Victorian Railways dining cars
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This article is intended as a catalogue of dining and refreshment services and carriages used by the Victorian Railways and successors.
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As the E type carriages were being constructed, three cars were outfitted as dining cars for use on trains to Adelaide and Sydney. Goulburn, Campaspe and Wimmera entered service in 1908 and were each fitted with an ice chest, a pintsch-gas stove, a sink and a workbench, and was capped with an open buffet at either end. This was centrally situated between two saloons, one seating 24 first class and the other 18 second class passengers. A corridor on one side of the carriages allowed passengers and staff to walk between the two ends of the car.
Two further cars were built in 1927; Avoca and Hopkins. These two had a similar underframe to the standard E type carriage, but a new body design using steel plates rivetted to a frame. The cars externally looked very similar to the E type Sleepers, Werribee, Indi and Ovens. However, the pair were so heavy, at over 70 tons, that they had to be placed on Tait Motor-car bogies to support the tremendous weight. Aside from the three Pullman cars, these were the heaviest items (by axle load) of rollingstock to run in Victoria, possibly until modern times. Couplings were an oddity; the two were fitted with standard screw couplings when new, but by late 1935 they were both converted to autocouplers. A few months later they went to transition couplings, then back to proper autocouplers in 1936. Inside, the cars were petitioned at about the half-way mark, with 48 seats arranged in a 2+2 with 12 tables saloon configuration. Beyond this was a counter/buffet area facing the dining area; a corridor then ran along one side of the kitchen area, with the rest of the car devoted to a kitchen and food preparation area.
Goulburn was altered in 1932 for use as standby Commissioners car for "Reso" and "Holiday Train" tours, with the fitting of 8 berths and two showers in old first dining saloon and an office and dining room in 2nd class area. In 1938 a third shower was fitted, but during WWII the car was stored at Ballarat. In 1953 it was overhauled for the Royal Train and painted blue and gold, and in 1988 it received a grey scheme as a support vehicle for another royal tour, and it is currently under the control of Steamrail.
Campaspe had a similar history until 1927 when it was replaced with a steel dining car; at that time it was transferred to Albury Express as a buffet car, then a hospital car during WWII. It was stored at North Melbourne until 1952 when it was converted to sleep 16 men in longitudinal upper and lower bunks with a centre aisle. It ended up on Breakdown train at Dynon in the 1980s. Eventually it was allocated to Plan R (Seven-O-Seven Operations) Victoria and later transferred to the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre, where it is currently awaiting restoration to operational condition.
Wimmera ran as a Dining car until 1938, when it was converted to the Medical and Vision Test Car. It was withdrawn from service in 1981, but re-entered service in August 1988 painted blue and yellow on Commonwealth Bogies with the name "Wimmera" on side of car. It is currently at the Newport railway museum.
Avoca was converted to airconditioning in early 1936, as the second carriage on the VR network to have this modification following 36AE. In 1937 it was used as the standby for the Spirit of Progress, in case Murray was not available at the time. The cars quickly became known as Iron Tanks by most rail workers, or nicknamed "Hell" by crew members who had to work in the kitchen section with its huge wooden fuel stove, which was not airconditioned. Crew members could regularly be seen gasping for fresh air at open windows.
The car was painted into blue/gold in December 1953 for the royal train. The old briquette stove was replaced in April 1969 with a Porta-gas model. Roller bearings were added in the late 1960s, and the bogies were completely replaced in 1973 with a then-modern fabricated design, reclaimed from Spirit of Progress carriages (possibly from 7AS, destroyed in 1972). These were suitably modified to support the tremendous weight of Avoca which tended to sway about on rough track. In May 1984, as part of the New Deal rollingstock renumbering, Avoca was given a new identity of RS235, the first time it had been considered as part of the S fleet. Around this time the car was repainted into a "heritage" livery, reminiscent of the dark maroon with yellow lining applied to the first E cars when they were built. Today, Avoca is owned by Victrack and under the care of the Seymour Rail Heritage Centre, and it has since been repainted into the VR blue and gold scheme.
Hopkins had a similar history to Avoca except that it was not airconditioned, up to February 1950. It was then sold to the Commonwealth railways, reclassed as DB75, fitted with airconditioning and converted to standard gauge, entering service in November of that year. On 19 February 1952 it had been repainted into the Commonwealth Railways colour scheme and by December 1954 new bogies of the BK type were fitted. It was used mainly on the Trans-Australian Express, and later on the Ghan. It was written off on 29 March 1968, possibly as surplus to requirements.
Restaurant car - Murray
Long Buffet cars - Wimmera and Mitta Mitta
Short Buffet cars - Tanjil and Moorabool
Wimmera, Mitta Mitta and Tanjil were renumbered to VRS 1, 2 and 3 and converted to standard gauge when the Spirit of Progress service was transferred in 1962; around this time Tanjil's buffet section was extended to match the full-length accommodation of the other two. Moorabool was kept in its short-buffet form, and used on services to Gippsland.
With the 1981 New Deal recoding, VRS 1, 2 and 3 became 231, 232 and 233 respectively. Moorabool became RS 234, and was joined by Avoca and Murray taking positions RS 235 and RS 236.
MBS, MRS and VFR cars
In 1962, S-type carriages 10, 11, 14 and 9BS were converted to VFS internal configuration for standard gauge service. Two years later, VFS cars 3 and 4 were altered further with two compartments removed and replaced with a short buffet section; these cars were recoded VFR.
To further supplement the standard gauge services, cars 2 and 3BS were converted to MBS configuration in 1966, with AS 9 (recently restored from a temporary stint as ABS 3) following in 1968. Respectively, the cars became MBS 1, 2 and 3, and they each had lettering onm the sides for "Mini Buffet". Each car retained five eight-person compartments, while a further two compartments had their walls removed and seating altered to a saloon arrangement with tables between the seats, in a 2+1 fashion. The eighth compartment and the toilet at that end of the carriage was replaced with a small kitchen and cash register area.
From 1977 even this was found to be insufficient, so a further two cars, 4BS and 1BS, were converted to MRS internals. These were similar to the MBS design, but with a further two compartments converted to the lounge-style. The cars were used exclusively on the Vinelander service to Mildura.
In 1983 MBS 1 was converted back to BS configuration, firstly to BS 13 as its original number had since been taken, then as BS 213 when the New Deal struck. MBS 2 and 3 retained their modifications, with MBS 2 becoming BRS 227, and MBS 3 becoming BRS 229 after spending a few months as BRS 9.
BRS x10 VRS x3 RS x3 Each 3-carriage N set includes in its consist one BRN carriage. These have saloon seating for much of their length, with a few metres at one end of the car holding a short buffet section.
- Peter J Vincent: MRS cars
- Peter J Vincent: MBS cars
- Peter J Vincent: VFR cars