Railway Construction Act 1884
The Victorian Government's Act No. 821, Railway Construction Act 1884, authorised the construction of 59 new railway lines, plus additional infrastructure, in Australia. Created by the Minister for Railways, Thomas Bent, and passed on 12 December 1884, it became notorious for the excessive number of inner-city railways it created, and received the nickname "the Octopus Act". It was accompanied by the Railway Loan Act 47 Victoria No. 760 which authorised a loan of £600,000 for construction.
The act, "to authorize the Construction of certain Lines of Railway by the State and for other purposes", listed 51 "country lines", 8 "suburban lines", 4 short connections and bridges, and 2 "railway[s] or sidings", specifying 65 pieces of new infrastructure in total. It also provided for additional platforms, buildings, sidings, road approaches, drains, bridge widenings and modifications to existing infrastructure as necessary. It allowed for an average expenditure of £3,960 per mile for the country lines and £14,294 per mile for the suburban lines.
The depression of the 1890s soon rendered many of these lines unviable.
- Avoca and Ararat Railway
- Bacchus Marsh and Gordons Railway
- Bacchus Marsh Junction and New-port Railway
- Ballarat East and Buninyong Railway
- Ballarat Cattle Yards Branch Railway
- Ballarat Eacecourse and Springs Railway
- Birregurra and Cape Otway Forest Railway
- Camperdown and Curdie's River Railway
- Camperdown to Terand and Warrnambool Railway
- Coburg and Somerton Railway
- Creswick and Daylesford Railway
- Dandenong and Leongatha Railway
- Dimboola and South Australian Border Railway
- Fitzroy and Whittlesea Railway
- Frankston and Crib Point Railway 15A: Mornington Railway
- Frankston Cemetery Railway
- Hamilton and Coleraine Railway
- Heyfield and Bairns-dale Railway,
- Horsham and Natimuk Railway
- Inglewood and Dunolly Railway 20A. Kerang to Swan Hill
- Koroit and Belfast Railway
- Koroit Railway via Penshurst 22A. Hamilton and Penshurst Railway
- Koroit and Warrnambool Railway
- Kyneton and Redesdale Railway
- Lancefield and Kilmore Railway
- Leongatha and Port Albert Railway
- Lilydale and Healesville Railway (via Yarra Flats)
- Lubeck and Rupanyup Railway
- Maffra and Briagolong Railway
- Maldon and Laanecoorie Railway
- Moe and Narracan Railway
- Mount Moriac and Forest Railway
- Murchison and Rushworth Rail-way
- Murtoa and Warracknabeal Railway
- Myrtleford and Bright Railway
- Numurkah and Cobram Railway
- Numurkah and Nathalia Railway
- Ondit and Beeac Railway
- Ringwood and Ferntree Gully Railway
- Sale and Stratford Railway
- Scarsdale and Lintons Railway
- Shepparton and Dookie Railway
- St. James and Yarrawonga RAilway
- Tatura and Echuca Railway
- Terang and Mortlake Railway
- Wandong Heathcote and Sandhurst Railway
- Warragul and Neerim Railway
- Wedderburn Road and Wedderburn Railway
- Wodonga and Tallangatta Railway
- Yackandandah and Beechworth Railway
- Yea and Mansfield Railway; Alexandra Branch Railway
Schedule numbers are as given.
- 52. Alphington and Heidelberg Railway
- 53. Brighton and Picnic Point Railway
- 54. Burnley to Junction with Outer Circle Railway
- 55. Fitzroy Branch Railway
- 56. Hawthorn and Kew Railway
- 57. Lal Lal Racecourse Railway
- 58. Outer Circle Railway, Oakleigh, via Camberwell to Richmond and Alphington Railway
- 59. Royal Park and Clifton Hill Railway
Schedule numbers are as given, with authorised expenditure from Section 7 where given.
- 60. Murray-bridge (temporary) (£1,750)
- 61. Portland Pier
- 62. Murray-bridge (£25,000)
- 63. Flinders-street Viaduct (£73,000)
- 64. Windsor Siding
- 65. Ballarat siding
Section 4 provided for "Additional sidings etc. on existing lines".
Section 7 also authorised expenditure on the following works:
- 66. Duplication Hawthorn and Camberwell Line (£8,500)
- 67. Railway works (£800,000)
- Rolling-stock (£178,000) and permanent-way (£415,000)
Beneficiaries of the act included construction engineers such as Andrew O'Keefe, and politicians such as Thomas Bent himself, who reaped the rewards of commissioning construction in their own electorates.
Construction of the lines was complete by April 1890.
By 1892, outrage at the excesses of this construction boom, including a number of "white elephants", led to the sacking of Speight, Richard Ford and A J Agg, the other commissioners. Then, the Railways Act of 1892, attempted to reverse some of the damage.
- "Victorian Parliamentary Chronology: 150 Years of Parliament in Victoria - the 1880s". Archived from the original on 9 July 2009.
- "The Railway Construction Act 1884". Austlii. 12 December 1884.
- Some sources give this figure as 66.
- "Railway Loan Act No. 760 and the Railway Construction Act 1884: Estimate of expenditure which the Railways Commissioners propose to incur during the ensuing twelve months under Loan Act No. 760 and the Railway Construction Act 1884". Government printer.