WARRAGUL’S historic J550 steam train was moved from its display in Rotary Park on Sunday for restoration and operation in Noojee.
Over the course of several hours the train was secured, lifted and loaded onto trailers for transport to its new home while a small group of spectators watched.
The Baw Baw Shire Council motioned to hand management of the train to the Noojee and District Historical Society for use as part of its Noojee Heritage Project Centre development in April last year.
Shortly before the train was lifted project manager Will Langoor told The Warragul Citizen that to get this far with the project was “a dream come true”.
“This is a dream come true for us, this is going to be fabulous,” Mr Langoor said.
The Warragul Citizen about the move:
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“There’s been hurdles everywhere. We started this eight years ago with a small group of friends who came up with an idea.
“We then applied to DSE for the original railway siding land [and] that took nearly six years before we finally got that signed over.”
The removal and restoration of the train is only stage one of a five-stage project expected to cost just under $4 million.
“We’ll be constantly be trying to get some funding so eventually we’ll get the thing restored and up and going, but we’ll actually do the outside cosmetic work ourselves,” Mr Langoor said.
The next step is to rebuild the Noojee station.
“We’ll actually start to build the station platform, which is a replica of the 100-year-old one, and then we’ll put down 200 metres of track and… actually pull it (the train) back along the platform… so people will actually be able to go on it when the centre’s open,” Mr Langoor said.
Optimistic despite criticism
The project has been criticised by railway enthusiasts who said the train has had too much removed from it to be restorable and the society was too small to manage the project.
“I’ve seen occasional things on the net, papers stuff like that, obviously people who are railway people that are railway people,” Mr Langoor said in reference to the comments.
“Things that we don’t know we’ll find out, and the important thing is… if we need to actually get people that have skills to do it up then we’ll source those skills.
“I’m always the believer [that] if you get the money it don’t matter (sic) what is missing off it, you can buy it or actually get it made.
“I’m optimistic that one day we’ll see that, probably people might think that it’s a bit optimistic, but they said that about us eight years ago and look where we are now.”
“It’s the impossible task and we’ve achieved the impossible task and you just move on with it.”