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West Coast Railway Information

Taken from WCR March 1999 electronic newsletter

About The Company
New Maintenance Facility Nearly Ready to Open
Tours Operated by West Coast Railway
New Steam Train Service to Commence in Late April
Souvenirs of West Coast Trains

About The Company
West Coast Railway was formed in 1993 to operate the passenger train service on the Melbourne to Warrnambool railway.

West Coast Railway is the trading name of the Victorian Railway Company, and is a privately owned company.  Originally set up by three partners of which two still remain, the Geelong based company employs 55 staff in Geelong, Warrnambool, and Ballarat.  Each week 37 trains are operated on the railway using five mainline locomotives and twenty carriages.

The Company controls the stations at Wincheisea, Colac, Camperdown, Terang and Warrnambool with its own staff, whilst the stations between South Geelong and Melbourne are controlled by the shortly to be privatised V/Line Passenger.  A West Coast Railway office is also located on the platform at Geelong Railway Station.  The Company head office is located at 75-77 Moorabool Street in the heart of Geelong.

To maintain the train the Company has a heavy maintenance facility at Ballarat East where carriages and locomotives are rebuilt and reconditioned, and major repairs are carried out.  This facility was formerly the V/Line locomotive depot at Ballarat.

Routine maintenance and light repairs are carried out at Warrnambooland the Company has been constructing a new facility for this task.

Subsequent issues of the West Coast Railway News will tell more about the Company and its people.

New Maintenance Facility Open
Regular passengers on the Warrnambool train can hardly have failed to notice the construction of the large shed on the south side of the track at Warrnambool.

This new building is shortly to be opened as the Warrnambool Maintenance Facility.  The shed itself has been constructed to lock-up stage for a little while now, but the railway tracks to enable the trains to enter the facility have only just been recently connected to the V/Line tracks in Warrnambool yard. The first train entered the new facility in March.

The 16 metre by 45 metre shed was constructed over a couple of years, and when completed the facility will have cost around one million dollars.

The completion of this facility was a step forward in West Coast Railway's continuing efforts to provide a better, cleaner, and more efficient railway.

Tours Operated by West Coast Railway
One of the great success stories of West Coast Railway has been the operation of Day Tours in conjunction with the train service.

The Company first started to operate Day Tours in 1996 when a service was provided to take people to the Whales at Logan's Beach near Warrnambool on a few days each week.

It soon became apparent that there was a demand for the service, and as a result provision was made for additional services, and in time alternate locations were made available.

Today the demand for tours is so great that tours operate every day Monday to Saturday.

Tour includes air conditioned coach pick up from historical Camperdown Station. A delicious cut lunch on the coach and a short drive will see you through the Otway's Hinterland to reach the Great Ocean Road.

Travelling along the coast you will see the famous 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and the historic township of Port Campbell.  Then along the spectacular coastline to Warrnambooi's Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and a short walk to the Whaler's Inn for a free afternoon tea and a free $2 gaming voucher with your first $10 gaming card purchase (over 18 years).  A tasty hot roast chicken and vegie dinner is then served on the return journey.  An optional overnight stay is available upon request.

Note Senior Card holders are entitled to concession fares on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday only.  Discounts are available for groups of eight or more.

New Steam Train Service to Commence in Late April
On the 21st November 1998, West Coast Railway's fully overhauled and rebuilt R class express steam passenger locomotive R711 operated a revenue train to Warrnambool for the first time.

This trip was part of a bedding-in procedure to establish what if any faults would occur prior to R711 starting the operation of a regular service in 1999.

Unfortunately the locomotive was found to have a problem with the tyres of the main driving wheels, and these had to be replaced prior to the locomotive undertaking protracted regular service.

New driving wheel tyres were ordered from a manufacturer in South Africa, and these were completed on 17th February.

Transport to Australia took several weeks, and it is anticipated that the work will be completed and the locomotive available for traffic by late April or possibly early May.

Once available for service, R711 will operate the Saturday 8.43am train from Melbourne to Warrnambool, and return on the 5.05pm train from Warrnamboolto Melbourne.

The train will operate as a normal service to the usual schedule.

The introduction of the service will be the first time a regular scheduled steam train has operated in mainline service since the early 1970s.

Souvenirs of West Coast Trains
For patrons and others looking for souvenirs of West Coast Railway, the company now sells a variety of items on the train and from the office at Geelong Station.

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