Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 150,658 pages of information and 235,200 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Victorian Railways

From Graces Guide

Victorian Railways, Australia (1859-1983).



The first railways in Victoria were private companies, but when these companies failed or defaulted, the Victorian Railways was established to take over their operations. Most of the lines operated by the Victorian Railways were of 5ft 3in, however the railways also operated up to five 2ft 6in narrow gauge lines between 1898 and 1962, and a 4ft 8.5in standard gauge line between Albury and Melbourne from 1961.

1856 A Department of Railways was created.

1857 Tenders advertised and awarded for -

1859 January / February. Melbourne to Williamstown line opened, some five years after inaugurated by the MMA&MRR. Also opened Footscray to Sunbury section.

1862 August. Geelong-Ballarat opened

1862 October. Sunbury to Sandhurst fully opened.

1864 September. Opened to Echuca.

1864 There was 254 miles (409 km) of railway but no more was built for eight years

1869 Act passed authorising the Essendon and Upper Murray Railway

1871 Act passed authorising new railways:

  • Ballarat to Ararat - Completed 7th April 1875
  • Castlemaine to Maryborough and Dunolly - Completed 7th April 1874 and 6th October 1874
  • Ballarat to Maryborough via Creswick - Completed 2nd February 1875

1872 First locomotive built at the Williamstown Workshops and designed by William Meikle. No. 100, a passenger 2-4-0 engine.

1873 Tender for ten 0-6-0 goods engines awarded to the Phoenix Foundry Co (of Ballarat), the start of a long business relationship. These engines were later classified as 'Q Class'.

1876 The Moama and Deniliquin Railway Co line opened connecting with Victorian Railways at Echuca

1878 January 8th. 137 officials removed from office on Black Wednesday when the Government was denied supply.

1883 November 1st. Assent given to the Victorian Railways Commissioners Act 1883, 47 Vic., No.767, to construct, maintain and manage the state's railways. The staff of the Department of Railways came under the authority of the Railway Commissioners, which became commonly known as Victorian Railways.

1893 The elaborate headquarters at 67 Spencer Street were opened.

Victorian Railways grew to service all parts of the state, even extending some lines into New South Wales under the 1922 Border Railways Act. In the late 19th century the railways became something of a political football with politicians demanding new lines to be built in places where traffic levels never justified it.

1891 There were 2,900 route miles (4,670 km)

1939 There were 4,755 route miles (7652 km) in 1939.

1919 Conversion of the Melbourne suburban system to electric operation commenced and was completed by 1930, creating what was claimed at the time to be the world's largest electric suburban rail system.

1937 Introduction of the streamlined Spirit of Progress passenger train, with air conditioning and all steel carriage construction.

1951 Diesel power was introduced with ten F-class diesel-electric shunting locomotives

1952/53 Introduced B-class mainline diesel-electric locomotives

1961 A standard gauge line connecting to the New South Wales system was constructed allowing through trains to operate between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia's two largest cities, for the first time.

1972 The last steam locomotive was withdrawn.

In May 1973 the Railways (Amendment) Act 1972 passed the management of the Railways from the Victorian Railways Commissioners to a Victorian Railways Board.

In 1974 the Victorian Railways was rebranded as VicRail, but the royal blue and gold livery used on rolling stock was retained until 1981.

In 1983 VicRail was divided into two - the State Transport Authority taking responsibility for the provision of country rail and road, passenger and freight services, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority taking over suburban passenger operations.

The State Transport Authority traded under the V/Line name, while the Metropolitan Transit Authority used that name until the Public Transport Corporation ("The Met") was formed in 1989.

Between 1996 and 1999 V/Line and The Met were privatised. V/Line Passenger was franchised to the National Express Group, returning to government ownership in 2002. The V/Line Freight division was sold to Freight Victoria and is now owned by Pacific National, and the infrastructure is now managed by VicTrack with the interstate rail freight infrastructure leased to the Australian Rail Track Corporation. Metro Trains Melbourne now operates the suburban railway network.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Railway running dates
  • Wikipedia
  • The Railways of Victoria 1854 - 2004 by Robert Stuart Lee. Published 2007. ISBN 9780522851342