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Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Co

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The Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company of Victoria, Australia.

1853 January 20th. Founded to build the line from Melbourne to the port of Sandridge (now Port Melbourne). It was constructed in the broad gauge of 5ft 3in, as the result of an agreement between the then Australian colonies to adopt that gauge. This was the first common-carrier railway to operate in Australia.

The first engineer for the line was William Snell Chauncy, but he was forced to resign in March 1844 due to problems with his work, including the failure of piles on the railway pier.

1853 March. Work began on laying the railway. Trains were ordered from Robert Stephenson and Co but these were delayed. James Moore constructed an engine from one of the pile-driving machines mounted on a ballast wagon. Another engine was built locally - this was a 2-2-2WT locomotive built by local engineering works Robertson, Martin and Smith. Australia's first steam locomotive was built in ten weeks and cost £2,700.

1854 March. James Moore C. E., was appointed as Chief Engineer for company. It was said of Moore that he was a man of whose abilities rumour speaks favourably and was responsible for designing the railway line between the city and the pier main deep-water pier on Hobson's Bay at Sandridge.

1854 September 12th. The line was opened (three years after the discovery of gold at Ballarat) and ran for 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) from the Melbourne (or City) Terminus (on the site of modern-day Flinders Street Railway Station), crossing the Yarra River on the original Sandridge Bridge to Sandridge (now Port Melbourne). It opened more than a year before the Sydney–Parramatta Railway in NSW, which opened on 26 September 1855.

The opening of the line occurred during the period of the Victorian gold rush – a time when both Melbourne and Victoria undertook massive capital works, each with its own gala opening. The inaugural journey on the Sandridge line was no exception. According to the Argus newspaper's report of the next day: "Long before the hour appointed ... a great crowd assembled round the station at the Melbourne terminus, lining the whole of Flinders Street". Lieutenant-Governor Sir Charles Hotham and Lady Hotham were aboard the train – which consisted of two first class carriages and one second class – and were presented with satin copies of the railway's timetable and bylaws.

The trip took 10 minutes, none of the later stations along the line having been built. On arriving at Station Pier (onto which the tracks extended), it was hailed with gun-salutes by the warships HMS Electra and HMS Fantome.

1854 December. James Moore left and was replaced by William Elsdon

1855 January. Steamer connections from Sandridge to Williamstown and Geelong commenced.

1855 March. The four 2-4-0 well tank engines ordered from the UK were all in service, with trains running every half-hour. They were named Melbourne, Sandridge, Victoria, and Yarra (after the Yarra River over which the line crossed).

1856 The pier at Sandridge was extended three times and the line was doubled.

1857 May 13th. Opened a 4.8 km (3.0 mi) line from Flinders Street Station to St Kilda, to meet up with the St Kilda to Brighton line being built by the St Kilda and Brighton Railway Company. William Elsdon had been appointed Engineer in Chief, and designed the line. His name is engraved into the parapet of the bridge at Park Street.

1865 The company absorbed two other private railways in suburban Melbourne, St. Kilda and Brighton Railway Co and the Melbourne and Suburban Railway Co. The combined company was known as the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay United Railway Co.

1878 The combined company was in turn taken over by the Government of Victoria to become part of Victorian Railways.

Both lines became part of the Melbourne suburban electrified network during the 20th century.

Most of both lines were converted to standard gauge light rail in 1987 as tram routes 96 and 109.

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