TOOT TOOT: The future of Mitchell's historic steam train will be put to vote tomorrow.
TOOT TOOT: The future of Mitchell's historic steam train will be put to vote tomorrow. Molly Hancock

Rural town to vote on gifting Ipswich a steam train

THE final stop for Mitchell's iconic steam train could be Ipswich as Maranoa councillors prepare to vote tomorrow on the locomotive's future.

At the last general meeting Maranoa Regional Council received a proposal from the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway Co-operative Ltd seeking to relocate the historic locomotive currently sitting in the Mitchell Memorial Park.

QPSRC spokesman, Robert Shearer, told the Western Star, the Ipswich-based train organisation would work to restore the locomotive back to its former glory.

"It is wasting its potential where it is currently located - not because it is not important to people of Mitchell but because its condition is deteriorating quickly beyond economic restoration," Mr Shearer said.

"Rust is culminating and, once it goes down into the vital components, restoration would become unfeasible if it sits there for another five years and terminal in 10."

 

The Mitchell Memorial Park locomotive 200+ C17 Class was built in 1927.
The Mitchell Memorial Park locomotive 200+ C17 Class was built in 1927. Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway

Tomorrow the nine councillors will vote on a motion put by Mayor Tyson Golder at the last meeting to include a clause that would allow the council to buy back the locomotive after 10 years instead of losing the train for good.

Mr Shearer said the buyback price might be prohibitive and, once the clause was finalised, it would go back to the membership of the railway and see if it was within the scope of what the volunteers were willing to undertake.

"The membership usually considers funding streams and operating life versus cost of restoration and it should be noted it may take up to five to six years to restore, leaving it with a very short time in QPSR operation before being optioned back to council," he said.

When tourism Cr Puddy Chandler was asked if losing the train would be a significant loss, she said it was and the Mitchell community needed to ensure it received a valuable exchange for it.

"It's part of Mitchell's history, it is undervalued and, from a tourism perspective, it is an asset to the region," Cr Chandler said.

Mr Shearer said QPSR understood Mitchell was sacrificing a lot and wanted to look at ways of sharing steam and rail heritage with the community.



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