A 55-year-old heritage train once used on regional rail lines in NSW made its longest-ever mainline journey on Tuesday 15 November 2016, when it carried 90 rail and sail passengers on a 800-kilometre trip from the Victorian town of Seymour to Sydney.
Cruise travel specialist, Cruise Express, which ran the unique cruise tour, invited rail buffs and locals in towns from Seymour to Sydney to see the two-car, 620-class rail motor, stop or pass by and give the passengers from around Australia a welcoming wave.
The record-breaking rail journey was part of a four-night tour that included a three-night cruise from Sydney to Melbourne aboard Golden Princess, a night in Melbourne, dinner on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant and the return train trip to Sydney, initially aboard the historic Spirit of Progress from Melbourne to Seymour and then aboard the rail motor through to Sydney.
Built in 1961 and operated by the Rail Motor Society and based in Paterson in the Hunter Valley, the rail motor set 621/721 has been preserved in its original Indian red colour scheme and is the only 620-class rail motor in active preservation service. The NSW Government built 18 620-class diesel sets from 1961 to 1971, with six sets remaining in active commuter service in the Hunter area until 2007. The sets although were used all over NSW till the early 1990s. Unlike modern trains, the rail motor’s windows can still be opened so passengers could enjoy fresh air, unencumbered views and wave to sightseers.
The rail motor’s pairing with the famous Spirit of Progress on the cruise tour was another rail history first. The Seymour Railway Heritage Centre also assisted with the historic rail journey. This was the rail motor’s first-ever visit to Seymour. Aboard the rail motor from Seymour to Sydney, eight rail enthusiast volunteers, including two drivers from Junee, accompanied the 90 passengers, who lunched en route at the 138-year-old Junee Railway Station, with refreshments also brought aboard at Goulburn from local suppliers.
Cruise Express Director Meg Hill said the heritage rail and sail tour had proved very popular with travellers, with another planned for April 2017, with the rail motor this time travelling from Sydney to Seymour.