New home needed for vintage railway stock

THE Southland District Council (SDC) is calling for expressions of interest from suitably experienced organisations prepared to lease vintage railway stock and display it to the public.
It was hoped two wooden carriages, a guard’s van and a diesel locomotive shunter would be restored and displayed, along with information about the rolling stock’s original owner, the Ohai Railway Board, community partnership leader Kelly Tagg said.
‘‘They are really nice assets. Given their high heritage value… council would like to see them displayed so people can enjoy [them] and learn about the history of the railway board.’’
The board was formed in 1916 to build and operate a railway line from Wairio, near Nightcaps, to the Ohai coalfields. It became part of the SDC in 1989. The line closed in 1990 and in 1992 the line, land and buildings were sold to the NZ Railways Corporation, now KiwiRail.
Mrs Tagg said the rolling stock and other assets were looked after by the Ohai Railway Board Heritage Trust railway preservation society, but that group had disbanded. KiwiRail now wanted the items removed from the Wairio sheds.
Since the proposal was advertised at the weekend there had already been inquiries, Mrs Tagg said.
While displaying the items in Southland was the goal, they might leave the district, she said.
‘‘If a group such as Ferrymead in Christchurch wanted them and submitted a proposal, it would be considered.’’
Expressions of interest close on June 7.

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