Victorian Railways Timeline


This is a simple timeline of interesting events that occurred involving Victorian rail history. There is a comparison with events then taking place in the rest of the world at the time.





  • Hobson's Bay railway opens
  • Allies land at Crimea, Sevastapol siege
  • Boers start revolt with British


  • Victorian Government runs first train
  • Oregon becomes 33rd state
  • Work starts on Suez canal


  • Brown coal found in the Latrobe Valley
  • Prussia defeats Austria
  • Clipper ship race China-England


  • 1869 Land Act starts 1870s South Gippsland land rush
  • 3rd Maori rebellion suppressed in New Zealand


  • Coal found at Wonthaggi
  • Victorian Parliament passes 'Education Act': compulsory school, free tuition
  • Overland telegraph Adelaide to Darwin links Australia to trans-oceanic cable network


  • VR runs American bogie car
  • British 'Factory Act' limits weekly work hours to 56.5
  • Rickshaw introduced in China


  • Melbourne newspapers take one day to reach Sale; four days to reach Foster
  • Five hours by stagecoach: Tooradin to Melbourne
  • Thomas Edison trials 'phonograph'
  • Samurai rebellion crushed in Japan
  • Edward Muybridge pioneers pictures of motion


  • Victorian Government acquires private railways
  • Salvation Army founded


  • VR integrates private owner rolling stock; new 'Registers' started
  • Strike in the U.S. for 8 hour day
  • Nigeria founded by Royal Niger Company
  • Canadian Pacific railway finished
  • Statue of Liberty dedicated


  • 'Intercolonial' express between Melbourne and Adelaide starts running with Joint Stock VR & SAR equipment.
  • Scientists discover speed of light
  • 'Swan Lake' ballet composed


  • Height of land boom: seven rail lines opened on 1st Oct 1888.
  • First railway in China opened


  • Westinghouse Brake equipment starting to be fitted to carriages
  • Asa Briggs buys rights to 'Coca-Cola'
  • Eiffel Tower built in Paris


  • Westinghouse Brake equipment starting to be fitted to freight stock
  • Works starts on Trans Siberian railway
  • 'Zipper' patented in the U.S.


  • Speight vs Syme Court case triggers three major effects:
    1. Creation of diagram books, starting 1897
    2. Start of triennial rolling stock stocktaking
    3. Restricted rolling stock information; an effect that will last to the 1980's.
  • U.S take over Hawaiian Islands
  • 'Pullman' strike, union leader jailed
  • Astonomer believes there is life on mars


  • Start of triennial stocktaking to locate all vehicles
  • US Supreme Court rules income tax unconstitutional
  • Hydro-electric plant opens on Niagara Falls
  • X-rays accidentally discovered


  • First rolling stock Diagrams Book issued to identify stock
  • Scientist finds atoms contain electrons
  • Boston opens underground railway


  • Wangaratta - Whitfield narrow gauge ( 2'6" ) line opens
  • War starts between British and Boers in South Aftrica


  • Handbrakes changed from side 2 to side 1 in wagon design
  • Rolls-Royce agree to build motor cars


  • Swing door car modified with 'sliding doors' for trial
  • Trans Siberia railway opens


  • Start of lengthening project (45' to 52') for suburban swing door carriages
  • US Army to build Panama Canal
  • 20 million starving in Russian famine


  • New edition of Diagrams Book released
  • Ford produces 'Model T' car


  • 'Tait' sliding door set prototype under construction
  • Astronomers sight new planet past Neptune


  • Newcastle miners strike: Victoria decides to open coal fields
  • Last issue of Diagrams Book published. Update pages only from this year
  • Dalai Lama flees Tibet as China invades
  • Slavery abolished in China
  • Scott journeys to South Pole


  • Project to lengthen cars finished
  • Last issue of Diagrams Book published. Update pages only from this year
  • Archduke Ferdinand assassinated at Sarayevo
  • Civil war in Mexico
  • Germany invades Belgium
  • Britain and Belgium declare war on Germany


  • Cars for electric service under construction. Used as gaslit cars
  • Allies offensive on Somme
  • Tanks used for first time in battle


  • Swing door gaslit stock conversion to electric suburban stock starts
  • USA enters European war
  • Plans for Jewish homeland in Palestine


  • First of the new excursion cars placed in service (APL)
  • Married women over 30 get vote in Britian
  • British land at Archangel to fight Bolshevicks
  • Germany agrees to Armistice (cease fire without a victor)
  • In excess of 10 million die in WW.I


  • The two McKeen cars converted to passenger cars for Altona shuttle
  • Allies supply food to starving Germans
  • Britian plans to partition Ireland


  • Electric carriage codes modified to one letter descriptions
  • Germany finally agrees to pay war reparations
  • Britain send troops to Belfast to restore order


  • Wagons modified with autocouplers and tested.
  • G cars introduced with gas and electric lighting
  • Swing door car conversion to electric service suddenly cancelled
  • French occupy Essen when Germany defaults on reparation payments
  • Nazi party holds first rally in Munich
  • Salt tax restored in India
  • 622,000 German marks worth one British pound


  • First electricity sent from Yallourn to Melbourne
  • Handbrake symbol (white square) used for identification
  • Commissioners say 'No more four wheel wagons to be built new'
  • VR takes control of Deniliquin & Moama railway
  • MGM film company formed
  • First winter Olympics staged in France
  • Lenin dies
  • Britian plans Far East naval base


  • American bogie freight vehicles start running
  • Barframe bogies in service
  • First 'motel' opens in the USA
  • British surgeon performs first heart surgery


  • New stock constructed is fitted with auto-couplers or 'transition gear'
  • British troops end 7 year occupation of the Rhineland
  • Winnie the Poo published


  • "Part converted" electric stock converted to BC cars
  • Malcom Campbell sets world land speed record of 174 mph
  • Australian Parliament House opened


  • 10 year project started to convert suitable stock to autocouplers
  • Oxford English Dictionary completed after70 years work


  • Conversion starts on fitting autocouplers to Vestibule stock. Dual (auto/screw) coupled locomotives have notches cut out of buffers to vestibule/buffer lock.
  • Hitler granted German citizenship
  • Japan invades Manchuria
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge opened


  • Some six wheel stock converted to four wheels/autocouplers
  • US ends 14 years of prohibition (ban on liquor sales)


  • Cast bogies for freight wagons and suburban fleet start running
  • Bonnie and Clyde killed in Louisiana, US


  • Enamel paint starts to replace 'paint and varnish'
  • King Edward VIII abdicates
  • Civil war in Spain


  • Spirit of Progress ( SOP ) starts running
  • SOP shunting engines ( D4, E electric ) have top half of buffers cut back to prevent equipment damage on car width diaphragms
  • Stalin starts party purges
  • Airship Hindenburg bursts into flames
  • Republic of Eire established at Dublin
  • US inventions - Nylon (artificial silk), dry copying to replace wet copying , Polaroid camera


  • Uncoded "Spirit of Progress" cars renumbered to AS/BS stock
  • IRA suspects rounded up as new anti-terrorist laws start
  • Germany invades Poland, war declared by Britian


  • WW cars recoded back to AB cars to make "RAAF Recruiting Train"
  • Japanese bomb Pearl Harbour


  • Most remaining fixed wheel cars converted to Workmen's sleeping cars
  • Worlds first general purpose computing device: 30 tons, 1500sq ft area, 18000 valves, 5000 instructions per second


  • Start of scrapping all non autocoupled freight stock
  • Korea Armistace signed
  • Hillary climbs Mt Everest


  • Non autocoupled freight stock removed from service
  • Khruschev denounces Stalin
  • Israelis invade Egypt


  • End of buffer removal from freight stock. 1928 project finished
  • U-2 spy plane shot down


  • Standard Gauge link Melbourne - Sydney opened
  • Yuri Gagarin, first man in space
  • "Bay of Pigs" Cuban invasion


  • Bogie Exchange started (between 5'3" to 4'8 1/2" guages); letter 'X' in code
  • Last four wheel wagons 'Built New' ( see 1924 )
  • Profumo/Keeler affair
  • First woman in space
  • President J.F.Kennedy assassinated


  • 7" lettering applied to freight stock, large VR logo to bogie stock
  • Turks invade Cyprus
  • Nixon resigns after Watergate


  • First Victorian 'Natcode' in running: VOCX
  • First TestTube baby
  • First non-Italian Pope for 450 years


  • Start of bogie vehicle recoding to four letter system
  • 'Three Mile Island' nuclear accident
  • Khomeini replaces deposed Shah of Iran


  • Victorian Railways adopts trading name 'VicRail' with new colour scheme
  • First Space Shuttle


  • Start of guards vans being recoded to four letter system
  • AIDS virus "found"


  • Service stock recoded to three letter system
  • 20 million homeless after Bangladesh flood