A FORMER Southern Aurora carriage will feature in a memorial garden marking the deadly 1969 crash involving the passenger rail service.
The stainless steel car, which has been stripped bare internally, will be installed at a park being formed at Violet Town in time for next year’s 50th anniversary of the collision between the Southern Aurora and a goods train.
Southern Aurora Memorial Committee member Bruce Cumming said the V/Line board had agreed to donate the old carriage which has been sitting at the Newport railway yards in Melbourne in recent times.
He said V/Line had reduced the twinette sleeper to a shell in anticipation of using it as a power van. but it did not meet engineering requirements.
October 4 has been set down for the move to Violet Town, which is expected to occur in the dark of night and involve escort vehicles at the front and rear of the prime mover hauling the 23-metre long carriage.
“It is a remarkable looking silver sleek carriage and ultimately it will be great to have as a museum space or to have a cafe in it or we could have it as a visitor information centre,” Mr Cumming said.
But in the short term the committee will be aiming to fit windows and bogies and have the carriage sealed for commemorations marking the February 7, 1969, crash.
“It needs a tidy up, it looks terrible with all the grime on it from sitting outside for 25 years and there’s a little bit of graffiti on it that needs to be cleaned up,” Mr Cumming said.
The carriage, officially NAM 2337, was in use at the time of the 1969 crash, but was not part of the set involved in the crash which claimed nine lives including those of two men from Wodonga.
After the Southern Aurora service was discontinued the carriage was part of a train travelling between Sydney and Brisbane for World Expo 88 before being in private operator’s hand prior to its purchase by V/Line.
The carriage deal follows the committee recently entering into a five-year lease arrangement with VicTrack for land which will host the memorial garden.
Mr Cumming said surveying and drainage work for the site had begun and the committee was ready to transform the area into a place of reflection.
There are plans to have words, such as love, reflecting the emergency response, adorn pathways at the garden and the hometowns of those involved in the tragedy feature in signage.
Strathbogie Shire has provided $50,000 for landscaping works and the committee is applying for grants from the Victorian government.
The gardens will be officially unveiled as part of commemorations running from February 7 to 10 next year.
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