Victorian Railways Royal Train

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State Car 4 as preserved at the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre

The Victorian Railways Royal Train operated to transport members of the Royal Family on their numerous tours of Australia on the Victorian Railways network. The same carriages were also used for a number of vice-regal trains for the Governor-General of Australia and the Governor of Victoria. The last Royal Train ran in 1988.


Royal trains usually operated with special carriage stock set aside for the purpose. Most trains operated with double headed locomotives to reduce the chance of the train being stranded due to locomotive failure, with a third locomotive running in front of the train to ensure the track was clear. A special headboard with the royal coat of arms was usually affixed to the front of the leading locomotive.


State Car 5 in storage at the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre
Interior of a sleeping compartment, used on a Royal Train in 1927

In the history of the Victorian Railways there were five special carriages designated for royal train and other special services, designated State Car 1 through to State Car 5.

The carriages were painted in the standard royal blue with gold trim of the Victorian Railways, with the exception of the 1988 Royal Tour. Operated by VR successor V/Line this trip was operated by two freshly cleaned, partially repainted (below footplate) & polished locomotives in the standard orange and grey livery, with the carriages painted in a one off 'executive' livery of grey and white, with orange and green trim.[1]

  • State Car 1 entered service in 1890 as Enterprise. It was renamed in 1900 and was scrapped in August 1956.[2]
  • State Car 2 and State Car 3 both entered service in 1901 and were both rebuilt for other uses in 1919.[3][4]
  • State Car 4 was built in 1912 based on the then state of the art wooden E type carriage design. It featured an observation balcony at one end, Governor's and Lady's bedrooms (which could be separated by doors), dining room, kitchen, Gents and Ladies bathrooms (each with bath, shower and toilet), and accommodation for ladies in waiting and other support staff. A total of 9 sleeping berths were provided.[5] This carriage is owned by VicTrack Heritage and is allocated to the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre collection.
  • State Car 5 was based on the steel air conditioned S type carriage design in 1951. A royal insignia was painted on each side.[6] The carriage featured a kitchen, lounge / dining area, two main bedrooms with ensuite (featuring bathroom with bath, basin, shower and toilet), two sleeping / sitting compartments for attendants, and a third bathroom. In 1954 it was displayed at the Centenary Exhibition.[7] It was repainted into the grey livery in 1988 for the Royal tour of the year, and has since been allocated to the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre collection.[8]
  • Mitta Mitta was converted from BRS 228 for use as a support carriage for State Car 5 on Vice Regal trains in 1994, but was never used in the role.[9] It was fitted with sleeping berths, bathroom, kitchen, and a dining and lounge area.
  • Norman (former Spirit of Progress parlor car) was also used on Royal trains.


Locomotive AA 548 decorated for a Royal Train in 1901
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, then the Duke and Duchess of York, on the balcony of State Car 4 in 1927
  • June 1867: The first Royal train drawn by engine No50, took Prince Alfred Duke of Edinburgh to Ballarat, and then to Castlemaine and Bendigo.[10] Recorded times for the 45 miles between Melbourne and Geelong were 52 to 60 minutes. [Leo J. Harrigan. Victorian Railways to '62. Victorian Railways. 1962. p 269]
  • May 1901 - The first complete Royal train was assembled from special purpose vehicles for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary). The Royal train travelled to Healesville and other parts of Victoria, and finally to Port Melbourne, where they embarked for the sea voyage to Brisbane.[11]
  • May / June 1920: Prince of Wales (later briefly King Edward VIII) toured the state.[10]
  • 7 May 1927: The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), who were visiting Australia to open the new Parliament House in Canberra, travelled from Melbourne to Geelong with A2 976 and[12][13] to Seymour on 11 May with A2 948.[14]
  • 26–27 October 1934: Duke of Gloucester, (later Governor General of Australia 1945-1947) Bairnsdale to Melbourne[15] for Melbourne Centenary Celebrations.
  • 31 October 1934: Duke of Gloucester to Mildura.[16]
  • February / March 1952: Planned tour by then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, cancelled due to the death of King George VI. Was to be operated by steam locomotive R 704.[17]
  • Monday March 1, 1954 to Saturday March 6, 1954. – The Royal Train ran over a period of six days. The train ran in two separate “divisions”:- The first division conveyed H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and H.R.H. Prince Philip, Ladies in waiting and other V.I.P.s. It consisted of a combination of six VR blue and gold painted both steel and wooden carriages and was hauled by a diesel-electric multiple unit of Clyde-EMD (General Motors) export model “ML-2” locomotives “B 60” and “B 85” constructed in Granville, N.S.W. over 1952 and 1953.

To the best of available photograph resolution it appears that the make-up of the 1954 Royal Train consisted of at least:- a “CE” Guard’s/Brake Van; No. 5 steel State Car of 1951; No. 4 “E” series, wooden State Car of 1912; the all steel Avoca dining car of 1927 (along with her former sister “Hopkins”, the heaviest passenger cars ever on the Victorian railways); and various other unidentifiable wooden and steel cars from the photograph taken by Locomotive Driver, Mr. Kevin Whelan at Warburton on the final day of the 1954 Royal Train.

The second division consisted of Thomas Tait era (ex VR Chief Commissioner) VR “carriage red” painted [Tait’s chosen carriage paint colour, which followed the earlier VR “Victoria Red”] sleeping, dining and ancillary carriages conveying media and other necessary support staff and followed the “first division” of the Royal Train around Victoria.

The locomotives were crewed by: Commissioners’ Locomotive Driver, Mr. Frank Myers who had been the VR Commissioners’ Driver for in excess of twenty years and by fully qualified Locomotive Driver Mr. Kevin Whelan. Whelan had formerly been Myers’ “Locomotive Fireman” in the early 1950’s during the delivery of the “B” class locomotives. Myers asked Whelan back for the 1954 Royal Tour as he could not find a suitable Fireman for the role.

The itinerary of the train was:-

MONDAY MARCH 1:- Spencer Street Station to Crib Point Naval Base (at Westernport – where the Royal Train was “turned” on the “triangle” – a rare piece of track infrastructure on the Victorian Railways) and return to Spencer Street Station conveying the Royal couple in both directions.

TUESDAY MARCH 2:- The train did not operate. A “rest day”.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 3:- Royal Train(s) ran empty to Sale and returned to Spencer Street Station conveying the Royal couple ex Sale in Gippsland.

THURSDAY MARCH 4:- Royal Train(s) departed Spencer Street at 17.00 hours with the Royal couple for Goorambat at mileage 131.75 on the Yarrawonga/Oaklands branch line north of Benalla. Trains stabled at Goorambat overnight with Royal couple.

FRIDAY MARCH 5:- Royal Train(s) return to Benalla and detrained the Royal couple who travelled to Tatura by road-motor convoy. Royal train(s) ran empty to Seymour and reversed. Ran empty northwards via Mangalore, thence the main Goulburn Valley rail line and diverged at junction station of Toolamba for the Echuca branch to Tatura at mileage 110 miles on the 1880/1887 completed Echuca line. At Tatura entrained the Royal couple again. The Royal train(s) thence ran to Echuca and reversed; thence southbound to Bendigo via the original 1864 completed Echuca line via Rochester. After Bendigo, on the same day, the train continued south to Castlemaine, thence west via cross country branch line through Newstead to Maryborough. The train then ran south to Waubra Junction short of Ballarat, reversed and ran the short journey down the Waubra branch to the original 1881 terminus (by then a short spur branch) to the Ballarat Racecourse Platform at approximately 81 miles (locally known as “Dowling’s Forest Racecourse”). Royal Train(s) stabled overnight with the Royal Couple.

SATURDAY MARCH 6:- Depart Ballarat Racecourse and ran into Ballarat. The Royal Train(s) then ran via Geelong, thence to Melbourne, pausing at the railway station platform at “Aircraft” at the former Laverton R.A.A.F. Base before continuing via and though Melbourne to Warburton (Warburton “proper” NOT “La-La” Siding at the very end of the line), where H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II of the Empire and of Australia and her husband, H.R.H. Prince Philip detrained the Royal Train for the very last time. The two divisions of the Royal Train(s) then returned empty to Spencer Street Station in Melbourne and stabled.[18]

  • 2 March 1958: Queen Mother, Ballarat to Melbourne 2 S class[10][19]
  • 1959: Princess Alexandra.[10]
  • 18 October 1965: Governor-General Lord Casey from home station of Berwick on his first official visit to Melbourne. State Car No 5 hauled by a diesel electric engine.[10]
  • 27 October 1975: Princess Margaret to Moe and return, locomotive L1150.[20]
  • 15 April 1983: Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles from Spencer Street to Ballarat (the train returned empty) S. 4500/83. Locomotives S 315 (crew: DR Bill Steedman and FM Danny Hallinan) and S 300 (leading) & S 315 (trailing, hostlers end leading) headed the 3 car train of an AZ car (unknown No), Norman (Saloon trailing) and No 4 State (observation deck trailing) = 3/157tonne, S 311 was the pilot locomotive (DR Kevin Whelan FM Vic Greensill) and ran between 31 and 33 minutes ahead of the Royal Train. Relief locomotive at Bacchus Marsh X 31 (DR Ian R. Barkla FM Trevor Luxford)[21][22]
  • 28 April 1988: Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh from Spencer Street to South Geelong and return from Geelong to SSS S. 5000/88. Pilot locomotive (DR Brian Ward FM Robert Hosie) Pilot Engine N469 ran 10 minutes ahead of Royal Train. Royal Train Crew (DR Kevin Whelan FM Sean Kelly) Locomotives N471 & N474 Load: ACZ 252 van trailing, No 5 State Car kitchen end trailing, Norman round saloon end trailing. S.5000/88


  1. ^ "Photo: Royal Tour 1988". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  2. ^ "Special Stock - 'Enterprise' / State Car 1". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  3. ^ "Special Stock - 'State Car 2'". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  4. ^ "Special Stock - 'State Car 3'". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  5. ^ Chris Banger and Peter Medlin (August 1996). "Ninety years of the E cars". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). p. 236.
  6. ^ "Special Stock - "State Car 5"". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  7. ^ "Centenary Exhibition" Railway Gazette 17 September 1954 page 316
  8. ^ ""State Car No.5" - Victorian Railways". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  9. ^ "Commissioners' Train". Railpage Australia Forums. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d e "History Victoria: State occasions" (PDF). Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  11. ^ "ARHS Railway Museum: History 1900 - 1950". Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  12. ^ "A2 steam locomotive hauling royal train, Spencer Street Station 1927". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  13. ^ "A2.976 & 948 on Royal Train at Geelong. picture by". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  14. ^ "The Royal Train at Seymour. picture by". Retrieved 5 July 2008.
  15. ^ "D3s for a King's Son" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin October 1970 pp221-227
  16. ^ Bruce McLean. "History Victoria: The Mildura Story" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  17. ^ ":: 707 Operations Inc - Steam Trains of Australia ::". Archived from the original on 21 May 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  18. ^ Interview with retired Locomotive Driver from 1954 Royal Train, Mr. Kevin Whelan held on 25-08-2018
  19. ^ "Queens Mother's Railway Journey" Railway Gazette 14 March 1958 page 300
  20. ^ "VR History". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  21. ^ "Ballarat: Royal Train". Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  22. ^ "Rowsley: Royal Train". Retrieved 8 June 2008.

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