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Rail Motors

Rail motors consisting of a single self-contained passenger carriage and engine unit were an obvious idea for reducing the cost of operating passenger service on more lightly patronised lines. The first vehicles of this type used on the Victorian Railways were two Rowan steam cars introduced in the 1880s. In 1911, two petrol-powered McKeen rail motors were imported from America. With distinctive streamlined bodies and round porthole style windows they cut a striking appearance, but were under-powered and not technically successful.

Shortly after the First World War, the Newport Workshops began building a series of petrol rail motors based on AEC truck chassis and engine units. Despite primitive open-sided passenger compartments and wooden bench seating they proved a success, with some 20 units in service on country branchlines by the mid 1920s. From 1925, Newport also built a number of improved double-ended rail motors with dual driver controls that avoided the need to turn vehicles for return journeys. They were the first diesel-powered vehicles used on the Victorian railways.

Between 1948 and 1950, new improved English-built Walker diesel rail motors were introduced with three standard sized units having seating for 40, 45 and 94 passengers respectively. Painted in the distinctive 'blue and gold' VR livery, they remained the mainstay of passenger services on many country lines until the late 1970s.

 Motor trainview larger image Motor train, Moira Station, 1925.

 Motor railview larger image Motor rail travelling past Grand Hotel, Mildura, circa 1930.

 Motor railview larger image Men standing beside the motor rail, Sea Lake Station, circa 1920.

 Motor railview larger image Staff posing with a motor rail, Gippsland, circa 1910.

 Petrol electric rail carview larger image Railcar constructed at Newport workshop.

 Two rail motorsview larger image Deniliquin Rail Motors passing, Barnes, circa 1925.

 Two men on front of rail motorview larger image Construction of line, Yarrawonga, circa 1930.

 Diesel Train, Wycheproofview larger image Diesel train with Victorian Railways logo on its front, Wycheproof, post-1935.

 Tram at Koondrookview larger image Truck convert to travel on rails, Koondrook, post-1920.

Rowan car, Walhallaview larger image Rowan car No.2.

Rowan carview larger image Rowan Car No.1, circa 1893.

Workers assembling a McKeen carriageview larger image Assembling McKeen carriage.

Beetle rail motor, Campbellfieldview larger image Beetle Rail motor, Campbellfield.

Brill rail motor, Echuca Stationview larger image Brill Rail Motor, Echuca Station.

© Museum Victoria Australia