'Total Fire Ban' days
On days of Total Fire Ban or other extreme weather events in the Central District of Victoria, steam locomotives will not run at Puffing Billy Railway. Instead, the train will be operated with a diesel locomotive.
We will ensure our website is kept up to date regarding the railway's operations during the Fire Danger period, Total Fire Ban days or days of Extreme Weather. However, if you have any concerns or queries, please contact our Customer Service Centre.
To understand the Country Fire Authority's (CFA) fire danger ratings, please refer to the CFA website.
On TOTAL FIRE BAN or EXTREME WEATHER days:
- Puffing Billy trains will be diesel hauled and a limited timetable applies.
- In cases of extreme weather, events may be cancelled at any time at the discretion of management. In the case of a cancellation, we will endeavour to contact ticketholders as early as possible.
'CATASTROPHIC' fire danger days
When the fire rating is CATASTROPHIC:
- Puffing Billy Railway will be CLOSED.
- No staff or volunteers will be located on the Railway's premises.
Puffing Billy Railway regularly reviews its Fire Prevention Plans with the intention of minimising the fire risk within and adjacent to the railway corridor.
Environmental works carried out throughout the year complement our fire prevention plan.
Reduction of environmental weeds, clearing of debris from the corridor and drains all contribute in the continuous effort in the reduction of fuel loads.
The annual lineside clearing program commences in November with fuel reduction works covering the railway corridor from boundary to boundary. Manual and mechanic methods are used varying from hand weeding to using hand-held brush cutters, tractor and slasher, flail mower and a wood chipper.
In past years, this work has consumed some 1,000 man days of effort and it is anticipated that the coming year will be no different. Throughout the lineside clearing program, regular gangs are working within the corridor and around stations between Belgrave and Gembrook.
During the declared Fire Danger Period, rail mounted vehicles will operate behind all trains including steam or diesel hauled as a Fire Patrol.
The primary roles of the Fire Patrol crew are:
- Detecting and reporting of any fires
- The first point of contact with emergency services
- Safely fight the fire to extinguish/control within their resource and training capacity
All steam locomotives are fitted with stainless steel spark arresting grids in the smoke box and the ash pans located under the locomotive fireboxes are fitted with ash arresting screens which are required to be closed prior to the locomotives commencing operations during the declared Fire Danger period.
These safety devices are checked for serviceability by maintenance staff prior to and during the Fire Danger Season. Locomotive crews are required to check the safety devices for serviceability and correct operation on a daily basis.
On days of Total Fire Ban, diesel locomotives will normally be operated in place of steam locomotives. At the discretion of PBR Management, services between Lakeside and Gembrook will be suspended on these days.
Training / Emergency Services Liaison
Annual training sessions are carried out for Fire Patrol crew members and other railway staff. The railway maintains close contact with local CFA brigades and other emergency service providers including annual familiarisation training from Belgrave to Gembrook.