The historic Southern Aurora passenger service will briefly return to the Riverina later this year in the form of a luxury rail cruise.
The Southern Aurora overnight express passenger train ran from 1962 to 1986 and offered passengers sleeper cabins and lounge and dining cars on journeys between Melbourne and Sydney.
The Vintage Rail Journeys company will use restored Southern Aurora carriages for its 'Aurora Australis' train on a Riverina Rail Tour in October.
Vintage Rail Journeys director Simon Mitchell said the tour was fully sold out and would run with 15 or 16 carriages and bring about 130 passengers along a tour that included Junee, Griffith and Temora.
"We're taking the sleeping train way beyond what she was intended to deal with," he said.
"The Southern Aurora was an overnight express, it was a commuter train, it was a means of transport whereas what we are doing with it is something she was never really designed to do but she does it with aplomb.
"It's slow rail cruising and one of the advantages is that in some of the smaller places we're going to, it would be very hard to find accomodation for 130 people yet with the sleeping train we can go to some of these slightly out of the way places."
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The Riverina Rail Tour previously ran in October 2020 and Mr Mitchell said the region had "superb" destinations to offer.
"Places like Coolamon, it's just such a gorgeous little town and perfectly built for a rail cruise as the station is right in town," he said.
The Aurora Australis version of the Southern Aurora has attracted a lot of attention from rail enthusiasts and residents in its previous outings in regional NSW.
"We get people at just about every level crossing as a 400-metre-long train that is longer than the Southern Aurora ever was during its service, Mr Mitchell said.
"It's a bit of a spectacle."
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