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Back on Track – Full Steam Ahead For Kingston Flyer

Media Release from The Kingston Flyer
30 December 2012

Back on Track – Full Steam Ahead For Kingston Flyer

The iconic Kingston Flyer near Queenstown is back on track and “all steam ahead” after temporarily suspending operations earlier this month.

In early December owner David Bryce – who bought the historic train 18 months ago -- suspended trips due to issues relating to a boiler on the engine operating at the time.

Now engine AB795 has been given the green light by boiler and mechanical inspectors and Mr Bryce couldn’t be happier.

“We’ve just got some final touches to sign off on following a huge day with the inspectors last Friday and a track inspection, then as a very heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the people of Kingston we’ll build up a great head of steam and give the old girl a good run at 6pm on New Year’s Eve for those locals and any visitors wishing to take the experience.

“We’ll take them out to Fairlight where they can enjoy a BBQ picnic to celebrate the end of 2012 and look forward to years of continued operation with the restored engine from the start of 2013. It really is a case of ‘All aboard, toot toot!’ and I’m thrilled.”

Mr Bryce said the first commercial trip would run at 10am on Friday January 4, with the only anticipated break in operations being the morning of Sunday January 6, when over 300 runners and walkers from all over New Zealand and Australasia are expected to race the Flyer from Fairlight to Kingston.

Race organiser Adrian Bailey of Active QT said “lots of people” would be very happy to hear the news that the Kingston Flyer was back on track for the New Balance Race The Train event.

“The first event attracted more than two hundred participants, and this year we’ve got runners coming from all over Australasia, so it’s promising to be a huge line-up of professionals and social runners and a great event,” he said.

“Friends and supporters can ride the train cheering the competitors onto the finish line, and the atmosphere’s just fantastic. We can’t wait.”

Mr Bryce said while it had been “extremely disappointing” to have had to suspend operations while repairs continued on the second engine, he knew when he bought the Flyer that he was making an investment for longevity.

“This was always about ensuring the future of our history,” he said.

Mr Bryce said bookings for the summer season were still strong as the ‘Old Girl’ rolled into her second season, from visitors, locals, groups and schools. All bookings made before the suspension of operations will proceed as normal.

“Many groups and businesses in particular love to be ‘held up’ by our friendly group of horse-riding local ‘cowboys’ with guns blazing,” he said. “People never tire of re-enacting the famous Cadbury ‘Crunchie Bar’ commercial.”

Friends of the Flyer concession cards continue to prove extremely popular since they were introduced in September.
Train lovers can buy a ‘Friends of the Flyer’ card for just $65 to support continued restoration and upkeep of the Flyer and her tracks. The card entitles holders to a 50% discount on up to 10 regular fares, and complimentary tea and coffee on board the train.

For more information on the Kingston Flyer go to www.kingstonflyer.co.nz

For New Balance Race the Train information and registration see: www.activeqt.co.nz

About The Kingston Flyer

The Kingston Flyer is New Zealand's famous vintage steam train set in the spectacular mountain scenery of the Queenstown Lakes District. When gold was discovered in the Wakatipu district in 1862 the need to connect the district by steamships and steam trains became apparent. The railway line at last reached Kingston on July 10, 1878 and a public holiday was declared by Queenstown Borough and Lake County Councils.

The express passenger steam train known as "The Flyer" serviced Kingston-Gore on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Kingston-Invercargill on Tuesdays and Thursdays from the 1890's. During peak holiday periods she also carried passengers from Dunedin to Kingston to meet up with Lake Wakatipu steamboats connecting with the popular holiday destination of Queenstown.

The service was replaced by buses and passenger numbers declined through the 1950's. The final Kingston Flyer operated during the Easter holiday of 1957. Trains continued to run on the Waimea Plains Railway until 31 March 1971.

The New Zealand Government came up with a plan to save the historic steam train and funded its restoration in 1971. The atmosphere of the 1920's was retained and remains today featuring polished brass and steel work, white tyres, red fluted side rods, and glossy black paintwork.

The Kingston Flyer heritage service between Kingston and Lumsden continued until 1979. Today the service covers a 14km stretch of track between Kingston and Fairlight. The rails are the originals laid in 1878 but many of the 19,360 sleepers have been replaced.

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