TAMWORTH and Kootingal enjoyed the sounds of a steam train’s whistle at the weekend with thousands taking a trip back in time.
The 3642 steamed into Tamworth on Saturday morning attracting thousands of onlookers and 3500 passengers across Saturday and yesterday.
Transport Heritage NSW CEO Andrew Killingsworth said the train had carried about 4000 passengers on its visit to the North West including a run to Narrabri on Friday.
“We were hoping for a response like this and we were hoping the community would respond well,” he said.
“We’ll certainly be back. While we carried 4000 people, we’ve impressed plenty more and we’ve had a huge amount of goodwill – beside the track, at the station.”
Bringing the train here is no mean feat, involving 300 volunteers bringing it 500km from where the train is based at Thirlmere, south of Sydney.
“It’s a remarkable feat when you think about it,” Mr Killingsworth said.
“Something that is 88 years old and is still running. The engine has been running almost continuously and it’s a good old work horse. That’s a tribute to the craftsmen and those who built it.”
Mr Killingsworth said it was Transport Heritage NSW’s mission to engage with, and work with, the community and they had achieved that at the weekend. He said the attraction of the steam train was the mixture of nostalgia and adventure it afforded the community.
“For the kids, it’s the thrill of the new and they’ve all heard of Thomas the Tank Engine, so it’s about seeing it in the flesh,” he said.
“For older people, it’s about nostalgia and we had people on the train and the station talking about when these trains came through Tamworth. We’re an authentic museum that travels.”
The engine and carriages are not replicas, they are the authentic rolling stock that used to haul the mail train through Tamworth.
For the school students who had an excursion on the train on Friday, Mr Killingsworth said their excitement was evident in the smiles on their faces.
“It’s the pure adventure and excitement and also about the educational capacity of things like this because we brought history to them,” he said.