Oamaru steam train trip sells out

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Come January 24 Oamaru can expect an influx of visitors.

The Steam Train “Jessica”, JA1240, has proved a hugely popular attraction for people of Dunedin with the trip to Oamaru selling out.

It will be the first time in close to 20 years that a steam train full of passengers has visited Oamaru.

In all 415 tickets were sold, and Kimberley McGregor, of Taieri Gorge Railways, said it’s very pleasing to have so many people interested in the train ride to Oamaru.

“We are all really happy with the outcome it’s fantastic and hopefully we get great weather to make the trip worthwhile,” she said.

JA124 ‘is one of only only six surviving JAs and was one of the first rolled out in 1946.

Mrs McGregor said selling out is exactly what we were after.

“We’re glad that people snapped up tickets so quickly and it means that places like Oamaru could get more of these visits in the future.”

While it’s undecided whether the steam train will visit Oamaru again, they hope it they will be able to.

“It’s something if it goes well we want to be able to provide to people who enjoy riding the steam train.”

Tickets went on sale back in November and sold out before Christmas and at $99 per adult and $49 per child under 15 they were a bargain for a Christmas present.

“We’re really pleased that the tickets sold out so quickly.”

Oamaruvians will unfortunately be unable to ride the steam train.

Oamaru Steam and Rail general manager Harry Andrew made attempts to try to get Oamaruvians the chance to ride the engine, but it fell through.

“It’s a bit sad and disappointing that we aren’t allowed to use the engine and take it through to Pukeuri, because the workers need a compulsory hour break and that doesn’t leave us enough time.

“It’s unfortunate because I had plenty of people willing to take a ride on the steam train, if we got the green light.”

However while the steam train is out of bounds Mr Andrew is hoping to get a diesel engine back later in the year and do something similar.

“I’m looking at doing something like that we will just have to wait and see,” he said.

The Whitestone Civic Trust and Tourism Waitaki will be making sure shops are open for the visitors.

A range of other things are likely to take place including transport to get them from the train station to the precinct and into town, some music in the historic area, some entertainment and potentially stalls from the farmers market along with the potential of Harbour St being closed off.

By Brayden Lindsay