FINE weather and clear conditions over the last few weeks have helped the Valley Rattler recover patronage levels and go on with infrastructure work that had been delayed by bad weather.
Mary Valley Heritage Railway manager Jim Walker said the organisation was investing in new infrastructure and facilities to make efficiencies in ongoing maintenance programs.
The Rattler is the major heritage tourist attraction for the Sunshine Coast, operating steam train tours from Gympie through the Mary Valley three days a week. The trains are operated by volunteers and supported by paid maintenance and admin staff. “The Rattler has had challenges over the last two years,” Mr Walker said.
“Starting with fire bans in 2009 followed by the heaviest monsoon season for 35 years and now the tourism slump, all having an impact on trade and our reserves.
“MVHR has made operating profits for the last four months but with patronage still down 15% through our good earning period of winter to spring, there are concerns for the next low season of summer to autumn 2012, particularly if we have bad weather events.
“Surveys and feedback have identified a large number of people in the region who are aware of the Rattler, who have heard good reports of a relaxing and different day out and who are definitely going to ride the Rattler ‘one day’ – but haven’t done it yet.”
Mr Walker invited future passengers to make that one day a day this month or in the near future.
Book to ride the Rattler at the Tozer St office, or get some friends together and ask about the Rattler’s 20% off for groups of 10 or more.