A brief conversation on radio revealed the news train lovers and families in the Central West did not know they were waiting to hear: the Zig Zag Railway could be up and running by the end of 2017.
The Zig Zag Railway Co-op chairman, Lee Wiggins, shared the news on 2GB and reiterated the co-op’s ability to complete repairs in 2017 at the council meeting on April 10.
“That’s the goal,” Mr Wiggins told the Lithgow Mercury.
“There are fifty to sixty people working on it, everybody that does it is a volunteer.
“Most of the people involved are members of the co-op who miss it, basically. I was a steam driver before and I can’t wait to see all the families and kids experience the railway again.”
Work on the railway has been continuous since it closed in 2012 for maintenance to comply with regulatory standards.
Flash flooding from heavy downpours at the end of February 2013 and in March 2013 caused major damage throughout the Zig Zag reserve including a landslip near the Clarence Tunnel. In October 2013 a fire burnt most of the railway’s rolling stock.
“We have fully reviewed the safety management system. The railway is in a high fire danger area but we just have to manage that as best as we can,” Mr Wiggins said.
At the council meeting on Monday night, April 10, development contributions were waived for the construction of a retaining basket where landslips occurred previously.
“It’s looking really good,” Mr Wiggins said.
“We’ve changed the sleepers, the works trains are going and we have got staff repairing the track. We still have a lot of hurdles to jump.”
Mr Wiggins said the repairs to the railway had largely been self-funded by the crew of volunteers.
“The cost involved hasn’t been astronomical. A lot of the burden of the work has been time related. Team work has been the most important thing.
“Working on the railway has given me a lot of management skills, trade skills and personal development. I’d encourage anyone to get involved.”
It has been a week of announcements for Lithgow’s historic sites, with a tender awarded for blast furnace renovations and the council nominating Eskbank House to be listed on the NSW Heritage Register.
“The Zig Zag Railway has a key impact on tourism,” Mr Wiggins said.