The Lilydale-Melbourne railway was extended from Lilydale to Yarra Flats (now known as Yarra Glen) on the May 15, 1888 with intermediate stations at Coldstream and Yering.
Part of the structure included a long timber viaduct with 502 openings near Yarra Glen, spanning the Yarra River and the adjacent flood plains. The extension of the line from Yarra Glen to Healesville required a 1 in 40 (2.5%) climb into a 154.4 metre tunnel with a corresponding descent at nearly the same grade. The Healesville Station opened on March 1, 1889 with an intermediate station at Tarrawarra.
Traffic on the line included timber, livestock, milk and dairy products. Early timetables included regular goods services specifically for transporting milk.
The last regular steam passenger service was hauled in August, 1964. From this time until closure of the line in 1980 passenger services were run using Rail Motors. After December 9, 1980 no services operated beyond Coldstream and the line was officially closed to all traffic on March 10, 1983. It was partially reopened as far as Yarra Glen for tourism purposes in 1986 following major bridgework.
However, these services ceased by 1990.
The Society is currently running a Walker Railmotor RM22 from Healesville to the Tarrawarra Winery, crossing the Watts River, under the Donovan's Road overbridge and through the historic tunnel, a distance of 4.5 km each way.
The train trip takes about 45 mins in total, and a ticket costs $13 ($10 concession), $8 children. At the time of my visit, it operates on Sundays, Public Holidays,and School Holidays, leaving on the hour from Healesville between 10 am and 4 pm.
On July 17, 2010 the official launch of the Walker Railmotor service occurred with the first passenger service to leave Healesville Railway Station in over 30 years.
Future goals include reconstruction to Yarra Glen and Lilydale. During major bushfires in February 2009, the line suffered the loss of several large and small trestle bridges, both on the operating and non operating section.
Yarra Valley Railway is working towards the introduction of a full Tourist Train service. The development will incorporate
. Restoration of the line between Healesville and Yarra Glen.
.Operate trains between Healesville and Yarra Glen.
.Restoration of trains and commence train operations including a restaurant carriage to Yarra Glen.
. Restoration of the remainder of the line from Yarra Glen to Lilydale.
.Steam Train tours through the Yarra Valley commencing at Lilydale
The receipt of the Bushfire Recovery Grant combined with the donation of materials from the Department of Transport and Metro,has enabled the YVR to accelerate its reconstruction plans.
The immediate goal of the YVR is to commence passenger trolley services from Yarra Glen Station to Train Trak Winery, approximately 3 km, with further plans to then extend the trolley service to Tarrawarra, approximately 4.5 km from Yarra Glen.
The restoration of this section of mainline will be completed to train standard in preparation of the full restoration of the Healesville to Yarra Glen rail corridor.
Line side clearing is well progressed within the section between Yarra Glen and Train Trak Winery. Track restoration works have commenced at the Yarra Glen end of the rail corridor.
THE RECENT SUPPORT RECEIVED BY THE YARRA VALLEY RAILWAY HAS ENABLED THE ACCELERATION OF THE RESTORATION EFFORTS. THE YVR IS NOW WORKING TOWARDS THE COMMENCEMENT OF PASSENGER TROLLEY SERVICES FROM YARRA GLEN. THIS COMBINED WITH THE PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES OFFERED FROM HEALESVILLE STATION WILL CONTINUE TO GROW THE YARRA VALLEY RAILWAY AS A MAJOR ATTRACTION OF THE YARRA VALLEY.
Full details about the Society, with a a marvellous collection of historical and contemporary photos, are available at its website: