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All aboard . . . Oamaru Steam and Rail Society general manager Harry Andrew is offering train rides for a donation this Sunday. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

Fifty years ago, it would have been strange for someone to have never travelled by train.

These days, it is not uncommon, and Oamaru Steam and Rail Society general manager Harry Andrew says everyone should experience the mode of transport, even if it is just a short trip.

Last Sunday, the society offered rides from the Harbourside Station, in Itchen St, to the Oamaru Penguin Colony, for a donation instead of a priced ticket.

Four trips by donation are running again this Sunday, starting at 11am and finishing at 2pm.

“It is to say thank you to the community, and welcome everybody back from lockdown,” Mr Andrew said.

“The community gives us a lot and you have to give something back.”

The trains had proved a popular attraction since the Oamaru Steam and Rail Society started offering rides on that route in 1999, he said.

On a busy day, such as during during the Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations, there had been as many as 1600 passengers take the journey.

“It’s been good – it encourages tourists to stay here a bit longer,” Mr Andrew said.

“Kids love it, some of them have never travelled on a train before.”

Since the lockdown, some of the society’s volunteers had decided not to resume their duties, so Mr Andrew was on the lookout for more.

“I find it good to chat to people and I’m hoping I may pick up more members [who] have been in lockdown with nothing to do.”

People generally started as guards, travelling on the train and looking after the passengers.

“You don’t need any qualifications, you just need to be people-friendly.”