Point trains nearly full steam ahead
The return of a popular steam train to the Pleasant Point railway is imminent, four years after it was taken off the rails for maintenance.
The AB699 steam train, built in Coromandel in 1922, and a D16 steam train, built in Scotland in 1878, both underwent part of a 10 yearly boiler inspection at the Pleasant Point railway on Friday.
Locomotive engineer super- visor Dowell McLeod travelled from Christchurch to conduct maintenance on the trains. McLeod began the boiler inspection on the AB699 four years ago, but the job had been unexpectedly delayed due to family commitments.
That meant the train was out of action for a lot longer than expected, however, the D16 train continued to operate during its absence.
SGS New Zealand boiler inspector Neville Simpson travelled from Invercargill to assist McLeod on Friday, and said both trains had had their water pressure tested, and had passed the first two steps in a three-step process.
They hoped to have the final step completed and both trains certified as soon as possible.
‘‘It would be good to have the D16 going by Queen’s Birthday, ‘‘ McLeod said.
The AB699 required a bit of extra maintenance and would hopefully be running in three month’s time, McLeod said.
Simpson said both trains were in good condition for their age and had been well maintained .
‘‘It’s fascinating to think that the people who built them would be very surprised to know that they’re still operating. That’s just testament to a magnificent design and workmanship,’’ Simpson said.
Members of the Pleasant Point Railway and Historical Society were ‘‘very excited’’ the AB699 would be back on the tracks for the society’s steam up days, member Bill Noble said.