Scenic rail­way is ready to roll

The Tribune (NZ) - - HOLIDAY TIMES -

The Es­planade Scenic Rail­way is unique in the world. It al­ways runs on time.

The minia­ture rail­way, which is about to launch its daily hol­i­day ser­vice, runs con­sis­tently on time be­cause it doesn’t have a timetable.

When­ever there’s a queue of peo­ple, the rail­way will pick them up and take them on a de­light­ful scenic jour­ney through the na­tive bush and along­side the many at­trac­tions at the Es­planade.

From De­cem­ber 26 to Jan­uary 31, one of three diesel en­gines con­nected to four or five open car­riages leaves be­tween 11-5pm, seven days a week, weather per­mit­ting. The main sta­tion is at the Lido end of the Es­planade and it makes one stop at the chil­dren’s play­ground dur­ing the 20-minute jour­ney and then re­turns to the main sta­tion.

The $2.50 fare per per­son is flex­i­ble. Chil­dren and par­ents can get off at the play­ground, enjoy the at­trac­tions and then catch the train back for the same price.

Vice pres­i­dent Grant Tay­lor looks for­ward to the hol­i­day train ser­vice.

‘‘The Es­planade is a won­der­ful as­set to the city. It has bush walks, rose gar­dens, the up­graded chil­dren’s play­ground, a pad­dling pool, cafe and the scenic rail­way,’’ he says. ‘‘We’re part of the at­trac­tion and we of­fer the ser­vice both to Manawatu peo­ple and those vis­it­ing the city.’’

The 2.2 kilo­me­tre train ride takes peo­ple through some of the most dis­tinc­tive bush in the re­gion where pas­sen­gers can see bird and an­i­mal life such as tuis, wood pigeons and rab­bits.

To run such an at­trac­tion re­quires a ded­i­cated team. The Scenic Rail­way has about 60 vol­un­teers, sev­eral of whom have given more than 40 years’ ser­vice. In pay­ing trib­ute to them, Grant says the rail­way could al­ways do with more.

‘‘Here’s your chance to drive a train. We’d wel­come peo­ple to join the ros­ter and help with the run­ning and main­te­nance of the en­gines and car­riages,’’ he says.

The rail­way has three en­gines, each in their own dis­tinc­tive liv­ery. They have an orig­i­nal lo­co­mo­tive built in 1969 when the ser­vice be­gan and adorned in NZ Rail­ways colours. Of the other two, one is a grey, red and yel­low Ki­wiRail loco and the other is a pale blue 1997 Trans Rail loco.

The cost of the Scenic Rail­way re­lies on do­na­tions. Fund­ing has come from the Main­land Foun­da­tion, pub char­i­ties, lo­cal busi­nesses, the Cen­tral En­ergy Trust, Li­ons Foun­da­tion and pri­vate do­na­tions.

In the last Christ­mas hol­i­day sea­son about 10,000 peo­ple en­joyed the rides. This year Grant’s hop­ing even more peo­ple will come. ‘‘Come along, have a ride and take ad­van­tage of the Es­planade.’’

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