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HERITAGE train enthusiasts are riding the rails to Sea Lake for the last time as they say goodbye to broad gauge in Victoria’s northwest.
A modernisation project to increase freight capacity will mean locomotives and rolling stock designed for use on the wider tracks will not be able to travel on the line after it is replaced with standard gauge.
For the 707 Operations Group in Melbourne, this means a 1950s-era sleeper train run to the Mallee this weekend will be their last.
“Once the project is complete we won’t be able to run up there, so we’re taking the opportunity now for a one-off, farewell tour,” volunteer Nathan Watt said.
The locomotive and carriages all run on broad gauge so this will be the last time the train will be able to use the line before it changes over to standard gauge under the Murray Basin Freight Rail Project.
Picture: Yuri Kouzm
Among the passengers will be about 70 who board in Melbourne and will spend two nights sleeping on the train at Maryborough and Wycheproof.
Of these, Mr Watt says many have links to the Mallee but have moved away.
The train will also pick up about 80 day passengers at Charlton and Wycheproof, where they plan to take advantage of the line’s passage through the town’s main thoroughfare to “say goodbye to Broadway Street”.
“From there it’s up to Sea Lake, where we will stop for about an hour, before travelling back to Wycheproof where we will spend an afternoon and a night,” he said.
Mr Watt said there were still plenty of rural destinations for the trains once this trip was complete.
“We will still be able to run weekend experiences to the remaining parts of the broad gauge network, whether that be Warrnambool, Tocumwal, Deniliquin, Swan Hill or into Gippsland,” he said.
This article first appeared on www.weeklytimesnow.com.au
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