Full-steam ahead for XPT as Millthorpe gets back on track
It was back to the future for the re-opening of Millthorpe Railway Station last week with the “romance of rail” returning to the picturesque village after 33 years.
More than 500 locals, guests, dignitaries, and rail enthusiasts celebrated completion of the new $1 million mini-platform that once again allows passenger trains to operate from the idyllic 133-year-old station.
Highlight of the festivities was undoubtedly the tuneful rendition of age-of-steam classics such as “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railway”, “Down by the Station”, and a reworking incorporating central west locales of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” all performed by the Millthorpe Public School choir.
Speakers included local identity John Mason who recounted the station’s history and its crucial part in the village’s development. He singled-out for thanks the 23-year-efforts of the “Millthorpe on Track” Committee that played such a central role in fund-raising, lobbying, and enacting the station’s restoration and revival.
President of the Millthorpe Village Committee Sam Yeates described the re-opening as: “A great day for Millthorpe” while Transport for NSW Engineer Shane Brady explained how the mini-platform was designed to both retain the station’s historical integrity while bridging the four-metre gap between the old station and the main western line.
Blayney Mayor Scott Ferguson thanked local member, Paul Toole for his efforts to obtain funding for the new platform with Mr Toole enthusing that: “This is an historic day of which you are all a part.”
Chief Executive of Sydney and NSW Trains, Howard Collins, who was head of the London Underground during the 2012 Olympics, said the reopening heralded return of the “Golden Age of Rail.”
The official party arrived at the event on the XPT with day-trippers also enjoying Lachlan Valley Railway excursions on an historic locomotive to Blayney and Orange over the first three days of the station’s re-opening.
The plaque unveiling signalled a rush for the old-style sausage sizzle with the whole event blessed by warm autumn weather which many locals considered a good auspice for the success of the reopening of the village service.