The International Steam Pages

Lachlan Valley Railway

Ian Larcher Email responded (May 19th 2002) to my original entry for the LVR which will be of interest. I have made very minor edits which referred to errors in my text which I have now corrected!

"I thought that I may be able to help out with info on the Lachlan Valley Railway, as I am a regular volunteer and former Director. I am presently overseeing the restoration of the societies C32 class 4-6-0 number 3237 (Beyer Peacock 1892)

The LVR no longer has a license to operate over the Cowra- Trajere section of the Eugowra Branch Line, and in fact this line has now closed due to a large bridge over the Lachlan River at Canowindra being severely damaged in a flood some years ago (and since removed). The NSW State Government is now looking at rebuilding this and other bridges and re-opening the line for wheat traffic due to agitation from farmers and residents in the area. (Large artic wheat trucks are destroying the local roads and lanes as this line is in the heart of the Central Western Wheat fields which grow millions of tonnes of wheat per annum)

The LVR used to hold a lease over the full 75km section between Blayney on the Main Western Railway (Sydney - Broken Hill) and Cowra and was responsible for all upkeep and maintenance - not a bad effort for a small by any standards preservation group. This lease was relinquished back to the NSW state government, who substantially rehabilitated the line (tens of millions of dollars) in the hope of attracting wheat traffic as well as general goods off the local road system - at the moment no other operator has used the line as they see it as uneconomical! However the LVR is rather pleased as we can run over it when ever we like. At the time we relinquished this line we were granted access to any part of NSW accessible by rail so our trips now have a much broader operating sphere.

The LVR used to have another separate operating division, Lachlan Valley Railfreight, which operated wheat trains on the Cowra - Eugowra branch line and connected with the Government system at Cowra, where government engines took over the haulage. Of course after the Canowindra bridge was washed out that put paid to that.

The company was then reformed and purchased by a group of mainly LVR members, and commenced main line operations all over the state in competition with the Government System (recently fully privatized). This has been very successful. The LVR has maintained a small shareholding in this new company, and until recently supplied them with several engines on a lease basis. (ex NSWGR 47 class D.E.) 1000hp branch line units built by Goninian - Hitachi. However their rapid growth has now all but precluded light branch line engines being used on their trains and they now lease main line units.

As I said before the LVR is a very small group even by Australian standards (approx 350 members of which about 24 could be considered regular workers) and very isolated from the major cities so we have considerable trouble in attracting volunteers, but that is the way we like it - we don't want to be some mega preservation center with dozens of engines as you have in the UK- for one we could never hope to get the volunteer labour to restore and operate them, and two we could never hope to regularly fill our trains. We just don't have the population base for either.

We usually run to a major center 5-6 times a year on bank holiday weekends and try to go to a different center each time. Bear in mind that we may have to take the train 300 or even 400km  empty just to get to a center! so we don't make a fortune out of it - but everyone is happy. Our members, many of whom have qualified to operate steam and diesel trains over the NSW system, and of course the public who in many case have not seen a steam train for 15-20 years or more.

We presently have only one operable steam locomotive, a D53 class 2-8-0 number 5367 built by the Clyde Engineering Co in 1914, but have another three engines undergoing repairs or restoration. These are a C30T class 4-6-0, number 3026 originally built as a suburban tank engine and converted to a tender engine c1930- these were the principal branch line engines in NSW right up until the end of steam. A C32 class 4-6-0 express passenger engine previously mentioned, which is in the final stages of a ten year restoration. And a D59 class 2-8-2, number 5917 which is presently having a new tubeplate fitted. It was built by Baldwin- Lima- Hamilton to a std wartime design and 20 were purchased by the NSWGR in 1952 when a motive power shortage dictated that suitable motive power be obtained as soon as possible, and no British or Australian firm could supply for years. It is a favorite out here with its classic American lines and deep riverboat whistle.

We also have restored 8 Diesel Locomotives, 2 Railmotors (with another 4 on the way) which along with our passenger rolling stock is quite enough!"

Rob Dickinson