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A NEW West Coast Wilderness Railway trip called Footplate Experience is set to excite enthusiasts far and wide.
Passengers can hop into the cramped cabin and “drop the rag” to fire up the boiler, says general manager Anthony Brown.
“It’s for the puffer nutters who just love the railway and the steam engine,’’ Mr Brown said.
The passenger who fires the steam boiler will start from the very beginning of the trip at 6.30am.
They will help drive the train on the four-hour return Rack and Gorge trip into the untamed West Coast Wilderness, under the watchful eye of highly experienced train drivers including father and son Bob and James Smith.
The West Coast Wilderness Railway at Queenstown. Picture: CHRIS KIDDThe Smiths are a proud family of three generations of loco drivers born and bred in Queenstown.
“You don’t have to be a rail enthusiast to love it and at the same time many passengers have waited their whole lives to come here,” James said.
Locomotive number one’s engine is the first brought to Queenstown from Glasgow, Scotland, almost 120 years ago.
The trip includes a safety induction and a loan of overalls and cap. Passenger drivers get their own flask, mug and packed lunch and take part in a daily safety briefing before they help move the loco to Queenstown Station and have their photograph taken with the crew. Back at Queenstown they will have the opportunity to debrief with the crew.
The journey takes in the Rinadeena Saddle and King River Gorge.
Driver James Smith and fireman Bob Smith are happy to share their skills. Picture: CHRIS KIDD
This article first appeared on www.themercury.com.au
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