Myself and a number of others got up to Tailem Bend Depot to meet Steve Moritz and have a look around the former roundhouse depot on the weekend.
It is not a pretty sight. Most people would have seen the pictures over the last few years of the destruction done by vandals.
As not much has ever been said 'officially' about what is happening or supposed to happen, I thought its about time some proper facts dispelled the rumours and at least let everyone know the situation.
The Carriages are mostly up for sale. SteamRail has expressed interest in some. The condition varies- most of them have been almost completely graffiti covered over, some are still presentable inside to a reasonable extent. At least the vandals have not been able to get into some as the doors have proved difficult to get into for them.
The locomotives are a sad sight. 907 is on blocks and the worse off of the two mechanically. Furthermore, there is a possibility it may be sold and shipped to England- a group rebuilding the English Electric diesel LMS 10000, which has common parts, have visited and expressed interest in acquiring it. apart from that, it may end up as scrap if it cannot be restored or sold.
909 is on the way to standard gauge conversion. The new standard gauge bogies are ready to go under it. Mechanically there is a lot of work to be done. Progress has been made on acquiring a computer link up from the UK which can make EE locos talk to Alcos and other types. Due to new safety demands they've had to shell out for a bulletproof windscreen which has cost over $7k. Steve is adamant that even if 907 may have to be let go he will not let 909 go easily.
Overall nearly $200k has been spent on the locos since they've arrived. A great deal has been undone by copper thieves and vandals. While their power car was on hire to SCT all funds from that were used on the restoration but this is no longer the case.
Steve is realistic that the work is now beyond his own financial and practical abilities and those of his small group. he believes the only way that things can now move forward is if a non-profit group can be formed to take over and volunteers found. He is not getting his hopes up- there is little local interest or understanding , and most other SA organizations are short on volunteers/members.
They have already been offered help from another organization to help put a full train together- all it would take is one fully operational carriage according to Steve.
We also talked the recent Wine Train movement and learnt that there is a few good signs happening on the owners end with wineries and corporate sponsors coming on board rapidly.
I would suggest anyone who is vaguely interested in helping should get in touch soon, time is not on anyones side in this case. Please PM me for Steve's contact details. I don't have a connection with the group apart from repaying their generosity in having us to visit.