Steam trains would return to the Yarra Valley for the first time in 40 years under a re-elected Labor State Government.
The 14-kilometre Yarra Valley Railway would run between Yarra Glen and Healesville with $3.75 million in funding to finish the restoration project.
Visitors would be able to ride an historic steam train between the towns, stopping at restored railway stations and historic work sheds, as well as wineries and a museum.
The trains could carry up to 600 passengers and more than 250,000 visitors are expected to ride the tourist train each year.
The railway would also connect to the Yarra Valley Rail Trail so cyclists could board the train at various points along the route.
The Yarra Valley Railway organisation expects the project to generate $30 million for the local economy and create about 120 jobs.
“This community-driven project will attract more visitors to experience the best of the Yarra Valley, boosting jobs and the region’s economy,” Tourism Minister John Eren said.
Local residents, community groups and businesses raised $2.74 million towards the project, which is the largest volunteer infrastructure project in Australia.
“Locals have put their blood, sweat and tears into building the Yarra Valley Railway,” Deputy Premier James Merlino said.
More than 500 individual volunteers, 10 community groups and more than 100 local businesses have given their time, expertise and materials to make the project happen.
This includes the donation of more than 5000 tonnes of stony ballast and 17.5 kilometres of steel track from the State Government’s level crossing removal projects.
The first stage of the railway project is almost finished, including the restoration of station platforms, buildings and railway yards at Yarra Glen and Tarrawarra Railway Stations, 16 railway bridges and nine kilometres of track.
The second and final stage would include redeveloping the historic Healesville Railway Station precinct and upgrading the remaining four kilometres of railway track and bridges from Healesville to Tarrawarra Estate.