On Tuesday 8th March, residents may have spotted a Red Rattler travelling along the Belgrave line as it passed through Ferntree Gully. Also known as the Tait, the train has recently been restored by Steamrail Victoria volunteers.
As part of its official relaunch, the Rattler departed Flinders Street at 11:24am and carried passengers to Belgrave, where an official ceremony – led by Federal Member for La Trobe, Jason Wood MP – took place.
The train then made a short trip to Upper Ferntree Gully Station, before returning to Belgrave for its journey back to Flinders Street, then Essendon.
Many will remember catching the Red Rattlers to work, school and the football or cricket on weekends. They ran on our rail network up until 1984, when they were then superseded.
The Rattlers were the first electric trains to operate in Australia. Originally they were steam hauled – but in 1919, Melbourne became the first Australian city to introduce electric trains, with an electric Tait running on the Sandringham line to Essendon.
In 2017, Steamrail Victoria received a government grant of $1 million to upgrade and return the Rattler to service. Now that it has been restored, there are plans to run to Belgrave again from May, so tourists can connect with Puffing Billy to travel through the Dandenongs.
There will also be shuttle trips from Berwick to Dandenong and Pakenham, and a special trip planned for July, where the Rattler will run parallel with a steam hauled train through the inner eastern suburbs. All aboard, and stay tuned!