Lithgow Railway Workshop (LRW) has been working hard on its largest project to date after the first shipment of Southern Aurora carriages arrived just three weeks ago.
The project will take approximately six months, with 14 carriages to be restored from the 1962 vintage Southern Aurora train.
The train was originally used as an overnight sleeper train from Sydney to Melbourne, with sleeping compartments only.
However it was retired in the mid 80’s to a museum in Canberra and was used as a heritage train with special charters.
After the museum went into liquidation, its assets were sold.
LRW has a contract with G’Day Rail, a tourism travel company which purchased the Southern Aurora train from the museum.
Lithgow Railway Workshop director Tim Elderton said the awarding of such a large contract showed that the workshop and staff were capable of all facets of rolling-stock, restoration and maintenance.
“It will be restored to original [condition], with hidden minor refinements such as replacing the ash trays with USB charging pockets. One of the major modifications is the installation of toilet holding tanks,” he said.
The new train will also have dining, entertainment and lounge carriages all located near each other, so people can enjoy a beverage and a show.
“There will be little refinements to make it comfortable for the modern traveller,” Tim Elderton said.
Employers have their work cut out for them, restoring two carriages per month.
Currently there are five carriages waiting to come into the workshop.
With so much work to do, Mr Elderton said the project had allowed for further employment opportunities in the Lithgow rail service industry.
There are currently 45 local employees working on the project.
Among those are ex-work for the dole scheme employees, who were previously trained up.
Once commissioned the train will be brought back to the LRW for repairs and services. Tim Elderton said he was delighted that this would mean ongoing work for local employees, boosting Lithgow’s economy.
“This train will bring millions into Lithgow. We are also using as many local supplies as possible for parts,” he said.
The Southern Aurora is to be fully overhauled by June 2018 to G’Day Rail, where it will run around regional NSW and have five different cruise options.