carriages wore the royal blue and gold striping, the remainder of the passenger fleet wore a more plain red livery. Additional carriages did not appear in the blue and gold until the 1954 Royal Tour by HM Queen Elizabeth II. Freight stock was painted in a slightly different red / brown with only identifying lettering painted in white on the side.[citation needed]

With the coming of the standard gauge line into Victoria in 1961, the Victorian Railways held a competition to find a "symbol, sign or slogan" to be carried on new freight vehicles for the line. The winner was an 18-year-old art student from Bentleigh, with the logo being a stylised VR with arrowheads on either end. By the 1970s most bogie vehicles wore the logo, until May 1983 pending the launch of V/Line.[18]

'Teacup' logo used from 1981

In 1974, the Victorian Railways was rebranded as VicRail, with a new logo unveiled on 12 April 1976,[19] but the royal blue and gold image was retained until 1981,[5] when the orange and silver "teacup" scheme was launched on locomotives, Comeng trains, and passenger carriages. This was the last livery, with V/Line launched in August 1983 with a "stylised capital lettered logo with the V and the L split by a deep slashing stroke".[18]

Named trains edit

The Victorian Railways operated a number of named passenger trains, including the:[20]

The railways also operated a number of specialist trains that were used to bring services to rural and isolated populations. These included:

Other functions edit

From 1888, the Victorian Railways began to take on a role in tourism, operating the Victorian Government Tourist Bureau until it was taken over by the state government in 1959.[21] In connection with their role of promoting tourism, the railways ran three guesthouses/ski lodges which were taken over from previous operators: the Mount Buffalo Chalet from (1925–1985),[22] the Feathertop Bungalow (1927–1939) and Hotham Heights (1934–1951).

In 1911, the Victorian Railways Commissioners assumed responsibility for the State Coal Mine at Wonthaggi from the Mines Department.[23] VR also operated Newport Power Stations A and B.

Other operations included railway refreshment services, road motor services for passengers, and motor transport services for goods. The railways also operated two tram routes in Melbourne, the Electric Street Railways;[24][25] the St Kilda to Brighton Beach Street Railway (1,600 mm or 5 ft 3 in gauge) from 1906 until 1959 and the Sandringham to Black Rock tramway (1,435 mm or 4 ft 8+12 in standard gauge) from 1919 to 1956.

Publications edit

From 1930 until 1973, Victorian Railways News Letter was the Victorian Railways' inhouse journal.[26] It was renamed Victorian Rail Ways in June 1973[27][28] and VicRail News in March 1981.[29][30]

References edit

  1. ^ Petrie, Gerald (1996). In the Beginning: The Story of the New Zealand Locomotive 1863–1877. Christchurch: Locomotive Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-473-02845-X.
  2. ^ Harper, Brian (4 September 2003). "The True Story of the Design of the Bendigo Railway". Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  3. ^ Sands & McDougall's Melbourne and Suburban Directory, 1865, 1870, 1885
  4. ^ Geoff Peterson (February 1993). "67 Spencer Street". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). pp. 44–45.
  5. ^ a b Railmac Publications (1992). Australian Fleetbooks: V/Line locomotives. Kitchner Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-949817-76-7.
  6. ^ Leo J. Harrigan (1962). Victorian Railways to '62. Public Relations and Betterment Board. p. 273.
  7. ^ Leo J. Harrigan (1962). Victorian Railways to '62. Public Relations and Betterment Board. p. 274.
  8. ^ Leo J. Harrigan (1962). Victorian Railways to '62. Public Relations and Betterment Board. p. 275.
  9. ^ a b Vincent Adams Winter (1990). VR and VicRail: 1962 – 1983. pp. 6–9. ISBN 0-9592069-3-0.
  10. ^ World Survey of Foreign Railways. Transportation Division, Bureau of foreign and domestic commerce, Washington D.C. 1936. p. 21.
  11. ^ a b c Railmac Publications (1992). Australian Fleetbooks: V/Line locomotives. Kitchner Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 0-949817-76-7.
  12. ^ "VR – V/Line – VLP/ FA Locomotives". Locopage. Archived from the original on 8 February 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  13. ^ a b "Victorian Railways—Loco hauled Passenger Carriages". Peter J. Vincent's Website. Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  14. ^ Norm Bray; Peter J. Vincent (2006). Bogie Freight Wagons of Victoria. Brief History Books. ISBN 0-9775056-0-X.
  15. ^ Mark Bau. "Four wheeled open wagons of the Victorian Railways". Notes from the Victorian Model Railway Society Prototype Modellers Meet 2007.
  16. ^ a b "V/Line Freight Rollingstock Fleet – 1 July 1987". Newsrail. Vol. 15, no. 10. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). July 1987. p. 303.
  17. ^ Leo J. Harrigan (1962). Victorian Railways to '62. Public Relations and Betterment Board. p. 162.
  18. ^ a b Norm Bray; Peter J Vincent (2006). Bogie Freight Wagons of Victoria. Brief History Books. p. 14. ISBN 0-9775056-0-X.
  19. ^ Vincent Adams Winter (1990). VR and VicRail: 1962 – 1983. p. 205. ISBN 0-9592069-3-0.
  20. ^ Leo J. Harrigan (1962). Victorian Railways to '62. Public Relations and Betterment Board. pp. 256–268.
  21. ^ Leo Harrigan (1962). Victorian Railways to '62. Public Relations and Betterment Board. p. 168.
  22. ^ Mount Buffalo Chalet Newsrail November 2006 pages 348–355
  23. ^ Leo J. Harrigan (1962). Victorian Railways to '62. Public Relations and Betterment Board. p. 165.
  24. ^ V.R. Tramway Reminisences Running Journal June 1969
  25. ^ The Sandringham Tramway Running Journal October 1969
  26. ^ Victorian Railways News Letter National Library of Australia
  27. ^ Welcome to Rail Ways Victorian Rail Ways June 1973 page 82
  28. ^ Victorian Rail Ways National Library of Australia
  29. ^ VicRail News – your new magazine VicRail News March 1981 page 2
  30. ^ VicRail News National Library of Australia

External links edit

Preceded by
Various private operators
Victorian Railways
19 March 1856 – 1974
Succeeded by
Victorian Railways
as VicRail
Preceded by
Victorian Railways
Victorian Railways
as VicRail
1974 – 30 June 1983
Succeeded byas V/Line
Succeeded byas The Met