A BRIEF HISTORY OF 707 OPERATIONS INC.
The story of 707 Operations Inc. goes back to 1980 when a committee of six people (Lyn Helsby, Alan Jones, Peter Martin, Rodney Martin and Neil Tait) formed themselves into a group under the name of ‘Plan R’. Inspections of steam locomotive R707 were made at Newport where it had laid in storage for the 6 years since its removal from service. Although it looked to be in a very dilapidated condition on the exterior, closer examination revealed that it was largely superficial and was mechanically in fair condition.
Proposals were then forwarded to the General Manager of VicRail regarding its restoration. Agreements were then put into place and R707 was placed in the old tarpaulin shop, and it was here in February 1981 that the all-volunteer workforce began work on the actual restoration.
The locomotive was dismantled and the complete overhaul began on the boiler, the frame wheels and axles, the cab fittings, smoke box, cylinders, motion gear and the tender. Late in 1984, R707 was steam tested in the presence of the DLI Inspector. Having passed all these tests R707 was almost complete. Final adjustments were made, and then began the task of painting the locomotive and tender in its original livery as delivered.
And so, on the 20th July 1985, R707 was returned to service when she ran a trip to Bacchus Marsh and return. 2015 marks 30 years of operations of R707 by 707 Operations Inc.
In order to cater for R707's future service the name Plan R was changed to Seven – O – Seven Operations Inc. In 1992 the home of 707 Operations was relocated and today we are situated in Roads 7 and 8 of the Newport Workshops West Block.
Since those early days 707 Operations has expanded and today in addition to R707 we also have custody of locomotives:
- R753 – dismantled, no current plans for restoration
- J536 – dismantled, no current plans for restoration
- K154 – dismantled
- F317 – operational and used as the main yard shunter
- F204 – non-operational, held as a source of spares for F317
- T413 – operational, mainline certified and available for hire
- Y127 – operational and used as a yard shunter
- W244 – non-operational
All locomotives, are allocated to 707 Operations but remain the property of VicTrack on behalf of the State of Victoria.
With the demise of West Coast Rail in 2005 we purchased a set of five air-conditioned steel carriages and now 707 Operations can provide a complete steam-powered train to operate excursions on the main lines of Victoria.
The above is merely a pocket history of 707 Operations. To find out more about the group and its activities please explore this website and do not hesitate to contact us if we have kindled your interest in Victoria's railway heritage and you would like to be a part of its future.
Last Updated: 14 June 2015