It's been over 40 years since steam trains regularly graced the railway tracks of the Riverina. The once-familiar puff and toot of the locomotive might have all but been forgotten, but Heritage Express - a Sydney-based, not-for-profit operator of steam train journeys - is bringing steam back to southern NSW as part of an exciting 4-day tour from Thursday August 29 to Sunday September 1.
Legend of SteamTM locomotive 3642 - a locomotive with a southern NSW operational history - and a train of beautifully-restored passenger carriages, will be visiting the region as part of the Heritage Express regional outreach program. This program is designed to take steam trains to regions of country NSW that don't often see them and to provide local families a rare opportunity to ride on them.
The Legend of Steam tour will pass through many cities, towns and villages along the route, Sydney - Picton - Moss Vale - Goulburn - Cootamundra - Junee - Coolamon - Wagga Wagga - Uranquinty - Junee - Harden - Goulburn - Moss Vale - Sydney, during the 4 days it is touring the region.
"A steam train ride is a nostalgic journey into the past for those who remember them, and an exciting and educational experience for young families - offering unique views of their districts from railway lines that rarely see passenger trains" said Daniel Page, Operations Manager for Heritage Express, "The Legend of Steam tour fulfils Heritage Express's commitment to taking steam to country NSW for the benefit of the local communities", he added.
The train sets out from Sydney as the Riverina Steam SafariTM on Thursday, August 29, arriving in Cootamundra late the same day. Whilst in southern NSW, steam train rides will be available to the general public, from the following locations and dates:
- Friday August 30
- School Groups Day
- Journeys available from Junee to Coolamon and Harefield
- Saturday August 31
- Wagga Wagga Steam Train Rides
- Five return steam train rides to Uranquinty
- Sunday September 1
- Junee Fathers Day ExpressTM
- Journey from Junee to Harden by steam train, return by XPT
The train will set out on its return trip home, as the Harden Day TrainTM, Sunday, September 1. Full steam train ride information, fares and bookings are available by following the links from the ‘Tour & Events Schedule' at www.heritageexpress.com.au or by calling 02 9379 1110.
Because it has been many years since the last steam train visited many of the cities and towns on the tour's itinerary, Heritage Express is expecting significant interest to be shown by local residents wanting to travel on the train. Interested residents are therefore urged to book their tickets in advance, either via the online, secure booking service or by calling the Heritage Express booking office.Residents of the region can follow the progress of the Legend of Steam tours by joining the Heritage Express Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/HeritageExpress
Heritage Express is the tours and events operating arm of the NSW Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM) - a not-for-profit organisation established in 1962 for the purpose of collecting, preserving and presenting the railway heritage of NSW for the benefit of the community. NSWRTM has been a registered charity since 1971.
The NSWRTM has over 2200 members, including an active volunteer workforce of almost 400 and a small number of full-time staff who support the operation of Heritage Express tours and the ‘Trainworks' attraction at Thirlmere, located the lower Southern Highlands of NSW.
Legend of Steam locomotive 3642 (pronounced: ‘thirty-six, forty-two') was built for the NSW Government Railways in 1926 by The Clyde Engineering Company at Granville in Sydney. The ‘36 Class' of locomotive was famous for hauling the fastest express passenger trains in NSW during the 1920s and 30s. Following the introduction of more modern steam locomotives and, later, diesel-electric locomotives, many 36 Class locos worked from Goulburn and Junee Locomotive Depots for the haulage of goods and passenger trains to destinations such as Albury and Sydney. Locomotive 3642 was the last of the 36 Class locos still in regular use, finally being retired in 1969 after 43 years of active service.
In the four decades since, the locomotive has operated on heritage train tours to near and distant destinations - the furthest being to Whyalla, SA. Following a long period of unserviceability, locomotive 3642 was restored to working order in 2008 by the NSW Rail Transport Museum, Thirlmere. In the eight months to April 2012, the locomotive was given a full mechanical overhaul by the staff and volunteers of the Museum, significantly funded by generous monetary donations from Museum members, volunteers and supporters.
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