PE 82 and PE 83
Locations; Puffing Billy Railway Stations at Belgrave and Gembrook
-37.9074, 145.3567 and -37.9520, 145.5495
In 1959 Victorian Railways ceased services on the Dandenong Ranges narrow-gauge line, whose engines are known collectively to all as Puffing Billy. The Railways Historical Society took over the line to operate a passenger service from Belgrave at weekends for tourists, but almost immediately a landslide blocked the track at Selby.
FOR PRESS. 583
ARMY TO RE-OPEN PUFFING BILLY RAILWAY.
Statement by the Minister for the Minister for the Army, the Hon. J.O. Cramer.
Citizen Military Forces Engineers in Victoria would combine essential training with the Public Service this year by undertaking work to re-open the “Puffing Billy” narrow gauge line between Belgrave and Emerald, the Minister for the Army, Mr. Cramer, announced today.
The Army had been asked to undertake the work which was beyond the resources of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society, and had accepted willingly, he said. Railway construction work was essential engineering in war but exceedingly difficult to arrange satisfactorily for peacetime training. Young soldiers learned far better lessons when working on something of real use and permanent value than on work of an “exercise nature”.
Details of the work to be done were being arranged with the Victorian Railways Commissioners, At present terminal facilities at Belgrave and a loop terminal at Lakeside near Emerald were contemplated. Work to bypass a landslide at Menzies Creek was also needed. This would open eight miles of the narrow guage line for excursions run by the Society and much patronised by children.
Previously these excursions were run between upper Ferntree Gully and Belgrave but stopped when the railways began extending the electric broad gauge railway to Belgrave.
The engineers had also agreed to construct a bridge capable of taking nine ton loads to give access to the boy scouts new reserve at upper Beaconsfield,
Units involved are 3 Field Engineer Regiment and 5 Corps Engineer Regiment. Using full mechanical plant and equipment they estimate the work involves 16,000 man hours. This represents a small fraction only of their regular annual home training time,
(Lists A, B, and C)
Canberra; Capt. N.C.J. Hoffmann
CANBERRA. 10th July, 1959
Army assistance over the next two years from 3 Field Engineer Regiment, initially through 10 Squadron, ARA plant operators from 21 Construction Squadron at Puckapunyal, was a major factor in the restoration of the line to Menzies Creek and Lts subsequent extensions to Emerald Lake. Works included coal bins at Belgrave tracklaying, earth works, twin water towers at Emerald and the installation of points and sidings
Thus began a very fruitful relationship which continues to this day. The Ringwood units became life members of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society (also called the Emerald Tourist Railway Board) after their annual camp in 1990