The VRI was formed in 1909, and started operations at the 3rd Floor, Flinders Street Station, on 31 January, 1910. The Commissioners of the day saw a need for a Social Organisation, where Railway Staff could come together and discuss common issues, and relax in a friendly environment.
The VRI was also, for many decades, the Primary Educator of all Rail Staff in their Duties and Tickets, from Train Crews, Station staff and the like, through to the Accounting Office team, everyone was trained at the VRI on how to do their jobs in the VRI.
Growth in Membership
At the height of its power, the VRI would lead a member base of 30,000+ Families, all who would have a dedication to the Rail Industry and VRI. Throughout the State, Centres started, the earliest in 1916 in Ballarat, through to the later ones in Sunshine (1962) and beyond. During the "Cultural Revolution" of the 1970's and 80's, there was much change occuring in the Industry, and modern techniques, computerisation, and other factors, led to the shrinkage of the VR staff size, until the once Mighty VR body was broken up, into smaller parts. This shrinkage also affected some other bodies, including the VRI. It was still a very active and strong business, when due to circumstances, the VRI head office was moved from Flinders Street Station to Flinders Lane, near Spencer Street.
Preparing for Privatisation
The Public Transport System was being changed in major ways in the late 1980's and 1990's. We saw a number of State Organisations created, fold, and start with new parts... from VR to V/Line and Metrail, to MTA, the MMTB & MTA came together into the MET, then the MET and V/Line combined, to form the PTC. Towards the mid 1990's, many staff saw the writing on the wall... some departed for greener pastures or retirement, and others continued in the ever changing State Owned Enterprises, leading to Privatisation in 1999. It was at this point, that the VRI was again challenged, through the cut of the Government subsidy. Another move of office to Collins Street, and new staff taking the helm.
In 2003, the VRI again moved, back to it's founding area of Flinders Street Station, this time in Room 7, Ground Floor of the Building. Many challenges ahead, it has weathered well, and is now moving ahead into new waters following its Centenary Celebrations in 2010.Here is to the Future! Many good savings ahead... so stay on board for the ride, it is going to be a good one!
Growth Post Centenary
From the Centenary in 2010. the VRI is growing at a great rate, with many new members (from present and new Groups) joining in the benefits offered to all members. We are proud of our heritage, but not resting on our laurels. If something needs doing, services added, or changed, we do it! Come on! Join in the enjoyment of Member Services locally, interstate and Overseas. We are looking forward to the future, and providing Benefits to our Members that are worth MUCH MORE than the cost of Membership - for the next 100 years and beyond!