Department of Railways 2

Public Record Office Victoria
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Formation of Department of Railways II

On 1 September 1877, the Governor-in-Council removed the administration of matters relating to roads and bridges from the Department of Railways and Roads (VA 2875). Responsibility for railway matters was subsequently assumed by a second Department of Railways.

Over the next few years significant internal administrative changes took place as responsible positions were created, abolished and revived in relatively short time periods.

The Department initially reported to the Commissioner of Railways and Roads until 5 March 1880, and thereafter to the Commissioner of Railways. By 1878 the government had purchased the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay United Railway Company - the last of the major railway companies - although it appears that minor railway lines could still be constructed ly.

Administrative Structure and Functions

To carry out its main functions of the survey, construction and maintenance of railway lines and the management of the State's railway service, the Department of Railways on 12 July 1882 consisted of the following branches:

Administration Branch, responsible for the general supervision and administration of the whole of the railway service.

Engineer-in-Chief's Branch, responsible for the supervision of the survey and construction of all lines.

Engineer for Existing Lines Branch, responsible for the supervision and maintenance of all constructed railways.

Traffic Branch, responsible for the management of railway traffic including passengers, goods and live-stock.

Locomotive Branch, concerned with general railway practice and requirements.

Telegraph Branch, responsible for the supervision of telegraph and signalling matters, clocks and watches.

Role of Board of Land and Works (VA 744) and Victorian Railways Commissioners (VA 2876)

At all times the business of the Department was subject to the authority of the Board of Land and Works (VA 744). In 1884 the management of the State's railways was assumed by a statutory body known as the Victorian Railways Commissioners.

The Board of Land and Works thereafter effectively ceased to exercise responsibility for railways matters and it appears that the Minister responsible for Railways ceased to be, ex officio, a Vice-President of the Board.

Although the functions of the Railway Department were not affected by this transfer of statutory responsibility the Department which existed under the direction of the Victorian Railway Commissioners has been registered as a separate agency: VA 2876 Victorian Railways.

Location of Records

See List of Holdings 2nd edition, 1985, section 3.21.0.

Data time period: [1877 TO 1884]

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