The Taradale railway precinct forms part of the Murray Valley Railway (Melbourne to Echuca line). Opened in five stages from February 1859 to September 1864, the Murray Valley Railway was the largest of the Colony's first two main trunk lines. The inability of the line's original private promoters - the Melbourne, Mount Alexander and Murray River Company - to raise sufficient funds to construct the line, led to the government purchasing the company and embracing a public railway system. The Government's decision to construct the line in 1856 was accompanied by the formation of the Victorian Railways Department. The building of the line during the early 1860s reflected the strategic economic issues of the day: servicing the important goldfields of Castlemaine and Bendigo, and capturing the Murray River and Riverina trade for the Port of Melbourne. With a labour force of more than 6,000 men, the Melbourne to Echuca line was the Colony's largest capital works project of its time. The line is still used today for public transport and freight services and comprises a very large number of structures and facilities of varying ages, conditions and degrees of operational and business significance.
The Taradale railway precinct is of historical and scientific importance to the State of Victoria.
The Taradale railway precinct (comprising the Taradale viaduct, station complex and two culverts) is historically and scientifically significant as an integral part of the railway line and an important representative sample of one of the earliest and grandest capital works projects in Victorian history. The four features comprising the precinct are all substantially intact and provide a crucial reminder of the adoption of English engineering and architectural standards and the role of the Victorian Railway Department in developing the Colony's engineering expertise.
The Taradale Station is of architectural significance as an important and intact example of a station complex on the line. The railway station is also significant as an essentially intact example of the 'Carlsruhe' style of station building. At the time of its construction the nearby viaduct was the largest Australian metal girder bridge and had the second largest span (after the Barwon River Bridge, at Geelong). It is also significant as one of the oldest existing metal bridges in Australia. The two culverts, one at either end of the station, are excellent examples of two of the three culvert design types used on the Kyneton to Bendigo section of the line. The Taradale railway precinct makes an important contribution in defining the character of the Victorian railway network.