Lit­tle train back on track

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By LIZ WYLIE

The minia­ture train is once again cir­cling the Aotea La­goon and small pas­sen­gers and their par­ents could not be hap­pier.

Keith Ni­coll and Kevin Wright of Wai­tan­girua Lions Club can­not stop smil­ing, ei­ther.

When Kapi-Mana News caught up with Mr Ni­coll in Jan­uary, he was wait­ing for re­pairs to the train and tracks, and the kiosk be­side the la­goon had been van­dalised.

Five months on and the train had had ‘‘ the big­gest over­haul of its life’’, Mr Wright said.

Porirua City Coun­cil has com­pleted re­pairs to the track and tun­nel, as well as the bridge over the duck pond.

‘‘ They have re­placed rot­ten sleep­ers, re­in­forced the steel gird­ers on the bridge and re­moved loose stones on the tun­nel por­tals, which were a safety con­cern,’’ Mr Ni­coll said.

Both men are full of praise for ev­ery­one who helped – Porirua City Coun­cil; Kenepuru Engi­neers, which re­paired the train; and the Cor­rec­tions Depart­ment, which as­sisted with labour for the track re­pairs.

Jethro Mul­lens, Porirua coun­cil’s tech­ni­cal as­sets as­sis­tant, said he en­joyed over­see­ing the re­pair work.

‘‘We placed boards on to the re­paired tun­nel and have left it blank for the Lions club to paint what they like on it. I look for­ward to see­ing what they do.’’

The last hur­dle was a Cer­tifi­cate of Regis­tra­tion of an Amuse­ment De­vice from the Depart­ment of Labour, which has also ar­rived.

The re­fur­bished train had a ‘‘sur­prise’’ test run on Sun­day, June 23, and any­one who hap­pened to be at the la­goon was of­fered a free ride.

There were plenty of tak­ers and the Lions club es­ti­mated there were about 200 pas­sen­gers.

Cu­ri­ous pre- school­ers grav­i­tated to­wards the train and 3-year-old Char­lie Hobbs got to pose as an engine driver.

Char­lie’s mother, Michaela Hobbs, said she was pleased to see the train run­ning again.

‘‘We will be here of­ten,’’ she said.

The Lions club has been run­ning the train rides at the la­goon since 1978 and has col­lected about $20,000 for char­ity each year.

‘‘We missed the sum­mer sea­son this year, which was a shame, but we are op­ti­mistic about the next few months,’’ Mr Ni­coll said.

Photo: LIZ WYLIE

On board: Char­lie Hobbs, 3, takes con­trol while his mother, Michaela, and sis­ter, Elsa, 17 months,

wait to board.

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