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The Victorian Labor government has just announced improvements to the Walhalla Goldfields Railway.
A grant of $300,000, coming out of the government’s $101 million Regional Tourism and Infrastructure Fund, will be used to enhance the popular not-for-profit tourist attraction in Gippsland, boosting the local economy in the process.
The project is to include upgrades to the track infrastructure, construction of a new storage facility for carriages, and the restoration and conversion of an old 1926 Melbourne tram into a self-propelled rail carriage.
Outside of school-holidays the volunteer-run railway runs for only three days a week. The announced upgrades will for the first time allow regular operation of the track seven days a week, an expansion that has long been a goal for the railway’s operators.
Jaala Pulford, agriculture and regional development minister, emphasised the impact expected from the planned improvements.
“This upgrade is great for tourists and for jobs. It boosts tourism in Gippsland and takes advantage of the skills of people in the Latrobe Valley,” the minister said.
Last financial year the track carried 36,000 visitors.
The government expects the the number of visitors to the railway to rise by more than 15,000 in the long term, with an estimated increase in money spent in local businesses from $2.4 million to $3.3 million.
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