Walhalla night rail to run

Walhalla Goldfields Railway will operate on Saturday nights in August. photograph supplied

Walhalla Goldfields Railway will operate on Saturday nights in August. photograph supplied

Stringer’s Gorge at Walhalla will be illuminated on Saturday nights in August as the railway continues to raise funds for its rail motor project to extend the railway operation to seven days a week.

Passengers will board the train at Walhalla Station and head down through the gorge - illumined in captivating colours - before arriving at Thompson Station to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Walhalla Goldfields Railway administration officer Brenda Leviston said despite the Walhalla Vinter Ljusfest not running this year, the organisation was hoping to attract several thousand people to the town for the event.

"We had a lot of success during the light festival last year. The trains were very popular with the visitors so we thought we'd do it again," Ms Leviston said.

"Everyone gets a glow stick and hot chocolate because it'll be pretty cold. You'll also get a hot water bottle to keep you warm but it's a good idea to rug up because some of the carriages are open and it can get pretty breezy."

Funds raised from the event will go towards the restoration of former Melbourne tram 461 – built in 1926 which serviced the Footscray network for the majority of its life.

The tram will be turned into converted into a diesel locomotive at a cost of about $450,000 which is expected have long-lasting benefits for the region.

"We're currently [operating] three days a week but with the new rail motor we're hoping to expand our operation to seven days a week which will boost tourism in the town," Walhalla Goldfields Railway secretary and train driver Graeme Skinner said.

"The railway is a big drawcard to the town. We bring people here and we need to keep on improving it to bring those people in. We did very well out of it last year and we thought we couldn't let a good opportunity go by the wayside."

The introduction of the rail motor to service will require fewer volunteers than the full crew needed to operate the existing locomotives.

Walhalla Goldfields Railway will be required to raise $150,000 for the project over the coming years and Mr Skinner said the project was dependent on people visiting the railway and supporting one of the region's biggest tourism attractions.

"I imagine we'll be using the big fella, the 10 class, this month because it'll be pulling probably four carriages depending on numbers ... it should be good," he said.

Trains will run on Saturday nights at 6pm and 8pm. For more information and essential bookings, visit walhallarail.com.au.

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