'Whole community effort' to get Australiana Pioneer Village Express Train running again

THE Australiana Pioneer Village (APV) Express Train has been up and running for a few weeks since lying idle for over a decade, and the team at the APV wanted to thank the numerous volunteers involved in refurbishing the locomotive.

APV volunteer Rob Stalley said there were over 30 community members involved in refurbishing the train, and it took over 12 months once they "really got going".

In terms of community efforts, it was a massive one, and the APV enlisted the help not only of local residents, but also engineers, and locomotive experts from farther afield.

"APV volunteer Ron Ross was instrumental in the project, and he put in the most hours in terms of ripping up the old track and putting down the new track," Mr Stalley said.

He enlisted the help of State Rail volunteers Neil Finey, Jack Wallace, Geoff Snedden and his son Quinn, who travelled up to Wilberforce from down south on their days off to help out.

"These guys were the brains behind track preparation, laying the sleepers, laying the track, levelling the track, elevating the track on the corners, installing the points and track certification," said Mr Stalley.

"They're associated with the Thirlmere Rail Museum and they were absolutely terrific."

Volunteers from the Hawkesbury Men's Shed restored the carriages and worked on the railway bogeys, attune to "hundreds of hours of work".

Local locomotive engineers Phil Jurd and Wayne Batson restored the locomotive, while local civil engineer Matthew Zahra from Circle Z Design donated his time to obtain the engineering certificate for earthworks, bridges, retaining walls, tunnel and handrails.

Graham Swanson from Lake Macquarie Light Rail provided the driver training, track running and locomotive specifications.

Mr Stalley said the list of people involved was exhaustive and these were only some of the volunteers who gave up their time to get the Pioneer Express Train running again.

"Everyone was absolutely fantastic, giving up their time to put this train back on. It's a great thing for the people of the Hawkesbury and even greater Sydney to come to pioneer Village to ride the Pioneer Express Train," he said.

He said since the train was re-launched at the Country Fair at the end of May, the APV had had "tremendous response" to it.

"Attendance is up in the Village. It's a great thing for tourism in the area," he said.

"It's been a tremendous community project with lots of volunteers who have contributed in so many ways."