Push Gathers Steam to Restore a Historic Loco
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A Queensland council has revealed a $2 million budget blow out for the restoration of one of the state's iconic steam trains.
The Mary Valley Rattler steam train has been off the tracks since 2012 after two derailments and track damage.
Since then, extensive work has been underway on the train and parts of the 40km track in order to get the tourism drawcard back on the track and tooting its way through the picturesque Mary Valley.
The Gympie Regional Council has approved the latest funding boost, taking the total cost to $14.5 million.
Mayor Mick Curran said it was disappointing that the initial costs were inaccurate.
"Unfortunately that expenditure is an extra $2 million to our budget, but what that will do is ensure we deliver a viable, safe and well constructed set of infrastructure," he said.
"We went out to rail expertise to do a full assessment of the track and the bridges, we received a price from them and unfortunately once works commenced there was further work found."
The project has been plagued by delays and a track and structures inspection report in August highlighted concerns about the deterioration of a number of bridges that needed to be replaced.
[/color] Parts of the 40km track on which the Mary Valley Rattler travels has had to be upgraded since 2012 after derailments and flood damage. [color=#666666][size=1](Facebook: Mary Valley Rattler)[/size][/color][/color][/size]
The delivery of a steam locomotive to Gympie was also delayed after Queensland Rail located a fault with the engine.
Gympie Regional Councillor Hilllary Smerdon said he thought the refurbishment project was damned from the start.
"I've always sort of supported the rattler. I think it's probably good for the region but we started at $10.8 million for the budget and we arrived at that figure without any real close inspections of infrastructure, no physical inspections of bridges," he said.
"You can't work out a budget without actually knowing what's involved to reinstate the infrastructure that's there.
"I think we should have had a more detailed investigation of all the infrastructure that was there and had a better look at what we had to do and get it closer to the mark."
[/color] The Mary Valley Rattler is undergoing an extensive overhaul. [color=#666666][size=1](Facebook: Mary Valley Rattler)[/size][/color][/color][/size]
Cr Smerdon said he was unsure of the financial benefit to the community.
"It takes $14.5 million to get it onto the rails and from then on it's going to require maintenance and is it going to be a viable operation is it going to be able to pay for it's own maintenance or is council going to be responsible for the maintenance forevermore?" he said.
"I can see the benefits on the tourism side but a lot of those benefits are for Sunshine Coast businesses."
[/color] The rattler meanders through 40km of the picturesque Mary Valley. [color=#666666][size=1](Facebook: Mary Valley Rattler)[/size][/color][/color][/size]
Mayor Mick Curran said he was confident that the Mary Valley Heritage Railway would reopen in June 2018.
"We're very confident now that we do have the final cost and that the rattler will be up and running in autumn of next year.
"It's a project that will be well received by the community and whilst we do have some naysayers and some angst out there around the cost when you look back at the history of the project it was a major drawcard."
[/color] The C17 class locomotive was shipped to Australia from England in 1927. [color=#666666][size=1](Facebook: Mary Valley Rattler)[/size][/color][/color][/size]
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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