Society is full steam ahead
Paekakariki- based Steam Incorporated will celebrate 40 years of restoring and operating steam trains this month.
The society will be holding open days on July 21 and 22.
The engine shed will be open to visitors and train rides will be available.
Steam Incorporated has four steam and three main line diesel locomotives in its care, as well as enough carriages to operate a 500-seat train.
It has its own licence to operate on the national rail network, which its members are proud of, said publicity officer Clive Thompson.
It’s a far cry from when the first engine arrived on site, he said, when they were only trusted to run it on a short length of track outside the shed.
‘‘ When the founding members formed the society in 1972 to try and save some of the last steam engines, they were met with suspicion and ridicule by the authorities.
‘‘ Many at the time believed that maintaining and operating steam railway engines was beyond the ability of amateurs,’’ Mr Thompson said.
The society soon bought several second- hand carriages and in 1982 it operated its first excursion on the main line, to Taihape.
Although there have been difficult times, the society has gone from strength to strength, he said.
‘‘In 1993 the train was used by Cadbury as part of a series of promotions for Crunchie bars and more recently it’s been a regular feature of the annual Art Deco festival in Napier.’’
The Steam Incorporated vintage train with its red carriages is a familiar site throughout country.
There are few parts of the network the train has not visited over the years, including almost all of the South Island system, said Mr Thompson.
On August 23, the anniversary of the society’s incorporation, there will be a dinner for existing and former members.