Full steam ahead as Puffing Billy morphs into Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas and all his fun-loving friends are back for more adventures this March and April, for the highly anticipated return of a Day out With Thomas at Puffing Billy’s Gembrook station.

The whole family can enjoy a great day out with everyone’s favourite little blue engine, as it takes passengers on a 35-minute train ride departing from Gembrook’s heritage platform through to Fielder station and back.

Journey through the native ‘Mountain Ash’ trees and open eucalypt hillsides of Gembrook, while following the clues to complete an exciting Thomas-themed scavenger hunt.

Upon returning, the fun will continue with a range of other all-inclusive activities on offer, including:

  • Photo opportunities with Thomas himself and The Fat Controller;
  • A 20-minute Thomas Show;
  • More photo opportunities with the Troublesome Trucks and Bulgy Bus;
  • The chance to watch the engines shunting through the yards, and;
  • A digital activity pack, complete with Junior Engineer Certificate and activity sheets.

Parents can take the hassle out of their day out With Thomas and pre-book lunch for the whole family, with their choice of a Junior Drivers Lunch, Train Drivers Lunch or the Ultimate Day out With Thomas package, which includes a Thomas the Tank Engine showbag full of goodies to play with at home.

With sessions available at 10.00am, 12.00pm and 2.00pm, join the adventure on:

  • Saturday 27th March 2021.
  • Sunday 28th March 2021.
  • Saturday 17th April 2021.
  • Sunday 18th April 2021.

“We look forward to having Thomas reunite with Puffing Billy Railway this Autumn and encourage people to get in early as our Day out With Thomas events are always popular and sell out quickly,” said Matt Collopy, Puffing Billy Railway event manager.

V/Line train going through level crossing. Photo: RailGallery.com.au

Upgrades to deliver more train services for Gippsland

A CONTRACTOR has been appointed to deliver the Gippsland Line Upgrade’s major package of works, rail upgrades between Pakenham and Traralgon to enable more frequent and reliable train services.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan and Victorian Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing recently announced VicConnect, a consortium comprising UGL Limited, Decmil and Arup would deliver the much-needed upgrades.

“This investment in the Gippsland Line is all about improving train services for people in the region, now and into the future,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“This major package of works Gippsland Line Upgrade will deliver even more benefits for passengers and local industry and is yet another example of our record $110 billion nationwide infrastructure plan getting people home sooner and safer while driving our economic recovery.”

The improvements include duplicating track, extending the Morwell crossing loop, upgrading level crossings and signalling, adding second platforms at three stations along the line and reactivating the second platform at Traralgon.

The second platform at Morwell Station has been redesigned after consultation with Latrobe City Council and the local community to improve connectivity with the bus interchange.

Darren Chester said the works would allow Traralgon trains to travel every 40-minute between the peaks and give passengers a more reliable service.

“These upgrades are absolutely vital to keep the communities of Gippsland connected to each other and to Melbourne,” Chester said.

“We’ve seen the benefits of this investment for local suppliers and local employment – there has never been a better time for this investment to help the local economic recovery from COVID-19.

“We’re investing in the people of Gippsland and the future prosperity of the region.”

Early works for the project are already underway with the contractor carrying out signalling and track inspections while trains weren’t running in February due to level crossing removal and V/Line maintenance works.

Site investigations and surveying will continue in the coming weeks at Bunyip, Longwarry, Morwell and Traralgon to support major construction ramping up in the coming months.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said prioritising local workers and companies is a big focus for the newly appointed contractor.

“With more than 25 local contractors and suppliers taking part in construction of the new Avon River Bridge, we’re putting local workers at the heart of this project,” Ms Allan said.

“This larger package of works will deliver even more benefits for the local economy – and will mean the Gippsland Line Upgrade has created more than 500 vital local jobs for Eastern Victoria.”

Harriett Shing said the contractor would host industry briefings in the coming months for local contractors and suppliers looking for opportunities to participate in the project.

“Our contractors will open a project office in Morwell later this year – making sure we can work closely with the local community throughout construction and get Gippsland businesses involved,” Shing said.

The project also includes upgrades to drainage structures at Morwell River and a Victorian-first trial of solar-powered wireless level crossing detection technology at Farrells Lane in Stratford.

The Victorian Government is also delivering a new station at Pakenham East including dedicated V/Line tracks, to avoid congestion and improve reliability – and V/Line passengers will be able to connect at Pakenham for a train directly through to Melbourne Airport from 2029, as planning work continues on the Australian and Victorian governments’ Melbourne Airport Rail project.

The Gippsland Line Upgrade is being delivered as part of the Regional Rail Revival program, which is upgrading every regional passenger rail line in Victoria and creating 3,000 jobs.