So­ci­ety is full steam ahead

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

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.

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