PRESS RELEASE - Castlemaine Redevelopment Project
We are delighted to acknowledge the generosity of the Victorian Government, through Regional Development Victoria, in partnering with the VGR in this major initiative by providing a grant of $500,000 towards funding Stage 2 of our Castlemaine Redevelopment Project.
In achieving this we acknowledge the support of our local member Maree Edwards MP and the Minister for Regional Development, Hon. Jaala Pulford.
This significant grant along with our own resources will enable us to relocate our operating base from the current temporary site at Maldon to the historic but abandoned steam depot within the Castlemaine rail precinct.
Photo courtesy of Maree Edwards MP
- Reinforces Maldon, the National Trust-classified notable town, as an iconic must-do tourism destination.
- Enables increased return services to Maldon offering more flexibility and expanded experiences for day and overnight visitors to our area.
- Will house priceless heritage carriages and locomotives, some dating back to the 1880s, securely and out of the weather.
- Delivers the essential foundation infrastructure for regular steam tourist train operations in regional Victoria to cater for growing numbers of local tourists and the ever increasing numbers of international tourists.
- Is a game-changer for the VGR in our ability to far more efficiently carry the rapidly increasing numbers of passengers on this great tourism and heritage experience.
The project is shovel-ready and work can commence almost immediately. The benefits will start flowing from mid 2019.
Funding of Stage 2 also enables:
- Detailed planning to support running regular main line steam tourist trains from Castlemaine to Bendigo and onto Echuca/Swan Hill to tap into the wonderful tourism opportunities on the Murray River.
- Subsequent development of a dedicated locomotive restoration and maintenance facility at Castlemaine with the creation of a number of new local jobs.
In acknowledging the State Government funding support for the VGR, President Steve Strangward said;
“This is the foundation stone for the development of the historic Castlemaine railway precinct and its integration with other great Castlemaine based tourism, heritage and community attractions.”
The new Castlemaine operating base transforms the VGR branchline operation to Maldon and greatly improves the financial sustainability of the VGR.
It is a springboard to open up opportunities for significant developments in the practical operation of steam trains around Bendigo and especially to Echuca port with its unique Australian Murray river paddle steamer experience
Further details will be provided in the next issue of the VGR's member's newsletter - Branchline.