Tourism locos on the move

The state’s minister for regional development was in Castlemaine on Friday to try her hand at driving a loco before turning the sod on a project that’s poised to significantly boost tourism for both Castlemaine and Maldon.
The Victorian Goldfields Railway’s service reorientation project has secured $500,000 in state government funding with VGR chipping in $250,000 for the project that will see new train stabling and maintenance shedding built in Castlemaine.
The move will enable a greater number of VGR tourism train services to depart from Castlemaine and train maintenance services shifted from Maldon.
Minister Jaclyn Symes and Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards turned the sod on the project that will also establish new VGR staff amenities, walking path upgrades, fencing and lighting.
Scheduled for completion mid next year, the works will now happen at VGR’s existing Castlemaine rail site alongside Castlemaine’s mainline train station complex.
“It means our existing shed will go from 80 metres to 160 metres and we’ll be able to stable three complete trains in there,” VGR civil manager John Shaw said during Friday’s sod-turning.
“We want to be a significant player in the region in terms of tourism,” VGR vice-president John Hoy said after giving the visiting pollies a hands-on crash course in loco driving – something they both clearly enjoyed sampling.
The project will mean VGR can commence their tourism rail services from Castlemaine, rather than having to drive their vintage tourism locos across from Maldon, thereby reaping significant cost and efficiency savings with tourist-dollar benefits expect to flow for both towns.
“It’s a great opportunity to invest in a great community and attract more tourists and boost the local economy,” Ms Symes said on site.
Following the sod turning and train driving try-out, the minister, Ms Edwards and Mount Alexander Shire mayor Bronwen Machin then took a VGR diesel loco-hauled vintage carriage ride on the tourist line to Maldon where the state government is also providing $50,000 from its Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund for a business case to revitalise the historic town centre.

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