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The Board of Steamrail has taken the decision to cease using West Coast Railway (WCR) to operate Steamrail trains due to the constantly rising cost of doing business with WCR.
While we have managed to run with ever increasing administration charges and a recent disinterest from WCR in heritage operations, it has lead to a number of once profitable trains running at a loss or with severely reduced margins.
We feel it is no longer worth trying to do business with WCR under these conditions and will seek assistance from the Government in trying to find an alternative operator. We now join 707 Operations and the Seymour Rail Heritage Centre on the sideline of operating trains; both the other groups had their operating agreements with V/Line Passenger (VLP) cancelled with VLP citing ‘core business’ interests as the reason for their withdrawal from heritage operations.
VLP also refused to take on Steamrail once again, citing the same reasons. The Government has already been approached for help in this matter last October and it is hoped that they will make VLP, a Government entity, take back the operation of heritage trains. To date, we have received no word from the Government that this will happen but we remain optimistic that a solution can be found. Negotiations between the Government and VLP have taken place and hopefully continue to do so.
It is important to point out that this will not stop Steamrail workshop activities and we encourage volunteers to continue to come down.
The satisfactory resolution of this issue is vital to the survival of Steamrail. We have been self-funding over many, many years and rely on running successful train tours to fund our continuing works. Without a fair and equitable operational deal to work with, we cannot operate successfully, let alone consider the long term future. This is why we took the decision to cease operating now and be up-front about our problems, rather than ruin our reputation as an operator of successful train tours by continuing to run at a loss or cancel trains constantly.
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