City leaders drive trains
The little railway that could celebrated the opening of its new $230,000 shed and workshop in Palmerston North on Saturday, allowing Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith and MP Iain LeesGalloway to have a turn driving the trains.
The Esplanade Scenic Railway, which carried 67,000 passengers through the gardens in 2015, has been working and fundraising since 2000 to replace a 35-year-old shed where it stored its miniature trains.
Vice president Grant Taylor said the project was a significant one for the volunteer organisation, and not without its obstacles.
‘‘Just as the building commenced, all of the engines in our locomotives were found to be on their last legs, after 17 years of service. This created a catastrophic situation that came very close to threatening the financial security of the railway.’’
The railway achieved its busiest year for passenger numbers in 2015 since its opening in 1969, also winning the supreme award at the 2015 Trustpower Palmerston North community awards.
It was also stung with aIts $17,500 development contributions bill prompted the council to set up a special fund to provide some assistance to community groups with paying those bills.