Full steam ahead for minia­ture train

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - STAFF RE­PORTER

An old favourite is set to re­turn to the minia­ture train track in Master­ton’s Queen El­iz­a­beth Park.

A hit with the young and old for sev­eral decades the steam en­gine was lifted off the tracks in 2008 for re­pairs and main­te­nance. It hasn’t re­turned since.

All go­ing to plan the lo­co­mo­tive is sched­uled to be back pulling car­riages of happy pas­sen­gers in time for the sum­mer, ac­cord­ing to Master­ton Minia­ture Train So­ci­ety spokes­woman Kim Siemonek.

The so­ci­ety has re­cently been granted $10,000 from the Trust House Foun­da­tion to help fund the pro­ject.

The minia­ture train track, around an is­land in Queen El­iz­a­beth Park, was built by the Jaycees in 1972. Com­plete with a steam en­gine, (orig­i­nally from Gis­borne), it be­came a popular at­trac­tion for res­i­dents and visi­tors to town.

A rou­tine com­pli­ance check of the en­gine in 2008, spot­ted some is­sues re­sult­ing in it be­ing taken out of ser­vice. A cat­a­logue of chal­lenges - in­clud­ing the re­quire­ment of a new boiler - have de­layed the en­gine re­turn­ing to duty. But, fi­nally, there is light at the end of the tun­nel for lo­co­mo­tive No.74.

‘‘Ba­si­cally we have had to fully re­build the en­gine, and to get it cer­ti­fied takes a long time,’’ Siemonek said.

Cur­rently sit­ting in Or­mond Engi­neer­ing in Ed­win Feist Place, the steam en­gine is close to be­ing ready to re­sume work again, with one fi­nal push for fund­ing needed.

All up the so­ci­ety have spent around $75,000 on the pro­ject, $20,000 of which has come from Master­ton Dis­trict Coun­cil.

It is money well spent given the level of in­ter­est in the Master­ton Minia­ture Rail­way, lo­cally and na­tion­ally, Siemonek said.

‘‘We have mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple com­ing back to Master­ton just to go on the train, as they did when they were chil­dren,’’ she said.

The red diesel en­gine that cur­rently works the tracks does a ‘‘bril­liant job’’, and will con­tinue to do so.

‘‘There is some­thing re­ally spe­cial about a steam en­gine though. When peo­ple see the steam they come run­ning over . . . it cre­ates a sense of real ex­cite­ment.’’

Master­ton Minia­ture Rail­way So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Gary Esler said the steam en­gine is un­doubt­edly the hero of the set-up.

So­ci­ety mem­bers check out the steam en­gine.

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