Full steam ahead for train's return
A BAND of devoted steam train enthusiasts who spent years reviving a classic machine are now inviting Ipswich residents to take a ride.
The big blue PB 15 steam engine - built in Maryborough in 1908 - was purchased by the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway (QPSR) for a modest $8000 in 1977.
It went to Redbank, before going to Blackstone to do the run between Box Flat and Swanbank, but in early 1998 was taken out of service because of a defective boiler.
QPSR chairman and passionate train driver, Andrew Rogers, said a team of 10 volunteer engineers and drivers began restoration of the 101-year-old locomotive in June 2007.
“We took it for testing last Sunday - we had to do time trials to make sure it could keep up with our schedule and we also did some driver training,” Mr Rogers said.
“I can tell you the first day I rolled this thing out of the shed and drove it out I wanted to go and celebrate with a rum - it was exhilarating and brought smiles to a lot of people's faces.
“There have been a lot of people waiting to see this come back to life - including the public.”
The locomotive will take up to seven cars and 300 passengers at a time on the hour-and-ten-minute trip between Swanbank and the Bundamba Racecourse on the first and third Sunday of every month.
And while the old girl may look a little sluggish out of the blocks, she can reach a top speed of about 80pkh.
“I'd say to the public that they should come out and have a look,” Mr Rogers said.
“We've got a second steam engine in there and occasionally we make it a double head - just to make it a bit more exciting.
“There's not too many railways in this vicinity, besides Queensland Rail, that can run two steam engines at once so we're actually privileged.”
For more information phone the QPSR on 0417 764 247.