The Overland returns to Murray Bridge after 10 months

The passenger train had not run since last March due to COVID-19, and its future was long in doubt.

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Railway buffs Ivan Wood and David Moulden were happy to spend half an hour waiting for a train in Murray Bridge last week – after all, they had already waited for 10 months.

The first Overland since last March passed through Murray Bridge on its way from Adelaide to Melbourne on January 3.

Operators Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions had to add extra cars to the train to accommodate social distancing between passengers, a precaution against COVID-19.

Compared with the difficulties the 134-year-old service had endured over the past 12 months, though – including border closures and an 11th-hour bail-out by the Victorian government – that was no problem.

Mr Wood and Mr Moulden, friends whose interest in the railways stretches back decades, were thrilled just to see her passing by when she returned on January 4.

Having seen so many other trains relegated to museum pieces – at Gladstone, Peterborough, Moonta, Morgan and on the Nullarbor – it was nice to see one starting up again, they said.

“It’s magic, you know,” Mr Wood said.

Only one passenger hopped off the train on its return to Murray Bridge: Bianca Long, an ex-local now living in Geelong.

She had planned to come back and visit her mother in July, then December, but COVID had wrought havoc with those plans, she said.

At any rate, she preferred the Overland to any other form of transportation.

“It’s definitely better than a bus, and pretty friendly,” she said.

The Overland travels from Murray Bridge to Melbourne on Thursdays and Sundays, and back on Fridays and Mondays.

The journey typically takes around nine hours.

A basic fare costs $114.