Narrow gauge lines of the Victorian Railways

Narrow Gauge Lines Of The Victorian Railways

Narrow gauge lines of the Victorian Railways

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The former Victorian Railways, the state railway authority in Victoria, Australia built a number of experimental narrow gauge railway lines around the beginning of the 20th century. Although all were closed by the early 1960s, parts of two have been reopened as heritage railways.


A depression in the early 1890s brought a halt to the rapid expansion of railways in Victoria. Politicians promoted narrow gauge lines as a way to link remote communities, particularly in hilly country, without the expense of the broad gauge railways. Railways officials opposed them, citing the inconvenience and expense of a break-of-gauge. A parliament committee eventually identified 14 possible locations for narrow gauge railways, and recommended that four experimental lines be built. They were:<!--Please do not modify this list. It is accurate. Refer to following paragraph for context.-->
  • Lilydale – Warburton
  • Wangaratta – Whitfield
  • Upper Ferntree Gully – Gembrook
  • Colac – Beech Forest

The Warburton line was built in broad gauge, however authority was given for the construction of the other three lines. Subsequently, a further two lines were built, the Moe to Walhalla line, and an extension from Beech Forest to Crowes. At various times other lines and extensions were proposed, but none came to anything.

Initial plans were for the railways to be constructed in gauge, but following correspondence with British railway engineer Everard Calthrop, amongst others, a...
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