Victorian Railways

The Victorian Railways, trading from 1974 as VicRail, was the state-owned operator of most rail transport in the Australian state of Victoria from 1859 to 1983. The first railways in Victoria were private companies, but when these companies failed or defaulted, the Victorian Railways was established to take over their operations. Most of the lines operated by the Victorian Railways were of 5 ft 3 in. However, the railways operated up to five 2 ft 6 in narrow gauge lines between 1898 and 1962, a 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in standard gauge line between Albury and Melbourne from 1961. A Department of Railways was created in 1856 with the first appointment of staff. British engineer, George Christian Darbyshire was made first Engineer-in-Chief in 1857, steered all railway construction work until his replacement by Thomas Higginbotham in 1860. In late 1876 New York consulting engineer Walton Evans arranged the supply of two 4-4-0 locomotives manufactured by the Rogers Locomotive Works of New Jersey, USA to the Victorian Railways.

Because of political turmoil in the Victorian Government, Higginbotham was one of 137 officials removed from office on Black Wednesday on 8 January 1878 when the Government was denied supply. He, like a number of other senior officers, was not reappointed. Robert Watson took over as Engineer-in-Chief, but in 1880 a new Ministry expressed a wish to redress the injustice by re-instating Higginbotham. However, at the sudden death of Higginbotham in 1880, William Elsdon took over for two years before his retirement in 1882, Watson returned to his former position as Engineer-in-Chief, which he held up to the time of his death. On 1 November 1883, assent was given to the Victorian Railways Commissioners Act 47 Vic. No.767, to construct and manage the state's railways. The staff of the Department of Railways came under the authority of the Railway Commissioners, which became known as Victorian Railways; the elaborate headquarters at 67 Spencer Street were opened in 1893. Victorian Railways grew to service all parts of the state extending some lines into New South Wales under the 1922 Border Railways Act.

In the late 19th century the railways became something of a political football with politicians demanding new lines to be built in places where traffic levels never justified it. In 1864 there was just 254 miles of railway; the system expanded to reach 2,900 route miles by 1891 and to its greatest extent of 4,755 route miles in 1939. The result was that by the beginning of the 20th century, no Victorian were more than 25 miles from a railway line; the period from the end of the 1930s saw a slow decline in route mileage as unprofitable branches were closed. Conversion of the Melbourne suburban system to electric operation commenced in 1919 and was completed by 1930, creating what was claimed at the time to be the world's largest electric suburban rail system. 1937 saw the introduction of the streamlined Spirit of Progress passenger train, with air conditioning and all steel carriage construction. Diesel power was introduced in 1951 with ten F-class diesel-electric shunting locomotives, followed by B-class mainline diesel-electric locomotives in 1952/53.

A standard gauge line connecting to the New South Wales system was constructed in 1961 allowing through trains to operate between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia's two largest cities, for the first time. The last steam locomotive was withdrawn in 1972. In May 1973 the Railways Act 1972 passed the management of the Railways from the Victorian Railways Commissioners to a Victorian Railways Board. In 1974 the Victorian Railways was rebranded as VicRail, but the royal blue and gold livery used on rolling stock was retained until 1981. In 1983 VicRail was divided into two—the State Transport Authority taking responsibility for the provision of country rail and road and freight services, the Metropolitan Transit Authority taking over suburban passenger operations; the State Transport Authority traded under the V/Line name, while the Metropolitan Transit Authority used that name until the Public Transport Corporation was formed in 1989. Between 1996 and 1999 V/Line and The Met were privatised. V/Line Passenger was franchised to National Express, returning to government ownership in 2002.

The V/Line Freight division is now owned by Pacific National. The infrastructure is now managed by VicTrack with the interstate rail freight infrastructure leased to the Australian Rail Track Corporation. Metro Trains Melbourne now operates the suburban railway network; when first formed in 1857, the management of the Railways Department was vested in the President of the Board of Land and Works, this situation remaining until 1884. With the passing of the Victorian Railways Commissioners Act 1883, a board of four commissioners was put in charge, responsible to the Minister of Railways; the Chairman of Commissioners of the Victorian Railways were: Richard Speight: 1883 to 1892 Richard Hodge Francis: 1892 to 1894 James Syder: 1894 to 1896 John Mathieson: 1896 to 1901 William Francis Joseph Fitzpatrick: 1901 to 1903 Thomas James Tait: 1903 to 1910 William Francis Joseph Fitzpatrick: 1910 to 1915 Charles Ernest Norman: 1915 to 1920 Harold Winthrop Clapp: 1920 to 1939 Norman Charles Harris: 1940 to 1950 Robert George Wishart: 1950 to 1955 Edgar Henry Brownbill: 1956 to 1967 George Frederick Brown: 1967 to 1973After the Bland Report of 1972, in May 1973 the Railways Act 1972 passed the management of the Railways from the Victorian Railways Commissioners to a Victorian Railways Board.

The board could have up to seven members, with six being appo

Clackmannan (district)

From 1975, Clackmannan was the name of a small town and local government district in the Central region of Scotland, corresponding to the traditional county of Clackmannanshire, Scotland's smallest. The town of Clackmannan, in which the'Stone' - a prehistoric monolith of probable cultic significance in the Iron Age - remains, was the chief settlement of its area from the Middle Ages, until supplanted from the second half of the 18th century by the growing manufacturing town of Alloa, on the north shore of the Firth of Forth; the medieval castle of Clackmannan Tower stands above the town and is a landmark visible for many miles around. Dating from the 14th century, though much altered, the Tower is at present not open to the public, having been rendered dangerous by subsidence due to coal-mining; the Stone of Manau stands by the mercat cross and the surviving tower and west gable of the former burgh tolbooth in the centre of the old town. Manau or Manaw was the name of the surrounding district in the Dark Ages.

The Local Government etc. Act 1994 transferred the name to a unitary authority with the same boundaries, but the authority has subsequently re-adopted the traditional name of Clackmannanshire. Sir Thomas Bruce 1st Baron of Clackmannan was a member of the House of Bruce and received lands in Clackmannan from his cousin Robert II Headland Archaeology has completed an excavation of a prehistoric and medieval site at Meadowend Farm, Kennet; the site, which lies to the south-east of Clackmannan, is within the corridor for the new road and bridge across the River Forth at Kincardine. Over 2000 fragments of prehistoric pottery were recovered from the site; the vast majority came from a dense concentration of pits or postholes and has been dated to the middle/late Neolithic. A small polished stone axe was found in the area of the Neolithic pit concentration. A larger unpolished axe was recovered from a pit elsewhere on site; the majority of the pottery consisted of fragments. The pottery showed a wide variety of impressed decoration.

There was a number of shallow hearths in the area but no clear contemporary structures were identified on site. At least 9 structures were identified on site; the most substantial of these was a large roundhouse with an outer ring-groove and an entrance to the south-east with an extended porch. Inside was a stone-lined hearth, numerous pits and postholes. Many of these were rich in charcoal suggesting. Prehistoric pottery has been recovered from the postholes dating to the middle/late Bronze Age. Two other ring-groove structures found on site were heavily truncated. Two large post-built roundhouses were found, both with long porches, one with an entrance to the south-east, the other to the north-west. A third post-built structure contained a hearth-pit, filled with fire-cracked stones and charcoal, it is hoped. Clackmannan Subdivisions of Scotland Clackmannan Tower Website

Bike-to-Work Day

Bike to Work Day is an annual event held on various days in the Spring across the United States, Europe and some other places, that promotes the bicycle as an option for commuting to work. Bike Week is the week that includes the Bike-to-Work Day, in May, the World Bicycle Day, on June 3. Bike to Work Day was originated by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956 and is a part of Bike-to-Work Week, in turn part of National Bike Month. Leading up to Bike to Work Day, national and local bicycle advocacy groups encourage people to try bicycle commuting as a healthy and safe alternative to driving by providing route information and tips for new bicycle commuters. Further, the American Medical Association has endorsed Bike to Work Day as part of its push to encourage active transportation; the event is supported by many organizations, from local bike shops and restaurants to municipalities and transit authorities. The southern California commuter rail network Metrolink offers free rides to cyclists on Bike to Work day.

On Bike to Work Day, a wide variety of bicycle-related events are organized. The day is a major event in the San Francisco Bay Area, where thousands of residents participate annually, supported by corporate sponsors. Organized "Commuter Convoys," and "Energizer Stations" set up in various locations around the Bay Area providing free food and coffee to bike commuters by organizations such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Mayor of San Francisco participate, commuting by bicycle to City Hall. Bike to Work Day enjoys broad participation throughout the country. Eleven businesses in Boulder, Colorado gave free breakfast to 1,200 participants in 2012 and 1,600 participants in 2013. Bethesda, Maryland had speeches on transportation. In Kitchener, Ontario, a local bike club, Ziggy's, donated twelve commuter bikes to people who participated and blogged about the event in 2012. Chicago, Illinois gave free balaclavas to participants.

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