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“Horrible organisation”

Puffing Billy Railway
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Puffing Billy Train With Optional Penguin Parade or Melbourne City Tour
Ranked #1 of 10 things to do in Belgrave
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: PUFFING BILLY OPERATES DAILY EXCEPT CHRISTMAS DAY. Puffing Billy is Australia’s favorite steam train and one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world. This century-old steam train continues to run on its original mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook in the magnificent Dandenong Ranges 40kms east of Melbourne. Puffing Billy was built to serve at the turn of the century and is a genuine relic of our more leisurely days. The Railway is the major survivor of four experimental lines used to develop rural areas in the early 1900s. Puffing Billy Railway is now a major tourist attraction and operates every day except Christmas Day, thanks to the tireless efforts of more than 900 dedicated volunteers.
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Horrible organisation”
Reviewed July 15, 2013

I am a Disability Support Worker and my client used to love visiting the Puffing Billy, so I often took him there. On 3/4/13, my client and I were on the 11:10 train at Belgrave at 10:40 in the middle enclosed carriage, waiting for departure.

At 11:05, the conductor opened the carriage door and then aggressively and rudely said, "I'm gonna have to get you to move your stuff and put your bag overhead because I need to fit more people on."

Now understand that we'd been there before everyone else, and we had done nothing wrong whatsoever, yet she ordered in an aggressive, disparaging manner.

While I was repacking my client's snack box into his bag, she came back in and ordered us aggressively and rudely again, stating, "I need you to move because I need to get two more people in."

Turning to my client, she forcibly yelled at him, "Move up."

Because my client is clearly disabled, he needs coactive assistance, so he didn't move up immediately when she said.

She repeated her order aggressively, to him, "Could you please move up?"

She then asked me curtly and sarcastically, clearly with racial prejudice, "Does he understand English??"

This racist, insensitive, bigoted comment was offensive, demeaning, devaluing and humiliating in front of the rest of the passengers. My client, who is non-verbal and vulnerable, was unable to reply to her disgraceful humiliating taunts.

My client understands English very well. She should have had the sensitivity to understand that many travellers are disabled, just like many of their volunteers are. How dare she humiliate him in front of the rest of the passengers? Don't disabled people have enough self-perception problems to deal with?

I replied, "He's disabled."

She continued trying to move him along the seat, but of course he wouldn't move. Visibly hurt by what she said, I softly spoke to him – as a fellow human being – and prompted him to do so.

The absence of respect and dignity in her manner was breathtaking. In fact, I have never witnessed such conduct toward my visibly disabled client. This incident ruined the trip for me but more so for my client who is a train buff. This costly event is always anticipated with delight by my client. At one point during the trip, he wept.

I lodged a complaint to PB's management, which was met with reassurances of an investigation. After a length period, I finally received a response, whereby management dismissed the complaint, and instead made underhanded, insulting statements regarding my client and his disability.

What's notable is that the staff person breached PB's own policies, yet when I pointed this out, they didn't even acknowledge my email.

My client and I have not visited since.

Visited April 2013
6 Thank Jack_White_Stripes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PuffingBillyR, Manager at Puffing Billy Railway, responded to this review, July 16, 2013
Hi Jack_White_Stripes

Upon being contacted about this in April, the matter was taken seriously and investigated by the senior management team. The railway has taken the appropriate internal action.

Puffing Billy Railway is a not for profit organisation that relies on the support of over 900 volunteers – many of whom are train enthusiasts. Thanks to the dedicated work of our volunteers the railway is known as a friendly place to visit and we welcome many groups with disabilities.

Please be assured that we take the comfort and enjoyment of our Puffing Billy Railway passengers very seriously.

With kind regards
Puffing Billy Railway Senior Management Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,301 reviews from our community

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Adelaide, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“I've wanted to do this since I was old enough to walk....”
Reviewed July 14, 2013

Finally after so very long I got to ride on Puffing Billy. Well I had the excuse that I was taking my 2 boys 14 and 11 whilst we were visiting Melbourne but if the truth be known....

Puffing Billy is well run and a sheer pleasure to ride on. The ride is particularly augmented by the practice of sitting in the windows dangling your legs from the train!! The boys had a blast (as did the parents).

I've ridden a few "preserved" railways in my time but this one through the lush scenery of the Dandenongs is something special.

Rug up in winter as it can get cold. In fire ban seasons (typically summer) they will substitute a diesel loco for the steam train. Oh and if you don't have a couple of convenient kids you can borrow to be your excuse to ride PB then they also have a restaurant car on certain trains, murder mystery dinner and even a comedy train (adults only). Sadly I didn't get to try these but I did read about it in their brochures!!

Visited July 2013
Thank GrantOfSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PuffingBillyR, Marketing Executive at Puffing Billy Railway, responded to this review, July 16, 2013
Hi GrantOfSA,

Thank you for your review! We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed your trip aboard Puffing Billy. Visitors of all ages enjoy the opportunity to sit with their legs over the side of the carriages - an experience which really makes Puffing Billy unique.

Puffing Billy runs with diesel locomotives and a limited timetable on Days of Total Fire Ban in the Central Zone of Victoria. There are usually only a few days of Total Fire Ban days each year, so at the majority of the time we are operating our century old steam locomotives which our visitors know and love.

Kind regards from the Puffing Billy team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canmore, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
154 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“What fun!”
Reviewed July 10, 2013

This was recommended to us by folks who live in the Melbourne area and we were not disappointed. The scenery is spectacular and riding on the train with your feet dangling out the window - whether you are 6 or 60 is just plain good fun!

Visited May 2013
Thank Canmoretravelbugs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
“A pleasure for sure”
Reviewed July 9, 2013

I took my family friends from Prague on the steam railway leaving from Belgrave to Lakeside. They thought it such a delight as it took them back to their childhood. Petre said he remembered as a boy riding the steam trains but sadly they had now long gone. The volunteer staff were so helpful and polite, greeting us and making us feel welcomed and valued customers. We took a lunch with us, bought coffee at the Lakeside station kiosk and sat in the delightful lake parkland, watching the ducks and water fowl wondering and the beautiful rosella feeding. We took the return train back to Belgrave to finish the day by buying some wonderful souvenirs' to take back to Prague to remember this lovely day.

Visited June 2013
Thank Suzi K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Ah Beautiful”
Reviewed July 5, 2013

Lovely for the family or just for two. The scenery and the experience is gorgeous! Would definitely go again!

Thank A_232_jay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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