The remains of the overhead conveyor that replaced the railway

APC Narrow Gauge Railway

In 1926 the Australian Portland Cement Company opened a private 3'6" railway, replacing an older aerial ropeway to their quarry. There were two routes from the cement plant: the top line that went to the old quarry and works depot, and a longer branch that descended via a tunnel to the open cut quarry.

The grade on the line to the old quarry was 1 in 25, with the line to the new open cut quarry being on a 1 in 37 grade and running through a 4,376 ft (1.3 kilometre) long tunnel, the longest in Victoria. The total length of the main line from quarry to the works was 5.6km.

Old Quarry

The initial route of the railway was from the north side of Hyland Street, north to the Moorabool River which was crossed on a wooden trestle bridge, then north east to the quarry itself. The grade out of the river valley was up to 1 in 20. The railway lines in the first quarry were movable, with limestone was loaded directly into the 10 cubic yard (20 tonne) railway wagons by steam shovels.

The smaller Hudswell Clarke locomotives shunted the wagons to a limestone crusher on the quarry floor, where the limestone was then taken by the Vulcan locos to the works. Haulage ropes were utilised to pull the wagons at the unloading facility, with side unloading wagons being tipped by a hoist.


New Quarry

When the work commenced on the new quarry in the late 1920s, an extension of the old lime was made for the dumping of overburden, running anticlockwise around the new quarry. The tunnel into the quarry was also constructed, branching off the main line near the Moorabool River trestle bridge. The former top line was later truncated, serving coal and water storage, and a rail and sleeper depot.

Two balloon loops were also provided at the cement works for the unloading of limestone into the crushers. The crushers could handle 2 rakes of 15 wagons at a time, and a rope system used to pull wagons along without locomotive assistance.

The wagons were initially loaded directly from the steam shovels, with track layers used to shift the lines closer to the working face. The four Hudswell Clark engines were used to shunt wagons on the quarry floor, with the Vulcans taking them to the works. In 1937/8 the two Beyer Peacock Garratt engines were purchased for use on the main line, with the smaller engines used for shunting and overburden duties.

To copy with smoke accumulation problems in the tunnel, locomotives exiting the quarry with loaded wagons travelled in reverse with the cabin end leading, while on the return trip the locomotive led normall, being able to coast downgrade. There were four ventilation shafts from the tunnel to ground level. In 1948 the centre shaft was fitted with a reversible exhaust fan to clear the smoke from the large Australian Standard Garratt, blowing air as the loco approached uphill, and sucking it out after it passed.

In 1945 the Australian Standard Garratt was bought, and one of the Beyer Peacock Garratts transferred to shunting at the crusher circles. In 1946 two Perry side tank engines were also bought for shunting at the quarry.

In the 1950s this was altered, with the railway line lowered into a cutting in the quarry floor, and AEC Matador rear tipping trucks of 18 cubic yard (14 cubic metre) capacity used to move the stone from the shovels to the wagons. The D1 diesel was acquired in 1957 and took over haulage on the main line, with Vulcan loco no 4 shunting wagons on the quarry floor. There was a 26 minute turn round time for the diesel. A Beyer Garratt loco was used to shunt wagons at the Limestone crushers at the works.


APC Locomotives

Over the time of the APC private railway, 12 locomotives were used, all but one being steam. Notable locomotives was the last remaining Australian Standard Garratt and the narrow gauge Clyde-GM G-8 numbered D1.

  • Numbers 1 and 2: 2-6-0/0-6-2 Beyer Peacock Garratt acquired new in 1936/38. Weighing 71.25 tons, they were initially used on the main quarry line until replaced by the diesel, later being used as shunters.
  • Number 3: 4-8-2/2-8-4 Australian Standard Garratt built in 1945, acquired ex Commonwealth Land Transport Board. It was little used after 1962 due to it's 119 ton weight causing track damage. It is now on display at the Railway Museum at North Williamstown.
  • Number 4 and 5: 0-6-0T Vulcan tank engine built in 1916, acquired by APC in 1926 from Henderson Naval base WA. Weight 30 tons, they were used as quarry shunters. No. 4 went to the Bellarine Peninsular Railway, No. 5 statically preserved at a Ringwood park until moved to Ballarat east loco depot.
  • Numbers 6 - 9: 0-4-2T Hudwell Clarke built in 1903-1907 and acquired in 1925 from the Wallaroo and Moonta Mining and Smelting Co SA. They weighted 14 tons, and were used on overburden trains. Numbers 7 - 9 were scrapped in 1964. No. 6 was used on workmen and plant trains in later years, and was donated to the BPR upon closure of the line.
  • Numbers 10 and 11: 0-4-0T Perry in built 1926 and acquired in 1946 from the State Electrical Commission, Yallourn; but they were originally used for construction of the Hume Weir. Weighing 14 tons, No. 10 was scrapped 1964.
  • D1: Bo-Bo Clyde-GM G8 built in 1956 and bought new by APC. Weighing 67 tons it was used on the main quarry run. The same model as the Victorian Railway's T class diesels. It was specially equipped with Dynamic Braking for the steep grades.

(from an article by John. L. Buckland)

By the mid 1960s there was 1 diesel and 6 steam locomotives used on the line. Upon closure D1 was sold to the Victorian Railways, regauged to 5'3" and renumbered T413. This locomotive has since been restored and is preserved but still operational today.The six remaining steam locomotives were all donated to preservation groups.



The original wagons used on the line were of 16 tonne capacity with wooden bodies on 4 wheel chassis. They were later replaced by 18 tonne capacity steel bodied wagons. Both types were side unloading for delivery into the limestone crusher at the works.



The locomotives were capable of the following loads on the line:

  • 1931 Vulcan: 3 wagons though the tunnel, then 6 to the works, once per hour for 100 tph (tonnes per hour)
  • 1936 Beyer Peacock: 6 wagons though the tunnel and direct to the works, round trip of 30 minutes for a total of 200 tph
  • 1946 Australian Standard Garratt: 9 wagons with round trip of 30 minutes for a total of 300 tph
  • 1947 Australian Standard Garratt: with two Garratts and automatic signalling, a total of 480 tph
  • 1957 Diesel Electric: 15 wagons with round trip of 26 minutes for a total of 550 tph or 4700 tonnes per day



A automatic signalling system was fitted to the line by McKenzie and Holland in 1947. The system was out of use by 1965, but the signals were still in place.

Based upon diagram from ARHS 'Excursion to Fyansford - April 20th 1965' tour notes, itself based upon the APC's 1948 "Traffic Code" from the John Buckland collection.

Safeworking Diagram

The main line between the works and the quarry was divided into two sections by a crossing loop. The points at each end were set up for arriving trains to take the left hand side track in the loop, witch exiting trains able to trail though the points so no manual operation was required.

Nine colour light signals were provided, the departure signals were three aspect, while intermediate signals were two aspect only. All signals defaulted to a green aspect. The line was fully track circuited, and all signals were automatically operated. No level control was provided, so no signalman was required. Point indicators were also provided: green for the left track, and purple for the right track. The signal lights were fitted with protective shields operated by rods from the ground. The engine crew would open them on Monday mornings, and close them Friday afternoon.

Each signal was controlled by the two track blocks ahead - a red indication is either was occupied, or a green if both were clear - for example, S1 would be red if a train was in T1 or T2; S2 would be red if T2 or T3 was occupied. The departure signals with the additional yellow aspect were controlled by the third block in advance as well - for example S1 would show yellow if T1 and T2 were clear, but T3 was occupied. The system was not direction sensitive - S1 would show yellow no matter if the train was approaching or departing block T3. As such, yellow was not a conventional 'caution' indication , but for information purposes only. The purpose of the intermediate signals was not to space following trains, but to keep opposing trains apart if they passed signals T1 and T4 at the same time.

The points to the surface line (the branch after the bridge) were motor operated, and controlled by push buttons PB1 and PB2. A train was required to pass signals S5 or S9 at green, and stop in section T4. The button was pressed, the points would operate for the branch, and then a white lamp above the button would indicate the points were set. The train would then proceed, and once section T4 was clear the points would restore to the normal position.

In the event of a signal failure on the Works to Loop section of the line, a train was allowed to proceed with extreme caution after waiting five minutes. On the Quarry sections trains were only permitted past on instructions of a responsible officer (the Quarry Foreman).



The private railway closed in 1966, and being replaced by a crushing plant on the quarry floor and an aerial beltway, which remained in use until the closure of the works.


Track diagrams

The track layout in 1965:

Diagram from ARHS 'Excursion to Fyansford - April 20th 1965' tour notes. Drawn by R. Christopher and J. Bogle.

Track Diagram in 1965

Diagram showing all lifted and unused track:

Diagram from 'The Fyansford Cement Line' by John McNeill (Light Railways, April 1993)

Track Diagram with all lifted and unused track



  • VR General Appendix 1953
  • Fyansford railway line to be salvaged and the corridor cleaned (4 March 2011)
  • History of the Australian Portland Cement private railway from the ARHS 'Excursion to Fyansford - April 20th 1965' tour notes.
  • Additional details are from 'The Fyansford Cement Line' by John McNeill (Light Railways, April 1993)
  • Details of the cement works are from 'A Journey to Destiny - 100 Years of Cement Manufacturing at Fyansford by Australian Cement Limited' (1990) by the same author.