A five-year restoration project at Orange’s historic railway depot at East Fork will see heritage train tours begin as early as May .
The plan is to restore three heritage carriages to working order, and then use them to operate the tours out of Orange and all over NSW.
The first heritage train and diesel locomotive will be in operation as of May.
Canobolas Heritage Railway Society President John Bennett said the restoration of the train depot is crucial to the site’s development.
“What we envisage is to have a steam train in the winter and a diesel train taking over in the summer, running along the tracks.
“We are also thinking of doing a wine tour for two or three weeks of the year”.
“This whole program will help get people to Orange; the local economy will benefit and the tourism industry will grow”.
In conjunction with Orange City Council, Canobolas Heritage Railway Society will head the privately funded $5 million campaign.
The Orange train terminal ceased operation in the early 1970s, due to the end of the steam train era.
Originally the site had been a steam train depot, so when trains switched to diesel the depot was no longer required.
Diesel bases were instead set up in the towns of Lithgow, Bathurst and Dubbo.
The restoration will include a rejuvenation of the crew quarters and commercial offices, rebuilding the original round-house, and constructing a full workshop, store room and meeting room.
Junee Railway Workshops will also be using the station as a base for their fleet of locomotives.
Orange depot is the only operational heritage depot outside of Sydney City on the Western Line.