Rattler volunteers want their workshop back

VALLEY Rattler volunteers will hold a series of meetings this Saturday they hope will pressure the Gympie Regional Council and Rattler Railway Company into reopening their Gympie workshop.

The volunteers were locked out in March, but have since formed their own organisation and vowed to not let the Rattler die.

The Valley Rattler Volunteer Association will host the information days at stations along the Valley line, and circulate a petition asking for the workshop to be reopened immediately.

These will take place at:

Gympie station 9-10.30am;

Amamoor 11-11.30am;

Kandanga 12-12.30pm;

Imbil 1-2pm; and

Dagun 2.30-4pm.

HEYDAY: The Mary Valley Rattler at the Gympie Station.
HEYDAY: The Mary Valley Rattler at the Gympie Station.

Volunteers who worked on the Rattler trains for many years formed the VRVA last month to "try to get the railway operational again".

When the old Mary Valley Heritage Railway ceased operations, former State MP David Gibson and mayor, the late Ron Dyne, formed the Mary Valley Rattler Community Holdings Ltd as a holding company, with the Rattler Railway Company Ltd as the trading and operational company, with a board comprised originally of local business people.

VRVA spokesman Ken Coulter said yesterday most volunteers had signed on in September 2014 as Friends of the Rattler Volunteers, under the RRC.

"But after signing on, there was literally no further communication until March 31, 2015, when the RRC closed up the Gympie station and the railway's workshops and all volunteers were told not to come back and the locks were changed," Mr Coulter said.

"That is why the volunteers who had maintained the trains, worked in the office and worked on board the trains, got together and formed the VRVA. These are the volunteers who actually operated the trains when the railway was operational."

There was "no way" the Rattler's core group of volunteers "were going to see the railway close", he said.

"The Association is planning fundraising to have the boilers on at least two of the steam locomotives restored, but to do the work the railway workshops need to be re-opened and this Saturday, visitors can sign the petition to have the workshops re-opened immediately.

"In addition the VRVA wants to work closely with the Mary Valley communities to ensure the stations and infrastructure are kept in good order so when the State Government lets the contract to renew the railway track the Valley Rattler has steam locomotives and renovated heritage carriages ready to operate on the new track, and local stations looking their best.

"Currently, the infrastructure looks unkempt and in a state of disrepair and our volunteers want to start getting the railway back into shape."

"It can be done but we will need volunteers from Gympie and throughout the Mary Valley to get everything back in working order. Whatever your skills we will be able to accommodate you so please come and meet with us on Saturday at your nearest station and tell us how you can help".

Inquiries Ken Coulter 0417 769993 or email valleyrattlervolunteerassn@hotmail.com or Facebook Valley Rattler Volunteer Association.

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