FAQ

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The Questions below are frequently asked by our passengers, and we trust you'll find the answer to some of your queries here.If your query is not listed below, please contact our Customer Service Centre and they'll be able to assist.

PLANNING A TRIP TO PUFFING BILLY

What was Puffing Billy built for?
Puffing Billy was built as a developmental railway to allow the settlers in the Dandenong Ranges access to Melbourne's markets to sell their produce. The railway carried general goods, potatoes, produce, timber and passengers.
The train began to be used for tourist excursions very early in the 20th century, using open trucks with canvas canopies. The Excursion Train carriages that typify Puffing Billy, with the children's legs hanging out of the carriage sides, were constructed for the tourist market about 1919.

How old is Puffing Billy?
The NA locomotives were constructed between 1899 and 1917. 6A is our oldest operational locomotive, having been built in 1901. All the locomotives have builder's plates that tell you the year in which they were built.

What's the duration of each trip aboard Puffing Billy?
The duration depends on which section of the railway line you choose to travel;

  • Belgrave to Lakeside - 1 hour each way and a minimum of 3 hours return with time spent at Lakeside (refer to our current timetable for further information)
  • Belgrave to Gembrook - 1 hour 50 mins each way or 5.5hours return with approx 2 hours spent at Gembrook
  • Belgrave to Menzies Creek - 30mins each way. Return trips to Menzies Creek are only advised on certain train departures. Please note that travelling to Menzies Creek on some train departures results in a two hour wait for the train's return to Belgrave. Refer timetable.
  • Lakeside to Gembrook - 40 mins each way or 3.5 hours return with approx 2 hours spent at Gembrook

For timings on your preferred train departure, please refer to our timetable.

What is there to do at Lakeside and/or Gembrook and/or Menzies Creek?
Information about facilities and attractions at the different stations is available on the page The Journey on this website.

How fast can Puffing Billy go?
The maximum speed limit is 15 miles per hour (approximately 24 km/h).

Can I hang my legs over the side of Puffing Billy's carriages?
Passengers are welcome to sit with their legs hanging out of the Excursion Train carriages, provided their bodies are within the bars.

Can I make an advance booking to travel on a Puffing Billy Excursion Train?
Booking online is now available, please refer to our Buy Tickets page for more information.

Where can I park if arriving by car to Puffing Billy Railway?
There is car parking available on all the main stations. More information can be found by clicking here. In Belgrave, the following parking options are available:

  • Rear of US Bus Lines (35 spaces)
  • Metro carpark (100 spaces)
  • CFA carpark (30 spaces)
  • Masonic Carpark (15 spaces)

There is also parking available at Mater Christi College on weekends and during Victorian School Holidays ONLY. 

 

Does Puffing Billy have wheel-chair capacity on all Excursion Trains?
If you are travelling in a wheelchair, there are limited wheelchair spaces available. Please contact us before day of travel. Further information for persons with limited mobility is available by clicking here.

Can I buy food to eat on the train?
Yes, you are most welcome to do this. Food as well as hot and cold beverages are available from all the main stations. 

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UPON ARRIVAL

Can I break my journey enroute or must I travel to the destination shown on the ticket?
We would not recommend breaking your journey enroute unless travelling to Gembrook. In this instance, you could travel to Lakeside station on the 10.30am train when it arrives at 11.30, and continue to Gembrook when that train comes in.

Does Puffing Billy's track take a circular route to arrive back at Belgrave or must I change trains at Lakeside?
Puffing Billy's track goes from Belgrave to Gembrook, with stations enroute including Menzies Creek, Emerald, Lakeside and Cockatoo. At Gembrook station, the train stops before returning to Belgrave on the same track. Many trains only travel as far as Lakeside station before returning. There are more than one Puffing Billy locomotive which enables the Railway to operate at least three train departures daily (except Christmas Day).

Why do the Booking Office staff ask for Postcodes when selling a ticket?
This information is collected for marketing purposes. By knowing where our visitors originate from, we can ensure that the information available at our stations, as well as online, caters to our visitors.

Can I take a fold up pram on the train?
Yes, but due to the narrow carriage doors, folding or narrow type pushers are the only types of prams which can be accommodated on Puffing Billy.

Why can't I walk up and purchase a ticket to travel on the 'Steam & Cuisine Luncheon Train'?
Puffing Billy uses an external caterer, and as a result we need prior notice to ensure we have the correct number of dishes available on the train for the passengers travelling on the day.

Is it possible to return to Belgrave from Gembrook, Lakeside, Emerald or Menzies Creek using Public Transport?
Bus route 695 services Belgrave-Gembrook Road, and passes close to Gembrook, Emerald, Menzies Creek and Belgrave stations. Catching this bus after travelling on Puffing Billy to Lakeside station (in Emerald Lake Park) requires a 700 metre walk to the closest bus stop. Most of this walk is uphill. For updated timetable information, please refer to the Public Transport Victoria website.

Is it an easy walk from Lakeside station to Emerald Station, and how long does this take?
Walking this distance takes approx. 20 minutes. Some of the distance is uphill.

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COMMENCING THE JOURNEY ELSEWHERE THAN BELGRAVE

How do I find my way by car to Emerald and Lakeside?
The distance between Belgrave and the other stations can be driven along Belgrave-Gembrook Road. You'll find a map with directions by clicking here.

How long does it take to drive to Menzies Creek & Lakeside?
It takes about 10 minutes to drive from Belgrave to Menzies Creek, and 20 minutes to drive Belgrave to Lakeside

Do I pay for car parking at Lakeside if I elect to start and finish my journey at Lakeside?
Yes. The car park at Lakeside station is run by Cardinia Shire Council, and parking fees are $2 per hour or $6 per day.

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GROUP BOOKINGS AND SPECIAL EVENTS

Can a train be hired for Group Outings and special events?
Yes, they can! More information is available by clicking here

How many passengers are required in the Group to qualify for a Group Concession fare?
A minimum of 20 or more paying passengers on a return journey qualifies for a group discount. More information is available by clicking here.

Can a Group Concession fare be sold without prior arrangements being made at a station booking office?
No, Group Concession fares are only available if prebooked through the Customer Service Centre on (03) 9757 0700.

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OPERATIONS AND VOLUNTEERING

How many steam and diesel locomotives does Puffing Billy operate on the line?
Puffing Billy operates six steam locomotives and two diesel locomotives on our Excursion Trains, plus certain other locomotives which are used for some of our special events. Due to the heritage nature of the steam locomotives, Puffing Billy have a regular maintenance program in place. As a result, one or more of the locomotives can be out of service for maintenance at any given time. The Diesel locomotives are predominately used on days of Total Fire Ban.

Why do Fire Patrol vehicles follow some trains?
Fire Patrol vehicles will operate behind all trains be they steam or diesel hauled for the duration of the declared Fire Danger period. The primary role of the Fire Patrol crew is the detection and reporting of fires. Their secondary role is to fight the fire if it is within their training and resource capacity to safely do so.

How many volunteers work at Puffing Billy on a normal train running day?
On any given day, between 30-50 volunteers work at Puffing Billy. The Railway has over 900 volunteers.

How much coal does a Puffing Billy locomotive use?
On a return trip to Lakeside the locomotive uses approximately 3/4 ton of coal.