Murtoa's Peter Janetzki and John Kemfert reminisce about the days when Horsham had trains

BACK IN THE DAY: Murtoa's Peter Janetzki and John Kemfert worked on the passenger rail trains when they travelled to Horsham. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI
BACK IN THE DAY: Murtoa's Peter Janetzki and John Kemfert worked on the passenger rail trains when they travelled to Horsham. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

MURTOA’S Peter Janetzki and John Kemfert were strong advocates for keeping passenger trains on the Horsham corridor 25 years ago. 

Both men were members of the Wimmera Mallee Rail Association, which fought to keep passenger rail services in Horsham.

Mr Kemfert was the association’s chairman and also drove passenger trains in the region for about 30 years.

Mr Kemfert said people were angry that the state government removed the service because it was utilised. 

He recalled driving trains with up to five carriages attached, which were always filled with passengers. 

The Wimmera Mallee Rail Association gained widespread support in its efforts to keep passenger rail, but Mr Kemfert said once Ararat discovered its service would remain, support dropped. 

“We had a couple hundred people march down the main street. I was holding a banner that read save our trains and we had a public meeting in the town hall,” he said. 

Not matter how hard the association pushed, Mr Kemfert said the politicians only response was – “yes, they will look into.” 

“They were like a mirror – we’ll look into it and nothing ever eventuates,” he said. “We just got so tired of putting our heads up against a brick wall and not achieving anything so we folded.”  

Mr Kemfert said the trains had great services feeding into the station. He said now buses do not go out far enough. 

“If we worked it right and had a train coming to Horsham we could have people feeding in from places like Goroke and Natimuk on buses,” he said. “At the moment people have to travel to Ararat, but Horsham is closer and majority would love to travel there to catch a train.”

“If trains come back they will get a lot of support.” 

Mr Kemfert said he supported Horsham Rural City Council efforts to return passenger rail.

“They are lighting the fire under the politicians. They are really fired up and they have financial backing – hopefully one day soon it will happen,” he said.