A MUCH anticipated visit from an R-Class steam train through Camperdown may have been late on Saturday, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of onlookers.
The locomotive, along with nine heritage carriages and a diesel engine was scheduled to pass through Camperdown at about 12.30pm, but was half an hour late.
Organiser and train enthusiast Eddie White said the diesel engine was added to the service to provide extra power, but had failed.
“It didn’t work at all between Melbourne and Camperdown, but once we got to Camperdown, all it took was a five cent plastic cable tie to get out of trouble,” he said.
Locals gathered on the platform and along the north side of the station tracks to view the train, which rolled into town sounding its trademark whistle amid a ball of steam.
Other locals lined the tracks along the way, with many stopping at crossings to film the train as it passed by.
“People were up on the hills waving, at the crossings, it was just fantastic to see,’ Mr White said.
“Everyone loves the old trains and it’s a real treat to have this one back on the line again.”
After leaving Camperdown, the steam train gathered momentum to take on a 1960s Ag-Cat biplane in a race to Allansford, adding to the journey’s fun.
“The plane had quite a big tailwind so the pilot ended up using quite a lot of fuel trying to hold it back so it would be a bit closer to the train,” Mr White said.
“In the end, the plane was starting to run low on fuel, so it just had to take off and well and truly beat us into Allansford.
“It was great to have the plane be a part of the day and we were able to live stream from both the train and the plane as the race unfolded, which was great.”
The R711 dated back to 1951, while the S-Class diesel engine dated back to 1961 and the nine carriages dated from 1936 to 1956.
Two hundred and seventy passengers made the trip from Melbourne or Geelong through to Warrnambool, with a further 600 locals enjoying return shuttle trips to Allansford.
“Steamrail Victoria ran this trip and are very happy with how it went,” Mr White said.
“The train’s definitely a talking point now, and something people really look forward to.
“We’ve already started talks about running another visit next year and are even thinking about making it for a full weekend, with the passengers put up in accommodation and offered a selection of tours or activities to enjoy.”
Mr White thanked everyone who turned out to support the train and wave to the passengers as the service passed through.
“It’s great to see everyone enjoy the train – we couldn’t ask for more,” he said.