How many restaurants in Australia own and operate their own train with its own locomotive? Only one in Australia that we know of– The Q Train!
For our first year of operation, The Q Train has been pulled by QR Locomotive 1604 -1000HP Diesel Electric, owned by the Bellarine Railway and restored by Andrew to its original condition over several years. As we have gained momentum, we recognised a need to have our own locomotive, so we can then have the 1604 as a backup should the need arise.
So, exploring within the railway world we discovered that the Emu Bay Railway (TAS) OR 1107 – 1000HP Diesel Hydraulic was available for lease, so the painstaking process of completely restoring the locomotive commenced. Built in 1971, The 770 horsepower diesel hydraulic locomotive formerly from the Emu Bay Railway in Tasmania, where it used to haul ore trains on the rugged West Coast, is now leading a more sedate life hauling the the Q Train on its 32km return rail journey between Drysdale Train Station and the historic Queenscliff Station, on the Bellarine Peninsula, near Geelong. The service now operates three times weekly, serving up to 100 guests at a time.
So, this means that in addition to being Australia’s only dedicated restaurant in a train, what makes our service truly unique is the fact that The Q Train team manage all facets of the operation. Far more than just employing hospitality staff, The Q Train also has a team of operations and maintenance staff, including train drivers and fitters, working behind the scenes to ensure the train operates smoothly. These employees are assisted by the volunteers of The Bellarine Railway.
According to owner and operator Andrew Bridger, from first conceiving the idea until now, almost 12 months into service, The Q Train journey has been both incredibly rewarding and challenging.
“We always knew we were up for a challenge, taking on the task of completely refurbishing an entire Sunlander train and overhauling a locomotive, whilst also navigating how to get a restaurant up and running.
“Twelve months in to service and we’ve faced the same challenges facing many new restaurants across the country, however we have the added challenge of maintaining a moving train and locomotive on top of that. The skill sets of our staff are certainly more varied than your standard restaurant staff!”