News 2006                         


                                                                                      This page last altered 7/2/2006 

November 2006

The cessation of operations on the Main Line and concentration on HVTR services on its own lines can only be described as an unqualified success. The budget prepared for the first year of this change and the challenges we knew it would bring indicated that a moderate to heavy financial loss would be incurred. Well, HVTR did a lot better than we expected in passenger sales and did not put many people off by not picking them up in Perth. The net result is that HVTR will deliver a small profit for the 2006 year. This has been a terrific achievement by the organisation and its people.

The better than expected outcome has enabled limited expenditure in other areas and on initiatives such as installing computers at depots for use by all staff, progressing an internet based information sharing system which will ultimately provide an email facility and address for all members and deliver all newsletters, notices and other information to members, wherever they are anywhere in the world as well as providing access to rule books, training information and a wealth of other benefits. Also, the ARHS DE loco G 50 is back on the active projects list with the main generator armature currently being repaired at significant cost which we really wanted to get onto before the end of 2006 and have been able to due to the good financial performance of the organisation.

The good performance of train services and ticket sales has however placed great pressure on the relatively small percentage of active members. The railway is doing well commercially but more existing members need to assist and we need to increase the number of members of the organisation. The future of the organisation really is in the hands of the members.

The HVTR Board has heavily reviewed the ‘membership structure’ towards delivering more benefits to all members but particularly Active Members and having little or no fees payable by Active Members plus having all members able to commence their membership as Volunteer Members unless they elect to be passive Non-active Members. Non-active Members will be those who do not contribute above a minimum set level of volunteer hours (12 shifts) of assistance towards recognised activities of HVTR and they will have suitably set membership fees that contribute to the organisation financially.

In addition, training is receiving priority effort in order that persons willing to help can be assisted and trained to do so. Much of this over the last 12 months has been in the areas of loco operators but has been expanding into other areas and will continue to do so. Documenting and sharing knowledge through these processes improves the organisation, improves safety and helps all activities to be more uniform, consistent and better understood by all persons involved.

The railway has had a particularly good run this year in terms of reasonably low levels of significant repairs required to locomotives and rollingstock. Steam Loco G123 busted a few things including its repair budget, as did DM loco SEC1 however everything else ran well. The heavy repairs required to the leading wheel set of DM loco V4 are well underway however this work will exceed the original costs budgeted for.

Whilst on good runs, W920 got pretty good run this year. In addition to the 30 years of steam celebration train, W920 worked EVERY SteamRanger service this year, a total of 53 trains. Where double heading was required, the assisting of W920 was shared between W903 and W945.

Track maintenance has progressed very well this year primarily through the use of contractors. Approximately 1500 sleepers, of the 1900 target, have been replaced so far as well as significant rail joints maintenance on the Dwellingup to Etmilyn section. 

Speaking of Dwellingup to Etmilyn, well we don’t quite go to Etmilyn any more. After such a good run so far this year, I guess something had to go badly. There was a forest fire on Saturday October 28 which destroyed Davis Brook Bridge, several culverts, the small bridge at Etmilyn and buckled sections of track. Services are continuing to operate on the Dwellingup to Etmilyn section but only as far as the 29.900km point with special train working arrangements. HVTR is currently working on recovery and repair arrangements and we expect to have the line fully operational again by May 2007.

Finally, thank you to everyone that has worked in the many areas of the railways operations and depots etc this year. With the help of the members who have worked for it and the assistance of  our major sponsors, WestNet Rail & John Holland Rail, plus the ongoing assistance from the Peel Development Commission, HVTR has done exceedingly well this year. Well Done Everyone.

 October 2006

Saturday 28th October 2006

Fire on Etmilyn Line 

On Saturday October 28th a fire near the railway line at approximately the 30.5km location was observed by the returning morning train service from Etmilyn.  The fire was reported to the relevant combat agencies, who attended and brought the forest fire under control by late afternoon.

It is not known how the fire started, however it may have been the steam locomotive on its outward journey.  The fire is understood to have burnt several kilometres east of Davis Brook and several hundred metres in width either side of the railway line. 

Damage to the HVTR infrastructure is considerable and is confined to the last 2.5kms of the 8.5km line from Dwellingup to Etmilyn.  Davis Brook Bridge at the 30.350km and a  small bridge at the 32.650 km, near Etmilyn are a total loss as are two small  timber culverts.  Track damage is confined to two serious heat buckles and a surprisingly low number of burnt out sleepers.

Hotham Valley is still operational, with services departing from Dwellingup running as far as Holyoake located at the 27km peg, at a reduced fare.

Shortly trains will continue beyond Holyoake to an area of pre 1920 Jarrah re-growth at the 29.9km, at the regular fare, with a stopover at the historic site of Holyoake on the return journey.

Currently, as interim measures, The Restaurant Train is being worked with a locomotive at each end and the day time Forest Trains are being worked by one locomotive with a single open

Work has begun on planning and implementing repairs to the line, culverts and bridges, which will be undertaken as soon as possible.  As part of a staged approach, the loop may be re-installed at Holyoake to facilitate loco run rounds and improve operations

Photos  of the fire courtesy of Keith & Rebecca McPake


September 2006

Sunday 17 September

30th Anniversary Celebrations

Congratulations on a great day on Sunday 17 September, the train was full.

The passengers and guests started arriving from about 9.30am and the place was a hive of activity.  Just before 11:00am most of the crowd assembled at the front of the train for the cutting of the ribbon.  Brett Mohen welcomed everyone and then introduced the Hon Allanah MacTiernan, who then thanked Hotham Valley Tourist Railway for inviting her to this special celebration and all members for their voluntary work in keeping this railway running in such a successful manner.  The Minister then cut the ribbon and with a mighty three cheers all the passengers boarded the train and we were on our way.  With Vic Long, who also drove that first Steam trip 30 years ago, at the throttle and John Purcell the fireman on the leading locomotive and Martin Thobaven and Derek Castagnetti on the second loco.  Don Smith was on hand at the crossings to protect the traffic.

The journey up the hill was perfect, a great ride and beautiful weather, we arrived in Dwellingup right on time.  All the Dwellingup staff were there to welcome the visitors, a sausage sizzle was on hand with onions and sauce.  Thanks to the chefs Bev and Rebecca, while Moira was in the kiosk.

Face painting was available for any child who wanted to take part, ably applied by Julie and Anna Scull.

The VIPs were given a luncheon in the “Diner” on the back road, with Dave and his staff presiding with Vince looking after the drinks.

Meanwhile, after all  at the station had consumed their sausages, a beautifully iced and decorated cake,  cut by Vic Long, was handed out to all in attendance.

After a very enjoyable day we returned to Pinjarra on time.

32 Years of HVTR -  Some of the many Milestones and Events 


March 15 - First meeting of “Pinjarra Steam & Hills Preservation Society”


July 29 - Dining Car AV426 arrives in Pinjarra


March - Old Pinjarra Loco Depot leased from WAGR                                                          July - First Steam Loco, W920, arrives in Pinjarra and sent on to Midland Workshops      for servicing                                                                                                                          Sept 12 - W920 named “Sir Ross McLarty” and double heads with diesel F44 – first steam to Dwellingup


July 16 - W903 arrives in Pinjarra from Collie                                                                    July 17 - Track into old loco depot officially opened by WAGR District Engineer - Don Pearce                                                                                                                                                   July 23 - W945 arrives at Pinjarra from Collie                                                                     November 11 - Ex Millars steam loco G71 “Menzies” arrives at Pinjarra from Yarloop


May 28 - W945 enters service & with W920, hauls first double-headed steam tour to Dwellingup


Feb 10 to March 11 - W945 hauls City of Perth “Festival Fliers” in Perth                     March 11 - W908 arrives in Pinjarra from Midland                                                     Sleeping cars (8) leased from WAGR (later purchased in 1986)                                 October 21 - W903 enters service                                                                              November - 6 ex TGR Hobart suburban cars arrive - obtained with assistance from ALCOA


April - Steam Loco V1213 arrives at Pinjarra from Collie                                               April 18 to 20 - first HVR Extended ‘weekend’ Tour to Donnybrook Apple Festival


March 14 - Diesel Mechanical shunting loco Z1152 arrives at Pinjarra                      October 23 – New Yard and Shed opened at Dwellingup by WAGR’s Ian McCullough


Computer ‘dos’ ticketing system created by student computer programmer, Justin Von Perger                                                                                                                                            October - New ‘open shed’ as an extension to the Pinjarra loco depot completed


March 28 - W903 hauls last Westrail “Australind” to old Bunbury station


August 17 - HVR Services commence on the Dwellingup to Etmilyn line. “The Tramway"                                                                                                                                      October 1986 to February 1987 - W903 & W920 work America’s Cup “Spinnakers” at Fremantle                                                                                                                    November 30 - Ex Tasmanian Government Railway diesels V4 and V5 arrive at Fremantle from Tasmania


HVR wins Sir David Brand Tourism Award (also in 1988 & 1990)                               Steam loco G123 leased from Westrail (and later purchased)                                                 Steam 25t Breakdown Crane # 23, purchased from Westrail


April - W908 enters service                                                                                                       April 17 - W945 and 908 haul Bicentennial Train to Yarloop Steamfest                        October - First AH steel passenger cars arrive from South Africa                               December 17 – Eight AH cars unveiled by Pam Beggs MLA                                  December – Mainline Diesel loco XA 1401 arrives in Pinjarra 


February - Last of  the 25 AH cars arrive from South Africa                                                HVR experiences serious financial difficulty and holds large members meeting in Queens Park


January - Steam Loco Pm706 leased from Narrogin Apex arrives in Pinjarra               April - Bridgetown day tour train comprising 21 AH coaches                                              May 20 - Pm706 enters service on Gingin Tour                                                                June 2 - Pm706 suffers serious cylinder damage at Kununoppin


May 27 - Steam Loco V1213 enters service with Ian Willis & commences working HVR trains from Perth                                                                                                                   Mainline Diesel locomotive C1702 and later, locomotives C1701 and C1703, purchased by HVTR


October - Dwellingup line re-opens following months of closure by a large burnt out culvert replacement


January - Ex Narrogin signal box re-erected at Pinjarra                                                 Triple Headed W’s work special Steam Forest Ranger to Dwellingup from Pinjarra October - HVTR experiences serious financial difficulty and considers closure


New modern carriage and loco workshop completed at Pinjarra by Peel Development Commission


September - New modern Computer Ticketing and Tour Management system by V-Biz (Justin Von Perger)


Sleeping Cars and AH Coaches re-painted in new HVTR liveries


September 10 - W920 & Pm706 haul last HVTR steam train tour to Collie                October 9 - Pm706 hauls last HVTR steam train from Perth City Station                  December 31 – Last mainline service operated by HVTR.  New Years Eve train Perth to Northam


January 6 - HVTR returns to core objectives & to operate Pinjarra, Dwellingup & Etmilyn lines only                                                                                                              April - Sponsorship from WestNet Rail & John Holland Rail for insurance over Pinjarra to Alumina Junction                                                                                                  September 12 - Anniversary of 30 years of HVTR steam operations (celebrated with special train Sept 17)

May 2006

New Advertising Campaign

May 15th will see 3 large (6m x 3m) billboard advertisements appear along the older main roads to and from the City of Perth. The signs will be prominently displayed on Stirling Highway, Albany Highway and Guildford Road. More than half of the cost of this advertising has been met by sponsorship contributions to HVTR for the purpose from entities other than those already sponsoring HVTR for insurance. The billboards will be displayed at least until the end of July. Some may change their location.   

First Steam Ranger for 2006

Sunday May 7th saw G123 and W920 head a three coach train from Pinjarra to Dwellingup. It was a great day with 111 passengers on the first Steam Ranger train for 2006 and a good turnout of many people following the train, photographing or just looking as well as chatting to each other at the various vantage points and level crossings. It was very rewarding to see such enthusiast activity which was similar to how things were in days gone by where there was always a good motorcade of 'gunzels' following steam specials etc.  Many photos have been posted on various websites and they are great to see. One well known train photographer made a donation at Dwellingup saying it was the best day he had had in years.  G123 remained in Dwellingup for its season of working the Dwellingup Forest Trains on weekends and school holidays.

In another first time in many years, the steam loco powering the train (W920) returned tender first as part of our risk management for the new insurance arrangements. In order to reduce risk exposure opportunities, HVTR will only make very limited use of the Pinjarra triangle and old steam loco depot. The primary purpose of this is to effectively 'quarantine' our operations from the Transwa Australind where there is an increased risk exposure due to it being a passenger train.

The ensuing services on Wednesday May 10th and Mothers Day Sunday May 14th were well patronised bringing a strong start to the steam season.

The first of the more usual ‘double header’ Steam Rangers, with W920 and W903, is expected to be run on Friday May 26th, for a special school charter.

                                                                          April  2006

Track works

During April 2006 significant track and bridge work was undertaken on both the Dwellingup - Etmilyn and Alumina Junction – Dwellingup sections largely funded by the Peel Development Commission as part of the Rail Heritage Foundation of WA - Peel Tourist Railway Project.

Most of the track work was undertaken by a team of track attendants from Skilled Rail Services. Their timeliness, quality, productivity and dedication to their job and the various necessary tasks was nothing short of outstanding, delivering a wonderful result for HVTR, finishing late on Saturday May 6th, just in time for the first train service on the Sunday.

As for bridgework, another bridge received heavy attention this year. The 2 span bridge located at the 3.221km had one main beam renewed and was fully re-decked inclusive of ballast beams. This was once again undertaken as a combined effort by the Pemberton Tramway Co and Hotham Valley Railway, utilising the relevant skills, resources and equipment, etc of each organisation. A unique feature of the work undertaken was that all of the timber, some of which was a very heavy section, was cut from Fire Wood Grade logs by the Dwellingup Sawmill. The only way to get rock ballast to the bridge was by hi-rail ute from an access point near Alumina Junction. The ute was loaded by a front end loader and driven to the bridge where it was shovelled off, placed and packed by hand. 18 tonnes of ballast was placed in 6 hours by two of the Skilled Rail Services track work team, an incredible effort.



Friday 21st April 2006

Corporate Sponsorship 

Enables Train Departures from Pinjarra

Thanks to generous sponsorship by WestNet Rail and John Holland to assist with the purchase of insurance cover for the 2km of mainline between Pinjarra and Alumina Junction, HVTR Steam Rangers from Pinjarra to Dwellingup will re-commence from Sunday May 7, 2006.

WestNet Rail and John Holland confirmed today that they would sponsor HVTR for the next five years to help pay for HVTR's $100mil public liability insurance required to operate between Pinjarra and Alumina Junction. WestNet Rail sought the cover, on HVTR’s behalf, through their extensive resources and those of their brokers, Aon.  The cover will be purchased directly by HVTR.

In return for this significant support, HVTR will be acknowledging the sponsorship of WestNet Rail and John Holland on brochures, tickets,

So it seems it is 'all go' from May with HVTR’s first Steam Ranger Sunday May 7, departing Pinjarra at 11am thanks to WestNet Rail  & John Holland.

Steam Loco G123 is likely to be transferred to Dwellingup for use on the Forest Railway, during the preceding week.

This is a great outcome to what could otherwise have been a most unfortunate situation at Pinjarra for HVTR.

This partnership sees  key participants of the commercial rail industry choosing to recognize and support their heritage, as well as contributing to something which brings delight to people of all ages, along with enhancing tourism, economic and social benefits to the Peel Region and WA in general. HVTR and those who will derive these benefits are most grateful.

Click Here for HVTR's "New Direction" Press Release

19th January 2006

With the recent withdrawal of HVTR from Mainline Operations came the need to relocate some of the organisations motive power & rolling stock to other areas of the railway

On Tues 10th of January C1703 was stirred into action and with two mainline tank cars JDA 288 & JHR 50, moved to the western loco depot area at Pinjarra where W class steam locomotives 945, 920 & 903  were coupled together and propelled/hauled from the western side of Pinjarra yard to the Eastern side.

  Using  0-6-0 Drewery Diesel Z1152, Tank cars JDA 288 & JHR 50 were then positioned over the inspection pits in the loco shed along with the RCH bogie open wagon once used for carrying coal on long distance tours. C1703 then moved west again and then coupled up to Z 1152 and moved it also to the Eastern yard. The pictures below give a good comparison of the diminutive Z class to the large C Class diesels.

On Wednesday 11th January 2006 C1703 propelled Z1152, AQL 290 (Mullewa Buffet Car) and AQZ 424 (Sleeping Car) from Pinjarra Yard to Alumina Junction and then returned light engine to Pinjarra Eastern yard. This was to be the last mainline operation for HVTR under the current operating arrangements.

Earlier in the day SEC1 was dispatched from Dwellingup to Alumina Junction to make the climb up to Dwellingup,  hauling the two coaches and Z1152.

Z1152 has been moved to Dwellingup for use as a back up locomotive for Forest Railway Services. AQL Buffet Car "Mullewa" will possibly see use on the Etmilyn Diner Restaurant Train & Forest Trains also.


Hotham Valley Railway To Focus On Core Objectives

6th January 2006

The Hotham Valley Tourist Railway has embarked on a significant change to its operational programme for the coming year and its future. Following a strategic review, Hotham Valley has decided to suspend ‘Mainline’ (state rail network) operations and focus on further developing existing and new operational initiatives on its own Branch Line from Alumina Junction (2km east of Pinjarra) to Etmilyn (8km east of Dwellingup). The only ‘Mainline’ operation to remain will be on the 2km of Network Tracks between Pinjarra and Alumina Junction, once the mechanisms for this to be undertaken within affordable costs are resolved.

It is also planned that, in conjunction with the Rail Heritage Foundation of WA, the Peel Development Commission and other stakeholders, restoration of the rail line and commencement of services all the way to Boddington (50km east of Dwellingup) will ultimately be achieved.

These changes and initiatives will see Hotham Valley focus on its Constitutional Objects, which are:

(a)        to preserve and keep in operation and to develop as a national tourist attraction the branch railway line between Pinjarra and Etmilyn and other railway lines of scenic or historical interest;

(b)        to obtain and maintain in operational condition steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, rolling stock and items of railway equipment associated with the development of Western Australia and other equipment for the operation of a tourist railway;

(c)        to co-operate with the Western Australian Government Railways Commission in the operation and services of the Pinjarra Etmilyn Branch railway or any portion of it, and to preserve, restore operate and develop railway lines of historic or scenic attraction;

(d)        to arrange, promote, conduct and direct such tours, outings and excursions as may be profitable to the Railway.

In the last few years the railway, which this year celebrates its 32nd birthday and 30th anniversary of commencement of Steam Train services to Dwellingup, has emerged from a burden of debt and now, being debt free, is committed to consolidating and maximising its long term viability. During the review process it became clear to the Board of the Society that several issues were looming as major challenges in the coming years. The changing and escalating regulatory and compliance environment that all railways have to address and which is a reflection of evolving and increasing societal expectations, is one of these challenges. Another is the way these changes and expectations are reflected in insurance costs. Confronted with these realities, the society, which is dependent on volunteers for all its operations, has recognised that it does not have the human, financial or equipment resources to adequately sustain these needs at the demanding levels required for Mainline operations and at the intensity of services necessary to meet the financial imperatives.

A society such as HVTR is a recreational activity for those who choose to be members. The pressures of the enormous ‘task’ in operating such a large enterprise detracts from this recreational opportunity making it difficult to staff services, to attract and retain new members. This has also been an influencing factor in the decision to exit mainline operations thereby reducing the ‘task’ to a level more commensurate with the available resources of all types.

            Apart from extension ultimately to Boddington the Hotham Branch has the potential for a wider range of railway experiences. Well known for its daily Forest Trains and heritage Etmilyn Diner operations out of Dwellingup and the winter Steam Ranger trains that work the line “up the hill” from Pinjarra to Dwellingup, the society is discussing an exciting range of new offerings to be developed in the months and years ahead. Some restorations of heritage vehicles and adaptations of other existing equipment open up a range of product opportunities.

Although the railway is sad to withdraw from the various entertainment, country show and race trains operated widely across the state rail network, HVTR, given its hard earned independence from financial burdens and other obligations, sees 2006 as the right time to make the choice to concentrate on opportunities to improve its own line operations consistent with the original visions of its founders. Hotham Valley Railway recognises this decision will place new financial challenges for the first year or two however it is committed to meeting these challenges.

             The society plans to initiate further recruitment and training of new members to help staff the expanding range of activities planned.

Hotham Valley Railway is very grateful to the many members, general public, companies, government departments and Ministers, who have believed in and contributed so much to the survival and successes of the railway over the past 32 years.

We look forward to continuing these partnerships and sharing our further and new success for the next 32 years and beyond.

The Board of Management

Hotham Valley Tourist Railway.




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