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Glenreagh Mountain Railway gathering up steam for a reopening

OUT OF PUFF: Students look at one of the locomotives at the Glenreagh Mountain Railway
OUT OF PUFF: Students look at one of the locomotives at the Glenreagh Mountain Railway

PLANS to reopen the Glenreagh Mountain Railway are gaining momentum, but it could be some time before "Betty", aka Locomotive 1919, is puffing proudly down the track again.

GMR president Stephen Joyce is driving the vision, along with a small team of dedicated volunteers.

Mr Joyce hopes to achieve a tourist railway to rival the Kuranda Scenic Railway in north Queensland.

"When you take a drive up the forest tracks, it's magical scenery up there - you can see all the way to Coffs Harbour," he said.

"The only thing standing in our way is labour and money."

Despite having an A-list Hollywood actor as a supporter, namely Russell Crowe, membership has dwindled in the past six years since the once-popular tourist railway was forced to close in 2008.

Mr Crowe is one of about 50 members, yet fewer than 10 are active.

Mr Joyce said regular working bees helped maintain the track, keeping vegetation at bay.

Lowanna Station had also benefited from a Work for the Dole crew.

Yet there were still many sleepers in need of replacement and bridges in need of repair and this would require a labour of love.

"If we could get enough people out there - boilermakers, tradies, labourers - we could start making things happen," he said.

But the next step is to gain accreditation on rolling stock and approval to run trikes and track machines to carry out repair work.

"We're waiting on finalisation of accreditation from the Office of National Rail Safety and we've been busy writing up policies and procedures to make sure we're compliant."

"We've submitted our business plan to three councils but we're waiting for them to come back to us on that," Mr Joyce said.

The plan includes a concept to develop a rail park, complete with zip lines and flying foxes.

"Unfortunately many of the businesses have been affected. The bakery has closed its doors, other shops have closed and the pub has lost money," Mr Joyce said.

"We want people to know we're still out here and if anyone can lend a hand, we'll find something for you to do."

 A new website will be available in June or search on Facebook.

Topics:  glenreagh



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