ABOUT half a dozen people got on what could be one of the last Overland services towards Melbourne as the train pulled into Horsham on Friday afternoon.
It arrived just over a week after the South Australian government announced it would cut any future financial support for the bi-weekly service from December 31.
Horsham resident Betty Smith, who turns 98 next month, was among those who embarked on the journey.
"I've got to have someone go with me now, because I'm a bit wobbly in the legs and things like that that I wouldn't travel by myself,” she said.
"They do have nice people on the train to help the elderly. You don't have to struggle to get on and off, there's always someone there.
"I can't really drive any more myself, only around the town. I'd have trouble getting on and off buses in Ararat.”
Ms Smith also reminisced about the days when the service was overnight.
"They were a big deal when I was a little girl - I'm South Australian - and people would go down to see people go off on The Overland,” she said.
“Ladies would wear formal long dresses and their furs to go overnight on the train to Melbourne!"
Ms Smith was on her way to her granddaughter’s wedding at the weekend. She was joined by her husband and daughter Pam Thomson.
Ms Thomson lives in the western South Australian town of Windunna. She made the ten-and-a-half hour drive to Horsham to get on board with her mother.
“We’d have to take the car or bus as our next option. I’d just hate to see it go,” she said.
“I’d just hate to see it go.”Pam Thomson
While a Melbourne woman who wanted to remain anonymous was returning from visiting cousins in Adelaide.
“The bus driver said there wasn't a train anymore when I arrived on the coach to here, (but) when I went to the V-Line booking office they said 'no no no you can get a train from here today', but I don't know for how much longer,” she said.
She said she used The Overland several times, and preferred train travel to anything else.
“You can get up and walk around and they usually have a buffet car. And when it’s hot like this, it’s just so much nicer on a train,” she said.
A guard said passenger numbers through the Wimmera had been relatively stable in recent years, though there was a drop when smoking areas were cut.
They estimated around 20 people usually got on at the regional stops from Nhill to Ararat.
A petition calling on Great Southern Rail and both state Premiers to commit to the train’s future has attracted nearly 1800 signatures.
While a statement from Victoria’s Department of Transport says its funding is still on the table, and accuses South Australia of “abandoning” regional communities in both states.