THIS image dates back 40 years and tells a historical tale. Captured on December 29, 1983, the photograph displays a V/Line L-class electric locomotive hauling the Melbourne-bound Gippslander train from Bairnsdale into Morwell.

Vintage: The Gippslander captured 40 years ago, at Morwell. Photograph: Australian Rail Maps/Facebook

The Gippslander was the iconic day-return passenger train run by Victorian Railways from Melbourne through central Gippsland and out to Bairnsdale.

The train was established in December 1952 and named two years later to celebrate the electrification of the main line as far as Warragul – 66 years after the passenger service had begun along the line.

The Gippslander would charge along the tracks from Monday to Saturday, equipped with air-conditioning and a buffet cart to provide passengers with some sustenance on their travels.

While there were many other trains on that exact route, the Gippslander was considered the greatest for its speed and prestige at the time.

Up until 1987, trains between Melbourne and Traralgon were electrically hauled by L-class electric locomotives from Melbourne to Warragul, where an R-class steam locomotive took on the job to get to Sale. The journey to Bairnsdale, however, was done by a J-class steam locomotive.

When electrification was extended to Traralgon, steam traction on the service was replaced by T-class diesel locomotives.

Bill Swaine, a safeworker, guard and conductor on the Gippslander featured in the Nick Anchen book Victorian Railways – The Spirit of Blue & Gold.

“Working this train was a complicated affair,” Mr Swaine wrote.

“With a guard’s van at each end, an L-class took the train from Melbourne through to Traralgon, where several cars were detached from the rear, and the L was replaced with a T-class diesel. The guard was then relocated to the front van, and the train conductor became the guard in the rear vehicle.”

Mr Swaine explained that when the Gippslander reached Sale, which was a dead-end station, again the train would rearrange as the T class would be detached and then reattached to the rear. The back of the train became the front, with a guard in the van at the rear to complete the journey to Bairnsdale.

On the way back, everything occurred in reverse Mr Swaine recalled and the train conductor became the guard from Bairnsdale to Sale.

This image tells of a past no longer here as town planning and freeway upgrades forever changed how the line would look.

Yet, some things remain the same as that Morwell Pub in the background continues to rest upon that same hill.

Timetables no longer use the term ‘Gippslander’, although some residents still use it, Melbourne and Traralgon currently have hourly services and three daily trains to Bairnsdale, and VLocity diesel railcars from V/Line operate every train except for one loco-hauled Bairnsdale service.