Emerald Tourist Railway Board’s (ETRB) new Lakeside Visitor Centre located at Emerald Lake Park, Victoria provides an all-weather facility with multi-functional spaces, including retail, food and beverages services, spaces for community and corporate functions and amenities to cater for the growing demand at the increasingly popular tourist attraction, Puffing Billy Railway.

The existing facilities at Puffing Billy Railway’s Lakeside Station were not providing the all-weather amenities, capacity or the visitor experience expected by today’s tourists. The upgrade of the Lakeside Visitor Centre was required to further enhance the tourist attraction with the capacity of servicing up to 250 passengers per hour. AECOM was engaged to undertake project management services.

The Lakeside Visitor Centre was delivered in an environmentally sensitive location requiring significant stakeholder management of the governing Council. A clear project governance and communication structure was established at the commencement of the project and three groups (Project Governance Group, Project Working Group and Council Working Group) were formed ensuring all stakeholders had adequate input into the project. This resulted in a high level of transparency, collaboration and communication throughout the life of the project.

The project was delivered through a collaborative relationship between the Client, Contractor and project team. AECOM facilitated a Conditions for Success workshop to align all participants to confirm and create an understanding of the key elements underpinning this iconic project. This collaborative approach set the tone for the overall project, with all team members committed to working in a cooperative manner to achieve, and often exceed expectations.

Adding to the complexity of the project was COVID-19 and related events (i.e., restrictions and lockdowns) that disrupted progress, which impacted upon the State and Federal grant funding milestones. AECOM, in conjunction with ETRB, overcame the challenges and delivered Stage 1 of this iconic project on budget and ahead of ETRB’s targeted launch date.