Tourist attraction returns after years off the rails
AS STEAM returned to the Mary Valley Rattler, train driver John Flynn felt an emotional reunion with the track he had navigated in the railway's previous life.
After more than six years off the rails, the heritage train and tourist attraction is ready to call "all aboard" to passengers at a carnival-like event on October 6.
The locomotive sets off from Gympie and journeys through to the Sunshine Coast township of Amamoor.
The locomotive was decommissioned in 2012 after two derailments and track damage. But more than $14.5 million in state and Gympie Council funds were since spent to get the track and train up to scratch.
At Wednesday's official launch, station manager Bob Buckley said they were given the green light from the rail safety regulator and were "ready to go".
"It's very comfortable, it took me back to when I was a child," he said.
Mr Flynn told he became the first to "take steam out" of the near-century-old locomotive, alongside a fireman and fellow senior driver.
"We got to Amamoor, we stopped, we looked at each other, we shook hands and we both had a tear in our eye," he said.
The project had been plagued with delays and a track structure inspection report in August highlighted concerns about the deterioration of a number of bridges that needed to be replaced.
The delivery of a steam locomotive to Gympie was also delayed after Queensland Rail located a fault with the engine.
The C17 class locomotive was shipped to Australian from England in 1927.
To celebrate its return, the Gympie Station on Tozer St will come alive from 8am with live entertainment and activities for kids on October 6 with First Run Day tickets including a welcome drink, gift bag and passenger certificate.
From Sunday, October 7, morning and afternoon services will run three days per week on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays with return journeys from the historic Gympie or Amamoor stations via Dagun.