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Perhaps you wouldn't expect to find a Millennial restoring a century-old train at a Newport workshop for fun.
But Sam Barnes is one of several 20-something men and women volunteering at the historic rail workshops in Melbourne's industrial west, soaking up the history of Victoria's old steam locomotives and learning from their seniors how to take care of them.
Vintage trains at NewportCREDIT:EDDIE JIM
“There’s generational knowledge that you can’t pick up from a book,” 23-year-old Mr Barnes says.
“It’s a dying art”.
Mr Barnes is part of several self-funded rail preservation organisations operating out of the old Newport rail workshops for over 40 years.
The volunteers come on weekends, or before or after working shifts, to protect and restore the vintage stock without charge to the government.
But many fear that it will all come to an end, which would put a stop to the 60 days a year that members of the public can board the old trains as they run on the state’s railways.
Victoria's state railway agency VicTrack is refusing to guarantee the renewal of the heritage groups’ lease, which is due to expire next year.
VicTrack is reviewing the site, and has brought in consultants to oversee a new strategy, which includes the possible relocation of the trains and rail groups.
The heritage-listed workshops would not be relocated, the agency's spokesman said.
"This work is ongoing, and no decisions have been made about the future of the Newport workshops at this time," the spokesman said.
Railway workshops, NewportCREDIT:STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA
Joe Kellett, the chairman of the biggest rail heritage group Steamrail, says relocating to a regional area (which the groups believe is most likely) would force them to shut down.
Groups like Steamrail rely on volunteers to service the trains, but the bulk of these people live in the city and won't travel to the country.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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