Maffra has welcomed its first train since 1993 – but this time it arrived on the back of a truck!
The Gippsland Vehicle Collection has purchased a disused Guard’s Van – a train carriage equipped with a brake that could be applied by the guard if required.
The significance of the van, built by A. E. Goodwin in 1956, comes partly from its serial number 1 of 40 built, and partly from the fact that it was used on the Maffra line when it was in service.
It arrived at the GVC a few weeks ago, delivered by truck and manoeuvred into place by two large forklifts.
“The carriage requires a large restoration effort, but the nominated crew has already gotten started and a big effort last Friday got the roof cleaned and most of the non-original interior fittings removed,” GVC Display Manager, Leigh Sheilds, said.
“Once the van is refurbished, we will mount it on train tracks at the disused platform at the side of the Museum building, and it will house a collection of early Gippsland Railway history inside, which will add another dimension to the transport experience of visitors to the Museum.”
Leigh said it took a big effort to get the carriage from where it had been resting at Altona North, organising a low loader and verifying a suitable transport route; then liaising with the owners of two large forklifts and their operators to be on site at the GVC at the required time for unloading.
GVC Vice President, Peter Quennell, said the carriage was an additional tourism asset for the GVC.
”We have been appealing to vehicle enthusiasts since we opened with our rotating vehicle exhibit, which changes every four months. The opening of Model World Maffra and the impressive façade and refurbishment at the rear of the building that was required to house it, at the end of last year, provided a new element to our offering and a new attraction for visitors.
“This train carriage will be yet another attraction for new visitors, and another reason for visitors who have already been to come again.
“We are very grateful to the Maffra & District Community bank for helping us to fund this community project through their sponsorship program.”
The Guard’s Van weighs a formidable 38 tonnes and has a capacity of 10 tonnes. It was used on the goods trains to Bairnsdale, travelling via the Maffra line until the new station was built at Sale and services were routed via the parallel Traralgon-Sale-Stratford Railway.
The platform, where the carriage will take pride of place at the Museum site, was built during World War II when the building was a vegetable dehydration factory. The platform was used to load dehydrated vegetables onto trains that then got the products on their way to troops as part of their rations.
The Guard’s Van was built for use on high speed goods trains but as the vans were sometimes required for use on passenger trains, they were also designed for passenger train speeds.
It is anticipated that the Guard’s Carriage will be refurbished and ready on its platform for visitors to explore it by late next year.