21 April 2010

Commuters relive rail glory days as steam trains run again on the Ipswich line


IT HAS been more than 40 years since steam trains took passengers  between Ipswich and Brisbane, but commuters are reliving the glory days  of the railways.

The steam train rolls into Ipswich station after its first journey.

IT HAS been more than 40 years since steam trains took passengers along the suburban line between Ipswich and Brisbane, but commuters have this week been reliving the glory days of the railways.

As part of a driver-training program, Queensland Rail is this week running three steam train services, stopping all stations from Ipswich to Shorncliffe.

The first of the three services chugged out of Ipswich station about 9.12am Monday, with the carriages nearly full by the time the train reached Goodna station.

A few dozen passengers were still on the grand old green girl when she huffed and puffed into Ipswich station just before 2.30pm Monday.

Ipswich couple Nev and Elaine McInally, who rode the train all the way to Shorncliffe and back, said they had a great time reminiscing about the good old days.

"I used to be a station master at Toogoolawah, which of course isn't there anymore," Mr McInally said.

"We made a snap decision to jump on the train today and we are glad we did it."

Tim and Dianne Harris drove all the way from Toowoomba to take the steam train trip on Monday.

"We are steam train enthusiasts," Mrs Harris said.

"It was a very pleasant trip and a lot of the other passengers seemed to be pleasantly surprised to learn what it is like to ride a steam train.

"The price of a return ticket was also very reasonable – I think it only cost us $9 or $10."

Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said the program coincided with the first driver-training school since 1997.

She said three drivers would graduate from the school, followed by another three to graduate in May.

"The train drivers in this school are already very experienced passenger-train drivers who, over the years, have become firemen on our steam trains. For them, this is the next step," Ms Nolan said.

The service departs Ipswich station at 9.12am today, stopping all stations to arrive at Shorncliffe at 11.20am.

It will then depart Shorncliffe station at 12.18pm, terminating at Ipswich at 2.24pm, stopping all stations.

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