The Victorian Railways Institute (VRI) Incorporated is a not for profit, volunteer, member-based association, servicing the needs of members and the communities in which we operate.
The VRI, originally part of the Victoria Railways, commenced in 1910 with the objective of promoting the intellectual, social and physical wellbeing of the members (railways employees and their families).
Today our mission remains the same, and we strive to grow and improve membership benefits and services while ensuring the longevity of the VRI. Our members, although predominately based in rail come from varying communities within Victoria and are made up of individuals and families through to retirees.
The VRI has community centres throughout metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria including Sunshine, Lilydale, Seymour, Warragul, Ballarat, Bendigo, Dimboola, Ararat, Maryborough and Geelong plus more. These regional centres provide our members with a place to come together as a community to socialise and participate in sporting competitions along with providing a space for local community groups to use the facilities.
The VRI currently provides members (both working and retired rail employees) with the following benefits;
- Sporting clubs and competitions including cricket, croquet, lawn bowls, tenpin bowling, darts, billiards and snooker and golf.
- Member discounts on dining, travel, entertainment and everyday living.
- Accommodation across Australia and New Zealand provided by each Railway Institute.
- Member’s events.
- Insurance, Mortgage Brokers, Electricity and Gas broker savings.
To support and encourage social, physical, and mental wellbeing of members.
At its maximum the Institute had 30,000 members, along with their families. Members were based not only at Flinders Street Station but in District Centres across the Victoria. Ballarat was the earliest established in 1916, and centres went on to include Geelong, Bendigo, Seymour, Lilydale, Dimboola and Sunshine in 1962.
During the 1970s the railway industry was challenged with a great change from within and also from the community in general. Modern technologies, computerisation, along with the closure of unprofitable services saw a decrease in railway staff numbers.
During the 1980s there was a lot of change in how the Victorian railway system was managed. The metropolitan system was separated from the country system, and a policy of a more business-like operation saw the rail industry being operated as a State Owned Enterprise.
The flow-on effect of this new approach saw the traditional funding of the Institute challenged. The Victorian Railways had traditionally funded the Institute from their finances. With the privatisation of the Victorian rail industry in 1999, the Institute had to become a stand- alone, self-funded not-for-profit body.
Although our operation has changed greatly from those early days in 1910, the VRI has remained true to the original objective and continues to provide for the social, physical and mental and wellbeing of members.