A Bright Future For The Tourist And Heritage Rail Sector

02 March 2021

A new package of support measures announced by the Andrews’ Labor Government will help Victoria’s tourist and heritage railways continue to operate and expand into the future.

Victoria has the largest tourist and heritage tram and railway sector in Australia, ranging from small operators who open once a month to the iconic Puffing Billy Railway which, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, attracted over 500,000 visitors per year. As well as the 17 operating tourist attractions, there are also a number of static tram and train museums.

These practical and financial support measures, $1 million to cover COVID-19 related costs and a further $1.2 million in capital grants, will help these tourist and heritage railway organisations continue to do their important work of preserving Victoria’s railway history while providing a unique tourist offering.

The support will help groups carry out essential works as they recover from the effects of COVID19 restrictions and provide them with a way forward to expand and grow in the future. With many attractions based in regional Victoria, long-term this will help to improve the tourism offering in these areas of the state, generating jobs and bringing more visitors to regional communities.

The Government will work with the sector to support information sharing and co-ordination between groups, and help them obtain rail equipment, resources and retired rolling stock. This includes rail material recovered as part of major transport infrastructure projects, such as the Level Crossing Removal Project and Regional Rail Revival.

The measures will enable the groups to gradually expand their visitor experiences, grow revenue from ticket sales, increase services and create more paid and volunteer positions. The $2.2 million of funding and grants being provided to the sector, builds on the over $20 million the Government has directed to tourist and heritage organisations over the past five years.

The announcement comes at a time of significant change for the sector following investments by the Government to modernise Victoria’s passenger and freight rail networks, which has increased the frequency of services and affected the ability of tourist and heritage railways to access the busy regional network to operate their services.

With these changes occurring in the system a new voice for the sector, the Tourist and Heritage (T&H) Sector Coordinating Board, will help organisations share information and support each other.

All the measures were put together inconsultation with stakeholders from across the transport, heritage and tourism sectors and are set out in a document Preserving our rail history – a blueprint for the future.

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Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll

“Victoria has a rich railway heritage, and our tourist and heritage tram and railway organisations do an excellent job in preserving this for future generations, with a lot of this work being carried out by volunteers.”

“We want these organisations to thrive, so they can attract more visitors and volunteers, preserve more of our state’s transport artefacts and rolling stock, and work together to achieve the best outcome for the entire sector.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula

“From Puffing Billy in the Dandenongs to the Portland Cable Trams, heritage railways make a major contribution to Victoria’s tourism appeal. This support will help important local organisations and bolster jobs across the state.”

Reviewed 02 March 2021

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