Level crossing equipment given ‘new lease of life’ at Puffing Billy

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A range of railway equipment from the former Clyde Road level crossing in Berwick has been given to the Puffing Billy steam railway, fast-tracking upgrade works at the popular tourist attraction in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges.

The donated equipment includes railway signalling parts, such as boom masts, from the former level crossing at Clyde Road, and will be used to upgrade the signalling at the Lakeside level crossing on the Belgrave to Gembrook line.

The crossing does not currently have any boom gates installed, so the installation of boom masts and motors will facilitate the attachment of new boom gates, effectively upgrading the crossing and improving safety.

Puffing Billy Signals and Telegraphs Manager, Andrew Wheatland, has been volunteering at the railway for 52 years and said the donated equipment will expedite upgrade works.

“We’re so grateful to receive this donation – as we rely on ticket sales to fund upgrades, this gift means we’re able to accelerate our upgrade works at Puffing Billy and make our railway safer.”

Passengers travelling through the Lakeside level crossing towards Gembrook, will be able to view the new equipment, once it is installed next year.

Level Crossing Removal Project Program Director Andrew Pepplinkhouse said seeing railway assets being repurposed was satisfying.

“It’s fantastic that railway assets used in metropolitan Melbourne can be given a new lease of life at this heritage railway, which brings joy to over 400,000 passengers a year.”

The full list of donated equipment from the Clyde Road level crossing includes pedestrian gates, signalling location cases, boom masts and motors, flashing lights and cross arms, and pedestrian lighting.

The Level Crossing Removal Project removed the dangerous and congested level crossing at Clyde Road, Berwick in February 2022 by building a road underpass beneath the rail line.

As part of the project, an upgraded bus interchange is being built at Berwick Station, as well as new walking and bike riding connections for the community.

The Puffing Billy railway was built in 1910 to serve the local communities that live in the Dandenong Ranges and is now the world’s largest volunteer-based heritage steam railway tourist attraction. Puffing Billy recently unveiled a new visitor’s centre at Lakeside Station, which opened in November 2021.

The tourist attraction relies on revenue from ticket sales to fund operations and is always on the lookout for new volunteers to join its 300-strong team.

Level Crossing Removal