ARHS, Newport and the eventual big move

 
  ryleyrail Station Master

With the organisations being given long term notice to vacate Newport does Ballart East become a viable alternative?  
HardWorkingMan
Forgive me, but what is this about? Why do they have to vacate Newport?

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  HardWorkingMan Chief Commissioner

Location: Echuca
It has been reported here (and elsewhere) that the heritage groups have been told they will need to move out as the area is needed for other projects.  I was told 5 and 10 years by 2 individuals from the same organisation so it's obviously a longer term thing. They said the organisation had enquired what the site would be used for and were told it's commercial-in-confidence. This also impacts the Fire Services Museum area

My guess (and that is all it is) is that the land has got too valuable and it's going to be redeveloped as housing / retail / industrial area (or areas).  There is a need for more inner suburban housing and there's a lot that could be done depending on how much of the existing area is heritage listed and whether its the building that's heritage listed or just the façade.  You could do a  warehouse conversion on east and west blocks similar to what has been done to the old factories around Richmond Station.  Please remember this pararagraph is purely my speculation.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
There's no easy solution on the radar to 'The Newport Problem'. Seymour Loco is the only other mainline depot with anything approaching the room and facilities of Newport West Block and SRHC would be hard-pressed to accommodate any other mainline group on site other than DERMPAV. Ditto Castlemaine, even after the VGR's proposed yard redevelopment.
LancedDendrite
There is plenty of room at Castlemaine for future expansion if funds permitted.
Some of these funds may be made avl by a Government desperate for the $$$ that selling Newport will bring (I hope that the various groups have their social media and political lobbying plans ready to go, the public love a Steam loco)

With all of the redevelopment happening at the old Victoria Carpets Mill this is becoming a big tourist area and there has been talk of some sort of Rail museum in the old Goods Shed and even that the footbridge may be rebuilt to connect the Mill precinct with the centre of town.

Add Bendigo into the mix and if you really want to get silly the Maryborough > Castlemaine BG line handed over to Heritage groups to allow Broad Gauge running as the network goes more and more SG

It is going to be an interesting few years, that is for sure. The awarding of the contract to build the new HCT fleet at Newport may stave it off for a while but the gentrification of these old industrial subburbs is very hard to stop, just look at Richmond and Collingwood which are almost unrecognisable these days.

BG
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Members of Steamrail Victoria have been made aware of the relevant facts about the slated future of the Newport West Block workshops by their Board a couple of months ago at their AGM. As the Board hasn't made these facts public yet through their official channels, it's safe to assume that they don't want them made public. Same goes for the other two preservation groups at West Block (707 Ops & DERMPAV). Members of those respective groups have a right to know about what's going on, but no-one else does.

I'd also like to point out that the Board of Steamrail Victoria has informed its members that: "...uninformed speculation and actions in isolation by individuals or groups, (well-meaning or otherwise) will be counter-productive to us achieving a positive result for continued steam preservation and operation". The wider preservation community should also respect this.

I'd love to discuss the whole issue more with like-minded members of the preservation community, but this really isn't an appropriate place for it. I'm happy to settle for speculation about possible relocation sites for the West Block groups as that's a lot less sensitive than what's going on with Newport itself.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
There's no easy solution on the radar to 'The Newport Problem'. Seymour Loco is the only other mainline depot with anything approaching the room and facilities of Newport West Block and SRHC would be hard-pressed to accommodate any other mainline group on site other than DERMPAV. Ditto Castlemaine, even after the VGR's proposed yard redevelopment.
There is plenty of room at Castlemaine for future expansion if funds permitted.
BrentonGolding
Enough room to store say 707 Ops' collection as well as the VGR's fleet? And what about Steamrail, with their much larger predominantly wooden-bodied carriage fleet that really needs to be stored undercover if they aren't regularly used?
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
There's no easy solution on the radar to 'The Newport Problem'. Seymour Loco is the only other mainline depot with anything approaching the room and facilities of Newport West Block and SRHC would be hard-pressed to accommodate any other mainline group on site other than DERMPAV. Ditto Castlemaine, even after the VGR's proposed yard redevelopment.
There is plenty of room at Castlemaine for future expansion if funds permitted.
Enough room to store say 707 Ops' collection as well as the VGR's fleet? And what about Steamrail, with their much larger predominantly wooden-bodied carriage fleet that really needs to be stored undercover if they aren't regularly used?
LancedDendrite
Ah, you see, this is where the question becomes interesting. You said "to accommodate any other mainline group on site other than DERMPAV. Ditto Castlemaine, even after the VGR's proposed yard redevelopment" which is what I was responding to. I wasn't trying to say Castlemaine could accomodate the entire Newport fleet I merely said there was plenty of extra room which could be used to accomodate one or even a couple of other operators. Steamrail and the VGR already run a Joint Venture partnership so there may be some synergies there.

I know a little bit about this situation, not as much as others but a bit. Firstly VGR currently stores most of it's fleet outside anyway including most of the RTR wooden bodies cars and others undergoing restoration as this is all done at Maldon. Steamrail also stores a fair whack of it's collection outside as well.

One of the biggest problems at Castlemaine is that the Carriage shed was built in the wrong place and is going to need a bit of modification before the rest of the planned works can be completed. The new works are to be done on the Down side of the Carriage shed which means that the current Carriage shed (which will hopefully by then have 3 roads running into it up from the current 2) could be extended in the Up direction quite a way to enable more carriages to be stored under cover.

Then there is the currently unused / underused areas at the Up end of the yard towards Walker St (the area where B Box, the Lamp shed and the Down end of sidings 1-7 were. Currently this area has a bunch of pretty much derelict freight rolling stock stored in it which may be better off stored elsewhere, Muckleford could be extended for this purpose if this was allowed and the yard fenced if security was required (which it probably wouldn't be) This would leave a long (albeit fairly narrow) area which could be redeveloped into a yard area for whatever purpose, even undercover although this would be expensive.

I am well aware that the Newport situation is very complex and it may require some pretty out there thinking to get it all done. Or it may not all get done and there may be some hard decisions to be made around what to keep and what not to. But there are still some areas around the place where things could be done. And with pathing becoming a bigger and bigger issue in the Metro area regional Victoria would seem the logical place to look.

BG
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Rather than pathetically beg "the Powers That Be" for a new location for mainline preserved train operations, perhaps it's better to be proactive and approach them with an "everybody wins" solution.

If the groups at Newport / North Willy can get their act together and agree on a unified approach (not sure that is possible), they could go to both the political party in government and the opposition with a policy proposal:

The groups agree to vacate the area without kicking up a stink, allowing the state government to sell parts of it for hundreds of millions.

In return, the government agrees to spend part of their windfall on building a new transport museum (and provide funds for operation and curation) at a paddock on the outskirts of a country town around 60 minutes from the city centre (90 minutes tops). If that location is just a museum incorporating the ARHS collection and other heritage transport, it doesn't need to be on a railway line. But if operational groups like 707, Steamrail, et. al. are involved them obviously it does.

The everybody wins result is that:
  • The state government gets a bumper haul of cash. Even after buying a farm paddock and building a museum, they will have lots of moolah left over.
  • The state government gets political credit for building a "world class" transport museum (even if some things are initially housed in cheap farm sheds).
  • A country town (probably in a marginal parliamentary seat?) gets a big tourist attraction and extra flow of cash into local businesses.
  • Rail fans (and other transport buffs) get a decent museum.
  • If that museum has an annexe for train restoration and operations then more of the Newport area would be available for the government to sell. But that would require a second farm paddock to be bought, a few more agricultural sheds to be errected and a lot of expensive track work.
Now this idea is far from perfect, but it's an attempt to face the reality that one day rail preservation groups will be evicted from North Williamstown and much of Newport. If rail groups approach the government and opposition with something like this, they can start the ball rolling with a better long term outcome than if they just sit back and allow the bureaucrats and politicians to do whatever they like with only a small and largely unheard protest in response.

*Gets ready to hide when people who can't face the reality that they don't have the Newport land for ever start hurling stuff at him.*
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Rather than pathetically beg "the Powers That Be" for a new location for mainline preserved train operations, perhaps it's better to be proactive and approach them with an "everybody wins" solution.
If the groups at Newport / North Willy can get their act together and agree on a unified approach (not sure that is possible), they could go to both the political party in government and the opposition with a policy proposal
Bogong
May I suggest that you go and talk to the Steamrail board about your proposal? I'm sure they'd love to hear it.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

The ARHS museum were talking of moving to Moorooduc if they got moved on.  The advantage of that location is its proximity to Melbourne.

Castlemaine would make a lot of sense - but room would be tight.  At least for a decade or two the mainline will still be BG to Melbourne, Swan Hill and Echuca.  The idea of using all or part of the Maryborough line would be similar to Steamranger in S.A.  The section from Castlemaine to Moolort would be a good start given its scenic value, the fact it can handle heavy locos like the R-class, and there is a siding at Moolort for run-arounds.  The big issue would be the cost of track repair and maintenance - this is where Govt assistance or some sort of agreement would be needed too.

Using the Bendigo Roundhouse as a museum has also been kicked around.  But of course that's currently in use and space is tight around it anyway.
  amb Train Controller

Rather than pathetically beg "the Powers That Be" for a new location for mainline preserved train operations, perhaps it's better to be proactive and approach them with an "everybody wins" solution.

If the groups at Newport / North Willy can get their act together and agree on a unified approach (not sure that is possible), they could go to both the political party in government and the opposition with a policy proposal:

The groups agree to vacate the area without kicking up a stink, allowing the state government to sell parts of it for hundreds of millions.

In return, the government agrees to spend part of their windfall on building a new transport museum (and provide funds for operation and curation) at a paddock on the outskirts of a country town around 60 minutes from the city centre (90 minutes tops). If that location is just a museum incorporating the ARHS collection and other heritage transport, it doesn't need to be on a railway line. But if operational groups like 707, Steamrail, et. al. are involved them obviously it does.

The everybody wins result is that:
  • The state government gets a bumper haul of cash. Even after buying a farm paddock and building a museum, they will have lots of moolah left over.
  • The state government gets political credit for building a "world class" transport museum (even if some things are initially housed in cheap farm sheds).
  • A country town (probably in a marginal parliamentary seat?) gets a big tourist attraction and extra flow of cash into local businesses.
  • Rail fans (and other transport buffs) get a decent museum.
  • If that museum has an annexe for train restoration and operations then more of the Newport area would be available for the government to sell. But that would require a second farm paddock to be bought, a few more agricultural sheds to be errected and a lot of expensive track work.
Now this idea is far from perfect, but it's an attempt to face the reality that one day rail preservation groups will be evicted from North Williamstown and much of Newport. If rail groups approach the government and opposition with something like this, they can start the ball rolling with a better long term outcome than if they just sit back and allow the bureaucrats and politicians to do whatever they like with only a small and largely unheard protest in response.

*Gets ready to hide when people who can't face the reality that they don't have the Newport land for ever start hurling stuff at him.*




 
Bogong
The museum will never move,in the overall scheme of things it only occupies a small parcel of land .The cost of moving 30 odd locos and rolling stock many which haven't moved for over 50 years would be huge, not to mention the possibility of damage in particular to the wooden stock after all those years in open storage.I was involved with the museum in the 1980,s and there was talk the museum would move into old Melbourne goods shed as the government at the time was very keen on it, but when they done the sums it was put in the too hard basket.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
The museum will never move,in the overall scheme of things it only occupies a small parcel of land .The cost of moving 30 odd locos and rolling stock many which haven't moved for over 50 years would be huge, not to mention the possibility of damage in particular to the wooden stock after all those years in open storage.I was involved with the museum in the 1980,s and there was talk the museum would move into old Melbourne goods shed as the government at the time was very keen on it, but when they done the sums it was put in the too hard basket.
"amb"
I'm sad to say that I have to agree. Eventually, we'll be left with heaps of iron oxide and sawdust. The efforts of the volunteers there are nothing short of heroic, but they're kicking into the wind with a wet ball. No government agency or department gives two hoots about the State's railway history, and the job is just too big for the faithful few.
  Dangersdan707 Chief Commissioner

Location: On a Thing with Internet
to those who don't know,
Part of the ARHS Newport museum Is now under cover, the section with the timber stock and 19th century locos I believe.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Thanks for the thoughtful response amb. I guess I was envisioning a transport museum with interactive displays and giant (but cheap) agricultural sheds out the back housing big stuff like trains, buses, bullock drays, etc., rather than just a static display of steam locomotives, but obviously anything would be better than the fragmented and uncurated "collections of stuff" we have now.

But I still reckon selling the land would raise over twice the money required to build a proper museum and move large and small displays to it. The tens of millions left over could be used by politicians for pork barrelling and election promises.

Land in hipster suburbs is horrifyingly expensive. A standard empty 5 x 31 metre terrace house block, (155 square metres), sells for well over a million in the inner suburbs. Now Williamstown is slightly cheaper than that, but the plan will take a few years and with rapidly rising house prices, I think we can assume that height restricted 155 square metre blocks in North Willy would easily sell for $1 million, a lot more if developers were allowed to build 6 story high blocks of flats on the land. So let's round that to a land value of $6,500 per square metre.

The ARHS land at North Willy is a bit over 300 metres x 50 metres, about 15,300 square metres. 15,300 x $6,500 = $100 million dollars. If you allowed 6 story high flats to be built there you would get a lot more, maybe $150 million. If more nearby railway land was sold, there would be even more money.

Now people may dispute my assumptions and land valuations but if just the ARHS occupied land was sold for even half my estimated price, or just $50 million, that would pay for:
  • Buying a farm paddock around 60 km from the city, preferably next to a town in a marginal seat to help sell the idea to politicians
  • Building a large main building for the entrance, interactive displays, cafes, etc. It can be fairly basic but would probably have a pretty facade
  • A dozen giant agricultural machinery sheds out the back to house large exhibits like steam locomotives, trucks, boats, buggies, etc. Maybe even trams.
  • 20 days hire of those huge semi trailer combo thingys they use to move stuff like static locomotives and boats.
  • Fit out costs, laying track in the machinery sheds, building display cases in the main building, etc.
  • Hiring a skilled museum curator, a volunteer co-ordinator and a few other staff and paying them for a year before opening.
I reckon you could do that for $50 million. It wouldn't be super slick, but it would be pretty good. Later on fund raising campaigns and government grants could improve it further.

So if the land sold for my estimated cost of $100 million, then that's a LOT of spare money to the state government for politicians to play with. If it sold for $150 million, the pollys would be as happy as pigs in mud. They would get lots of money and we get a quality transport museum. Everyone wins. Smile
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Echuca, like Ballarat, is seeing more heritage trains as they can be a day trip and will attract the public.  The number of available destinations has been reduced by 'line improvements', increasing demand for regular services and the bigger speed differential (in the old days it was only a 20mph(32kmh) difference now it's 80kmh or 50mph).  With more lines being converted to Standard Gauge I can see the time coming when the steam traffic will be handled by gauge converted R and J classes with the rest being used on suburban shuttles.
HardWorkingMan
In what I would call "the old days" an R class on a fan-trip could travel at 70mph, with no speed differential between it and a regular train.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
In what I would call "the old days" an R class on a fan-trip could travel at 70mph, with no speed differential between it and a regular train.
"duttonbay"
And there were numerous occasions when the 70mph limit was, er, rather generously interpreted.
  amb Train Controller

Thanks for the thoughtful response amb. I guess I was envisioning a transport museum with interactive displays and giant (but cheap) agricultural sheds out the back housing big stuff like trains, buses, bullock drays, etc., rather than just a static display of steam locomotives, but obviously anything would be better than the fragmented and uncurated "collections of stuff" we have now.

But I still reckon selling the land would raise over twice the money required to build a proper museum and move large and small displays to it. The tens of millions left over could be used by politicians for pork barrelling and election promises.

Land in hipster suburbs is horrifyingly expensive. A standard empty 5 x 31 metre terrace house block, (155 square metres), sells for well over a million in the inner suburbs. Now Williamstown is slightly cheaper than that, but the plan will take a few years and with rapidly rising house prices, I think we can assume that height restricted 155 square metre blocks in North Willy would easily sell for $1 million, a lot more if developers were allowed to build 6 story high blocks of flats on the land. So let's round that to a land value of $6,500 per square metre.

The ARHS land at North Willy is a bit over 300 metres x 50 metres, about 15,300 square metres. 15,300 x $6,500 = $100 million dollars. If you allowed 6 story high flats to be built there you would get a lot more, maybe $150 million. If more nearby railway land was sold, there would be even more money.

Now people may dispute my assumptions and land valuations but if just the ARHS occupied land was sold for even half my estimated price, or just $50 million, that would pay for:
  • Buying a farm paddock around 60 km from the city, preferably next to a town in a marginal seat to help sell the idea to politicians
  • Building a large main building for the entrance, interactive displays, cafes, etc. It can be fairly basic but would probably have a pretty facade
  • A dozen giant agricultural machinery sheds out the back to house large exhibits like steam locomotives, trucks, boats, buggies, etc. Maybe even trams.
  • 20 days hire of those huge semi trailer combo thingys they use to move stuff like static locomotives and boats.
  • Fit out costs, laying track in the machinery sheds, building display cases in the main building, etc.
  • Hiring a skilled museum curator, a volunteer co-ordinator and a few other staff and paying them for a year before opening.
I reckon you could do that for $50 million. It wouldn't be super slick, but it would be pretty good. Later on fund raising campaigns and government grants could improve it further.

So if the land sold for my estimated cost of $100 million, then that's a LOT of spare money to the state government for politicians to play with. If it sold for $150 million, the pollys would be as happy as pigs in mud. They would get lots of money and we get a quality transport museum. Everyone wins. Smile








Bogong
Have a look at Google earth photo and you will see what I mean, the museum is sandwiched between the Downer workshops and main Altona Yarraville oil pipe line, not much to gain by moving the museum.Also the site would have to be decontaminated big bucks there and then several years before any construction could start.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Fair enough amb, but my main point is that the North Williamstown land is massively valuable. If the value of the land in 2020 is just a fraction of my guestimate of $100+ million, that easily pays for a proper transport museum PLUS undergrounding the pipes AND an awful lot of soil decontamination.

Even if a different bit of government land of similar size in a trendy area is sold,* that would more than pay for a pretty awesome transport museum and there would still be tens of millions left over for the politicians to pork barrel with.

Everybody (still) wins. Razz

But we really need a proper rail or transport museum or as Valvegear wisely said, the locomotives sitting outdoors in the salty air will crumble into piles of rust and dust. It would be great if other people could come up with practical and affordable alternatives to what I've suggested, but IMO, to stick your head in the sand and ignore the issue is criminally negligent.

* One candidate could be the North Fitzroy bus depot, located on some of the most expensive real estate in Melbourne. The land could be sold and the depot relocated to cheaper land near the terminus of routes it serves such as northern Bundoora or Donvale.
  Dangersdan707 Chief Commissioner

Location: On a Thing with Internet
Hello? I stated that a part of the museum is under cover now!!! the bit that contains the oldest stock and locos!!
  amb Train Controller

Hello? I stated that a part of the museum is under cover now!!! the bit that contains the oldest stock and loco
Dangersdan707
Yes I know part of it is covered,anyway its not so much the rain that does the damage its the sun UV rays which breaks down the paint which in turns allows the water to penetrate the steel or timber.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: North Haverbrook; where the monorail is king!
Hello? I stated that a part of the museum is under cover now!!! the bit that contains the oldest stock and locos!!
Dangersdan707
Would you like a medal?
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Hello? I stated that a part of the museum is under cover now!!! the bit that contains the oldest stock and loco
Yes I know part of it is covered,anyway its not so much the rain that does the damage its the sun UV rays which breaks down the paint which in turns allows the water to penetrate the steel or timber.
amb
Not to mention the lovely Salt air that Williamstown is famous for!

BG
  bisnana Station Staff

While it may be unavoidable that the mainline groups leave West Block, and it would be nice to get a better site for the ARHS museum, I don't think either group would benefit much from a tree-change.

Moving the museum may get the government some regional tourism credentials, but such a move would decrease visitor numbers and volunteer availability. Victoria is a very centralized state, more so than QLD, or NSW. As well as geographic centrality, Melbourne is, at the 2016 census, home to neraly 75% of the state poulation. Melbourne is where the market for a static museum is, families looking for something to do on a Weekend afternoon, preferably without an hour or more of driving to get there.  Most volunteers would reside in the Melbourne metropolitan area, and a loss of volunteers and potential volunteers would be inevitable.

To those preaching the decentralization gospel, why not move the valuable real estate squandering Botanic gardens, National gallery, Houses of Parliament, State library etc to regional areas. They're all major attractions, surely worth making a day trip? They are in Melbourne because they must be in Melbourne to properly serve the state population.  

The preservation movement should, if necessary, fight to maintain some presence somewhere in the Newport workshops area. No other remaining site comes even close to matching Newport's significance to railways in Victoria. It is also the birthplace of many of the locomotives cared for by the groups.

Sometimes the what is makes the most dollars short term doesn't represent what is truly best value. The enthusiasts and volunteers with the passion should avoid relinquishing control over their cherished exhibits, rescued thanks to their own hard fought efforts. Delivering the state government "political credit", "bumper hauls of cash" or"moolah" is not the purpose of the preservation movement.

ARHS, Steamrail, 707 ops and Dermpav all do a fantastic job. I say all power to them!

FJ
  bisnana Station Staff

Some positive thoughts after that impassioned post.


Future operation of tours on the BG ex Melbourne...

A TWPS fitted R with steel carriages could still fit within a future weekend timetable. or a diesel could haul out of Melbourne with an engine change at say Castlemaine.

I like the idea of VGR re-opening the Newstead line, even if only for a couple of kms at first, because it would allow "big wheel" driver experiences off the mainline on steamrail loco's, which would surely draw a few punters, an could be done when a special is in Castlemaine.

Steamrail mainline engines could be rotated to castlemaine as currently happens with the branch line engines. (looking forward to seeing K160 on the mainline now that I mention that arrangement) Or VGR could have crack for themselves at A2996 (Echuca wharf). Swap for the E class maybe.

Steam locos could be put in light steam at the Southern Cross buffer stops in view of the general public. Good PR and an opportunity to sell tickets.


Use of Newport

If it is a matter of West Block becoming disconnected from the mainline or losing its yard, then the historic buildings could house the ARHS static collection in a suitable display setting.
I respect the wishes of Steamrail management as communicated by LancedDendrite to avoid speculation on the sites future, but I will comment that should reaching an agreeable settlement with government be impossible, the volunteers would certainly get a sympathetic hearing by the media and support from the community in the event of a tooth and nail fight.  


The preservation movement in this state has plenty of dedicated individuals and groups, capable of pulling off great achievements in the future just as they have in the past. The future is on the whole a bright place.

FJ
  Dangersdan707 Chief Commissioner

Location: On a Thing with Internet
Apparently, there was something about this in Steamrails latest Newsletter. Can any Members confirm?
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
With the organisations being given long term notice to vacate Newport does Ballart East become a viable alternative?  
Forgive me, but what is this about? Why do they have to vacate Newport?
ryleyrail

Yes Indeed.  Have any of the 3 groups at the Newport Workshops been asked to vacate?

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