Railway project gathers steam

A plan to extend the Walhalla Goldfields Railway towards Erica is moving forward.

Two classic X1 tram body shells built in 1926 are now in the hands of the railway’s committee, after purchase late last year with the aim of converting the trams to operate as rail motors.

Committee president Michael Leaney said plans for the revamp had been drawn up and a secure site had been obtained to complete work.

The group is now awaiting funding approval from Regional Development Victoria as part of its Tourism Investment Pipeline fund.

The fund is for improving existing tourism attractions and a maximum $180,000 is up for grabs by the committee.

Mr Leaney said the committee expected an answer in the next couple of weeks and then it would be full steam ahead.

“This project is shovel ready and all it requires now is funding,” Mr Leaney said.

The project involves restoring a 90 year-old X1 Class tram and building a rail-motor, a smaller version of the VLocity trains used by V/Line.

It is expected to be completed by early 2018 and will cost an estimated $300,000.

Mr Leaney said the aim was to increase the railway’s operation from its current three days a week to seven.

He said this would provide a “big boost” to the town’s tourism.

“In the last financial year the Walhalla Goldfields Railway carried 36,000 passengers and this number is expected to increase to over 60,000 passengers with the rail motors in operation,” he said.

“It’s a major restoration job to get this operating, but one that is worth it.”

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the project should phone 5165 6280 or email office@walhallarail.com.au