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Steamrail – 50 Years Of The Vintage Train

Steamrail Victoria is a heritage train preservation group that runs out of the Newport workshops, Victoria. They have a large selection of operational vehicles and they run a lot of tours throughout the year in Victoria.

This past weekend they ran a 50th anniversary for their "The Vintage Train" service that commemorates 50 years of running preserved steam locomotives in Victoria. They outdid themselves by having two consists running from Melbourne to Geelong, in parallel where possible!

Getting the consists to Southern Cross

As that there is no turn-around facilities at Southern Cross Station, both locomotives had to run tender-first with their consists from Newport to Southern Cross.

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R761 was up first, basking in the morning sunlight through Spotswood.

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D3-693 came through a few minutes later, letting a spark run first.

Southern Cross to Geelong

Both consists left Southern cross just after 10am. Initially it was stated that one was to run via Werribee and the other via the Regional Rail Link. I'm still not sure why, but both ended up running via the RRL. I caught R761 at Tarneit on the curve I previously mentioned. The train perfectly ploughed into the sunlight just as it approached Tarneit.

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Following Google Maps, I then proceeded to Manor Loop. There was an intention to beat R761 to this location, but that wasn't an option obeying traffic rules. Instead, D3693 came bolting down the RRL as it joined back onto the Western Line. This was an unexpected delight, as it was actually meant to have run via Werribee?

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From here, I joined the cavalcade. Turns out there were a lot of enthusiasts on the road. Of course, these were back roads and one or two of them were dirt. Unfortunately, the enthusiasts have passion and had no regard for road rules. Rocks were flying, dangerous overtaking was being practised and the poor locals really had no idea what was going on as an army of bad drivers plundered their way from Little River to Lara.

I attempted a few shots along the way, but the trains were, for the most part, well ahead of me. The sun was also in a bad spot. To make things harder, the trains were also leap-frogging for front place and my timing sucked. There was also a serious amount of contention for 'being in front' when a good photo spot was popular.

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I then took my time, there were no more locations to get the trains before Geelong.

Geelong Station

Both trains were already on the platforms and one loco had already started the run-around. There was also a crowd who must have heard the trains arrive as they didn't seem to know what the trains were actually doing.

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Both trains ran around. I assume they then went off to the V/Line depot and turned on the turntable. The goal was to then bring them back into the station and attach them to the opposite train that they came in with.

Returning via the RRL

I was about to head back to Melbourne. The weather was turning crap and there weren't too many good photo locations (that weren't smothered with enthusiasts) along the return route. I then realised I hadn't gotten a proper shot of the trains side-by-side, so I stuck around (a book helped) and decided on Little River to get the shot I'd actually spent the day for.

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Of course, I chose the end of the 'parallel run' area and the trains weren't going to actually be side-by-side at this point. They did get very close... R761 was ahead on the approach and slowed right down to allow D3693 to catch up, but then bolted ahead a little too early and made its way back to Melbourne first.

As D3693 approached the platform, the level crossing activated. It seems to have then faulted, as the lights were flashing but the gates didn't come down. Cars built up and then started crossing. A V/Locity crawled its way from the other direction on caution as the light must've also been red from the other side. After a 20 minute wait, the gates came down properly and the steamer was given a proceed back to Melbourne.

I returned to Melbourne also. Really great day out!

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About stevenh

Trains… trains… trains… + Electronics + Japan.

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