YMCA nearly ready to roll
The Hawke’s Bay YMCA hopes to be carrying youngsters in its own railway carriages to Opoutama by next summer, bringing to fruition a project that has taken four-and-a-half years.
Executive director Dennis Oliver said conversion of the two former guard vans into 23-seat carriages had cost $120,000 so far, with the final cost likely to reach $169,000.
The YMCA was looking for sponsors for 30 seats and tables, and for space on the exterior walls.
Work on the carriages has been carried out at McDonald Engineering, Havelock North, by four Task Force Green teams, under the supervision of Angus Cornelius, Roadair.
There were several options for towing the carriages when they ready for service, said Mr Oliver. A locomotive could be hired from Tranz-Rail as needed, or a steam engine could be used. The Gisborne Vintage Rail Society was also restoring a “puffing billy” locomotive and two carriages. The locomotive could be available for hire.
Each seat in the YMCA’s carriages seats two people, making them suitable for a wide range of uses apart from taking children to camp, said Mr Oliver. During the Hawke’s Bay show weekend, the “puffing billy” loco could be used to tow the carriages back and forth between Napier and Hastings.
One of the carriages has reached the stage of having windows fitted. The other will be ready for that in several weeks.
“The end is in sight,” said Mr Oliver.
Photo caption – From left are Task Force Green workers Jason Donaldson, Tom Potts, Barry Wong, Mr Cornelius, Mr Oliver, Jason Dolden, Jeff Kirk and Retimana Te Awa.