SHARE
Problem solvers . . . Oamaru Steam and Rail Society engineer John Paul (left) and general manager Harry Andrew do some maintenance on one of the groups' engines. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

If you have felt inspired by the efforts of local volunteers during Volunteer Week – head down to the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society and see Harry Andrew.

The society needs volunteers to continue running its Sunday passenger service, which runs from the Harbourside Station through the Victorian Precinct to the Quarry Siding Station at the end of Waterfront Rd.

Mr Andrew, who is the group’s general manager, said it could sometimes be difficult to find the minimum four assistant guards that the train needed to run.

The only prerequisite for the role of assistant guard was to undergo a basic medical test.

“That is where we start people off, clipping tickets and keeping an eye on the passengers to make sure everyone is OK.

“It is a good way to get introduced to the group and see how we do things, and then they can get involved in the other things we do.”

And there is plenty to do.

The next major project for the society is preparing the track out to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony for passenger trains – specifically one coming to Oamaru from Dunedin as a part of the International Penguin Conference in August.

The Oamaru Steam and Rail Society is made up of a wide range of people, from people looking to learn new engineering skills, to those who just like to come down for “a cuppa and a chat”, he said.

“We currently have someone in Dunedin that is looking at being able to grant accreditations for mechanical and engineering skills for people who want those qualifications.

“We provide the training and it could be very useful for someone if they are looking for a job later on in life.

“Anyone can come along, some people come here and don’t know how to hold a paintbrush, but they soon get stuck in.”

The Sunday rides provided a valuable source of income for the society, for which the biggest cost is compliance.

“Trains are a great way to travel; kids can get up and run around. You can’t do that in a car or plane.”

Mr Andrew said anyone who wanted to get involved could come down to the society’s workshop, located behind Steampunk HQ, on Wednesdays at 9.55am.

“That is when the smoko bell goes off, we are very unionised here – although they can go for a long time.

“It is a fun club, we have plenty of jokes, look after each other and learn some new skills.”