Passenger train to Hopetoun on Sunday (October 2023)
|On Sunday, a passenger train will grace the rails all the way to Hopetoun for the first time in many years.
Freight trains operate irregularly on the branch line from Murtoa to Hopetouon throughout the year, but this will be only the second passenger train on the line since it was converted from broad to standard gauge in 1995.
The Seymour Rail Heritage Centre is running the Wimmera Wanderer in conjunction with Murtoa’s Big Weekend, which features their 137th A & P Society’s Agricultural Show on Friday, the Murtoa Cup Race Day on Saturday, and many local attractions such as the Stick Shed and the Museum Precinct will be open over all three days including Sunday.
The train will originate from Seymour on Friday morning, and travelling via Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, North Shore in Geelong, and Ararat, will arrive in Horsham at around 3.20 pm before running a return shuttle trip to Murtoa to allow patrons to attend the evening festivities.
Four shuttle trips will be run on Saturday between Horsham and Murtoa, departing Horsham at 8.54 am, 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, and 4.30 pm.
Sunday will see the train depart Horsham at 9 am and run to Murtoa, where it will venture north towards Hopetoun, with stops planned at Sheep Hills and Rosebery to allow passengers to view these silo art installations. The scheduled return to Horsham will be at 6.40 pm.
The train will retrace its route back to Seymour, departing Horsham on Monday at 9.00 am.
In May last year, the Seymour Rail Heritage Centre ran a similar enthusiast special which only operated as far north as Beulah, utilising locomotives, S303, T357, and P22 (pictured above) all of which are in the classic Victorian Railways blue and gold colours.
The last passenger train to operate as far as Hopetoun was in March 1994, when the Australian Railway Historical Society ran a railmotor tour to mark the centenary of the opening of the section of the line between Beulah and Hopetoun.
The plan at the time of publication is for the train to be hauled by SRHC’s locomotives S307, which is in Pacific National colours, and C501 in the classic Victorian Railway’s blue and gold.
This article was originally published on the Dimboola Courier.