Puffing Billy Railway, Victoria Australia
The Puffing Billy Railway is a narrow gauge 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge heritage railway in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne, Australia. The primary starting point, operations and administration centre, main refreshment room (also selling souvenirs) and ticket purchasing are located at Belgrave station. Journeys may also be commenced at out-stations of which some have limited facilities for the purchase of tickets, refreshments and souvenirs. (Tickets may also usually be purchased from the conductor on the train.)
The railway was originally one of five narrow gauge lines of the Victorian Railways opened around the beginning of the 20th century. It runs through the southern foothills of the Dandenong Ranges to Gembrook. Being close to the city of Melbourne and with a post-preservation history spanning over 50 years, the line is one of the most popular steam heritage railways in the world, and attracts tourists from all over Australia and overseas. The Puffing Billy Railway is kept in operation through the efforts of volunteers of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society, although intensive year-round operations necessitate a small band of paid employees to keep things going behind the scenes. The railway aims to preserve the line as near as possible to how it was in the first three decades of its existence, but with particular emphasis on the early 1920s.
Operations are centred on Belgrave, which houses the main offices of the railway (other offices are located at Emerald) as well as the locomotive running shed and locomotive workshops. It is also the base for track maintenance operations. Most trains start from Belgrave and travel to Lakeside, or to the terminus at Gembrook, and return. The railway operates every day of the year except Christmas Day, with at least two and up to six advertised services departing Belgrave each day. One service each day has the option of first-class carriages and lunch. A semi-regular service is the Dinner Train, which usually departs Belgrave on a Friday or Saturday evening and travels to Nobelius Siding, where the passengers disembark and have a sit-down dinner in the converted packing shed of the former Nobelius Nursery. After the meal, the passengers rejoin the train for the return journey to Belgrave. Savouries and drinks are served on the train. A popular feature of a ride on Puffing Billy is sitting on the ledge of the open-sided carriages. There is a narrow-gauge railway museum ajacent to Menzies Creek station.
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