Since the Victorian Railways moved out of the workshops in the early 1990s, Steamrail, 707 Operations, and DERMPAV have been given short-term leases to occupy West Block and West Block yard, as well as a small section of Centre Block for administration.  East Block is currently used by Victrack to store heritage trams and railway rolling stock pending reallocation. VicTrack and the government have earmarked East Block for future rail use and have ruled out using it for a rail/transport museum any other heritage rail activities.

Current Situation

VicTrack advised Steamrail and all other not for profit organisations at the Newport Workshops in 2018 that their current leases would not be renewed when they expire in April 2020.  The provisions of the current lease continue on indefinitely, subject to these groups being offered a new lease or being given the notice to quit.  A new lease is currently being negotiated which is anticipated to cover the period until 2026.  After that date both the future of all Steamrail, 707 Operations and DERMPAV and the West Block of the Newport Workshops, unfortunately, remains uncertain.

The government has stated that they have no plans for the 20-hectare heritage listed Former Newport Railways Workshop site when it is cleared of all heritage rail activities.   However, Victrack has made it clear that it intends to develop it for future rail use.  This may include the scrapping of rolling stock coming out of service, stabling, and maintenance.  This seems to be at odds with the generally recognized fact that it is far cheaper and easier to develop such facilities in an outer suburban location than to try and convert heritage-listed 19th Century buildings into a 21st Century workplace.

We have over 6100 signatures on a formal petition requesting the Victorian government ‘That all the buildings, machinery and land listed on the Victorian Heritage Register H1000, be declared the NEWPORT RAIL HERITAGE PRECINCT and be used only for rail heritage purposes’.This was presented to Government in April 2022.