GISBORNE HERALD ARTICLE Monday, September 26th 2011:


By Jared Sheehan

GISBORNE Vintage Rail Society unveiled their latest completed project on Saturday by hauling out their newly restored carriage for all to see.

It has been a labour of love for volunteers at the society, painstakingly working on the 32-seater over the last six years.

Refurbishings include seats which were sourced from the Hutt railway workshop. Originally these seats were used in railcars in Perth, Australia.  They are reversible which allows passengers to choose which way they face. They also provide plenty of room for those with awkwardly long legs.

The superb woodwork on the carriage was crafted by Les Watson using recycled red-beach timber.

The carriage has a shop area which will be used for selling tea, snacks and souvenirs during an excursion although, due to safety considerations, hot drinks will only be served when the train is stationary at picnic stops says treasurer Dale Smith.

While the carriage is vintage in style and appearance, it has a few mod-con additions for passenger comfort and safety.

Two air-conditioning units will keep the carriage at a comfortable temperature. Low voltage LED lights powered by rechargeable batteries have been fitted.  The batteries are kept constantly charged by the on-board generator and, in the event of the generator being shut down, will keep the lights at full brightness for many hours.

Barriers have been installed around the open end platforms of the carriage so passengers can safely ride in the open air if they wish, says Mrs. Smith.

Engineer Joe Campbell says that all the brake gear was stripped down, checked and new parts made and fitted where necessary.

Gisborne Car Club volunteers rubbed down all the external surfaces and masked off all the windows prior to painting.  The external painting was done by Brian Scott.

Originally the carriage was a guards van and was purchased in the 90s by the Napier YMCA, who started the conversion.  They never completed the project and when they went into liquidation, Gisborne City Vintage Railway Society jumped at the chance to buy the carriage in 2005.  At the time of purchase all the new steel work had been completed and the windows fitted says Mr. Campbell.  The carriage should come into service early in the New Year after its main line certification which is scheduled to take place in mid November.

The Society will make its first public passenger trip on 26 November, using the historical 38-tonne WA165 Steam engine, which was built in 1897 at the Hillside workshops in Dunedin.

There will be plenty of opportunities to take a scenic trip as summertime rolls around and the train wheels really get rolling.

At full capacity with three carriages loaded behind WA165, it can carry 127 passengers, with the new carriage adding an additional 32 seats when it comes into use.

The society would like to acknowledge the support of the following organizations:

Eastland Community Trust who supplied the funding for the original purchase.  Eastland and Central Community Trust and Sovereign Pub Charity who provided funding for the exterior painting and interior floor, wall and ceiling linings.

BOOKING a seat for a voyage on the vintage rail service has never been easier with a new website now available.

While it might sound slightly ironic to have vintage and website in the same sentence, it is going to be a tremendous asset for the vintage rail society says volunteer helper, Claire Campbell.

She says 75 percent of passengers over previous years have been tourists, some of them coming from the cruise ships that dock in the bay, the others being both national and international travelers.

The website has a number of features including history of the unique Wa165 Steam Engine, information on how to book a trip and a gallery showing the steam engine in all it’s glory through both photos and film.

The website was designed by Claire and Joe Campbell in conjunction with Russell Holland of EC Solutions.


Posted: Monday 26 September 2011


Tickets can be purchased from the i-Site Gisborne Information Centre in Grey Street (Ph: 06 868 6139). Any remaining tickets will be available for sale at the Gisborne Railway Station 30 minutes before departure.

Boarding the Train

The train leaves from the Gisborne Railway Station. Please arrive 15 minutes before the departure time shown.

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