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Work has begun on Victorian Goldfields Railway’s new Castlemaine locomotive stable as part of a wider project forecast to boost tourism to Castlemaine and surrounds.
The $1 million service reorientation project has $500,000 in state funds with VGR adding the rest in a move that will see it shift its operating base from Maldon to a revitalised Castlemaine rail heritage precinct.
“Today we’re putting up the steel frame for the locomotive shed, which is part of the redevelopment of the site for the relocation from Maldon to Castlemaine,” project manager Graeme Alford said as a crane got to work on site, Friday.
“Today’s the culmination of quite a few years work and eventually we’re actually building the structure which is really exciting for us.
“The shed will be clad and then we fit it out internally and put the tracks in and then we’ll be able to start using it.
“We’re working on about the middle of the year having the whole project finished. This is the first of two sheds. There’s another one to be erected on the southern end of the existing carriage shed. That will be to store the carriages in so they don’t get weathered.”
VGR president Steve Strangward said a workshop would also be built as part of the project.
“The idea of the depot is that we can play host to any of the other main line heritage operators, in particular our joint venture mainline operator Steam Rail Victoria,” Mr Strangward said.
“We own four steam locos and we also own two diesel engines and lease another two diesel engines.
“The extended carriage shed will be able to house 24 carriages and we’ll fill all of it.”
The VGR is not-for-profit and its president said any help with new loco shed’s fit-out from local tradies – or other community members – would be very welcome.
Ultimately, he said, the project wouldl save the VGR money in operating and maintenance costs, enabling it to direct more dollars into developing the attraction.
“It will increase patronage on the trains because they’re running from Castlemaine rather than Maldon. Maldon is the destination,” Mr Alford said.
With some rail heritage structures already features of the Castlemaine site, the project is also expected to enhance the entire precinct as a significant railway heritage attraction.
“This is a golden opportunity to create a working museum,” VGR marketing manager Andrew Reynolds said on site as the big framework went up.
“This is being built on the site of the old original engine shed, which still has the historic pit, and we’re being as faithful to what was here as possible.
“We’re recreating a historic Victorian Railways locomotive depot.”
This article first appeared on www.midlandexpress.com.au
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