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The following has been provided to our members regarding an update on the Vintage Rolling Stock Strategy.
Please note this information is provided to all supporters of Steamrail Victoria via our website and social media channels for your information. We ask comments are kept factual and all comments will be subject to our Social Media Policy. Thank you.
Members of the Board of Management met with Professor Parsons from Deakin University on Tuesday 26 March 2019. She has been appointed by VicTrack as an independent party to prepare a report on the Vintage Rolling Stock Strategy after having sought the views of all the tourist and heritage railway groups.
So far as Steamrail is concerned, the most important matter to be considered concerns the proposal to move the heritage groups out of the Newport Workshops West Block in about three years time.
In summary, the submission by the Board to Professor Parsons was as follows: Steamrail would prefer to continue to conduct its activities from the West Block. If VicTrack insist that the heritage groups operating from the West Block must move in about three years, then it is the view of the Board that VicTrack should arrange to move all of the repair work and rolling stock storage to a Melbourne metropolitan location.
Such a location, which has not currently been identified, should be developed by VicTrack to have facilities at least equivalent to those currently available in the West Block. Should a Melbourne metropolitan base prove to be unavailable, then as a last resort, a main workshop and storage facility should be developed in a country location.
Again, the Board has not specified the location. In addition to the development of the country site, a "staging" area close to Melbourne should be established. This "staging" site should be sufficiently close to Melbourne to enable trains to be prepared and serviced in the days prior to their operation out of Southern Cross station.
It is also of the opinion of both the Board and our Mechanical Manager that such a site in Melbourne would need to have facilities to carry out routine maintenance on both steam locomotives and carriages. The Board realises that in the future there will have to be several compromises so far as Steamrail is concerned. Regardless of which alternative comes to pass, the number of carriages that can be maintained will have to be reduced. To ensure the continued existence of Steamrail, it is essential that what ever happens in the future, that it can continue to operate tours in order to generate revenue and sustain its operations.
If Steamrail is unable to operate tours from Melbourne, then the future of the association is uncertain. Our lease on the West Block expires on 1 May 2020, but we have been advised that it will be two to three years after that before any change will take effect.
We are aware that there are numerous rumours circulating regarding the future of Steamrail, but at this time nothing definite has been decided regarding our future home.
The initial response to out submission appears to have been reasonably well received. We are now somewhat optimistic that there may be a favorable outcome for Steamrail. The Board will inform members as soon as it is advised of any further developments.
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