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James Shugg was a 12-year-old Hobart schoolboy when he first visited the Ida Bay Railway in Tasmania's far south in 1976.
The narrow-gauge line, which had been used to haul limestone from nearby quarries to the coast, became a tourist railway soon after.
"For the next few years, once it was running as a tourist operation, I would come down on school holidays and weekends and do anything I could to support the operation," Mr Shugg said.
"By the time I was 16 I was driving trains all the way down to end of the line, doing the tourist talks, selling tickets, doing track work."
Now, Mr Shugg and 24 other heritage rail enthusiasts, who make up the Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society, are hoping to restore the century-old line and its rolling stock.
James Shugg says the operation could be running this summer in a limited circuit.(ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)The society has asked the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS), the site's caretaker, if it can take responsibility for the bush tramway.
"From within our own resources we've found enough funds to get a third of the track restored to safety accreditation standard and be able to run small tours in the coming summer, if we're given permission," the society's secretary, Dave Collins, said.
He said he expected the entire 7 kilometres of track could be back in use and comply with safety standards within a few years.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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