The 'Geelong Flyer'

The 'Geelong Flyer' was the first officially named train to operate on the Victorian Railways. The first run of the train from Melbourne to Geelong operated on May 3, 1926.

Inception


The train was launched at a time of lower patronage due to economic strains, and two motor bus operators competing on the same route (one private, one railway).

On introduction, "The Flyer" departed platform 1 at Flinders Street of a morning on a day return basis, stopping at Spencer Street then running express at 70 miles per hour (115km/h) to Geelong. It was tabled for a 9am departure from Flinders Street, with a 4pm arrival back from Geelong.

However by 1927 patronage had grown, larger capacity carriages were required, and the early running times of 70 minutes were cut to an hour though the use of automatic staff exchange equipment between Newport South and North Geelong.

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Extension


The train became "The Flyer" with the extension of the train to the Western District from October 17, 1927, and saving one and half hours compared to the previous trains.

The train departed Spencer Street at 8.20am, arriving at Geelong at 9:23am, then Birregurra, Colac, and Camperdown, then stopping all stations to Port Fairy by 2.54pm. On the return the train left Camperdown at 2.20pm, stopping at Colac, Birregurra, then all stations to Geelong, then express to Melbourne.

The new timetable affected 33 conflicting suburban services in Melbourne. Running times from Melbourne to Geelong were extended to 63 minutes due to the larger number of carriages, but by 1938 times were reduced to 57 minutes on the down, and 55 minutes on the up.

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Locomotives


During the first 25 years of the train, the A2 class steam locomotives were the main motive power for the train. The loco on the first train was Stephenson-type A2 906. By World War II due to locomotive shortages and any available engine was used, with D3, K, N and C classes appearing. By 1946 the A2s were converted to oil firing.

In 1951 the newly delivered R class took over the train. It was not until dieselisation of the interstate and long distance main line trains was complete that diesels appeared regularly on the Flyer. By the 1960s the diesels had taken over, often with multiple locos attached to be transferred to other locations. When T class locos were attached the train was restricted to 60 miles per hour (96km/h).

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Rolling stock


Initial rolling stock used on the train was the 'short' AW and BW compartment carriages. 58 feet in length and 35 tons in weight, they were fitted with four wheel bogies and had clerestory roofs.

A few months later, the 'long' W carriages were introduced to increase passenger capacity on the train, being of the same weight, but 64 feet long and with elliptical roofs. This ended the uniform look of the train.

In October 1927, heavier 74 feet long six wheel bogie E stock was introduced on the train for passengers on the service beyond Geelong. Local travellers rode at the front of the train in W and PL carriages, which were detached at Geelong. Non corridor carriage stock also appeared in times of heavy patronage.

Post war air conditioned carriage begun to appear on the train. By 1960 the train was a mish mash of both red and blue carriages of various shapes and sizes, both wooden and steel.

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Schedules


This table details running times of the train over the years. Today with 160km/h running 45 minutes is the quickest time, albeit with heavier suburban traffic.

DownMay 1926Oct 1926Oct 1927Oct 1934March 193819451963
Depart Melbourne9.00am 9.00am 8.20am 8.20am 8.22am 8.25am 8.25am
Arrive Geelong10.10am 10.00am 9.23am 9.20am 9.17am 9.20am 9.20am
Running time70 minutes 60 minutes 63 minutes60 minutes55 minutes55 minutes55 minutes
Up
Depart Geelong4.00pm 4.05pm 5.00pm 5.00pm 5.08pm 5.08pm 5.12pm
Arrive Melbourne5.11pm 5.07pm 6.05pm 6.05pm 6.05pm 6.05pm 6.10pm
Running time71 minutes62 minutes65 minutes65 minutes57 minutes57 minutes58 minutes
(1)(1, 2)(3)(4)(5)
  1. Departing Flinders Street, express from Spencer Street to Geelong
  2. Automatic Staff Exchangers introduced
  3. Originating and departing from Spencer Street, Down train to Port Fairy, Up train from Camperdown.
  4. Up train originating at Geelong
  5. Up train schedule put back due to delays at Werribee waiting to cross the 5.10pm down express

In 1938 test runs were carried out to see if 50 minute Down and 52 minute Up services were possible. An 'improved' A2 class steam locomotive was used, with a trailing load of 237 tons. Schedules of 55 minutes on the Down and 57 minutes on the Up were later adopted.

DateA2 loco'Down' time'Up' time
13/19815353.5
17/193559 *54
20/193553.2552
24/193554.75 **54.25
26/193553.2551.5

* Loco steaming badly.

** Includes 2.5 minutes stopped at signal in the suburban area.

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Sources


ARHS tour notes - Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the inaugural run of the "Geelong Flyer" May 3, 1926

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