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Tracks of his years: Five decades with QR

Mervyn Suare has worked on the railway for five decades.
Mervyn Suare has worked on the railway for five decades. Renee Pilcher

GYMPIE North Railway Station employee Mervyn Suares has not seen UFOs or ghosts, but has witnessed a lot in his 50 years with Queensland Rail.

Mr Suares, 66, marks half a century of continuous service this Sunday and yesterday could not shine any light on the unexplained sightings at the Gympie station.

Locals have reported seeing the unexplained in the skies over the Gympie North Railway Station on more than one occasion, but Mr Suares said it was not something he had experienced.

"I haven't seen any ghosts either," he said.

What he has seen, though, is how technology and time have transformed the railway industry over 50 years.

From steam and diesel to electricity, the way trains have powered up and down the state has changed the railway.

The Queensland Rail employee is humble about his record and recalls with nostalgia starting his job on August 10, 1964, as a lad porter at the Roma St goods yard.

Queensland Rail provided Mr Suares yesterday with a similar hat to the one he first wore 50 years ago. Flipping the hat over, the memories came flooding back.

He recalled how his railway career came close to ending much sooner in 1969, when he was offered a rugby league contract to play for Lower Herbert in Ingham.

The railway worker first accepted the offer but later declined, deciding his job was more important.

Mr Suares has moved countless times for his career, working at every station from Gympie North to Wacol on the Caboolture/Sunshine Coast and Ipswich lines, freight depots (Gatton, Toogoolawah, Nambour, Gympie, Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Gayndah) as well as regional stations from Cloncurry in the north-west to Gatton.

Mr Suares said his love for working at Queensland Rail was about mateship and meeting people.

With up to 200 passengers passing through the Gympie North Railway Station daily, the Queensland Rail employee has met many characters.

He recalled helping a 12-year-old boy who fell asleep on the train and ended up in Gympie.

The boy's luggage, however, ended up at the final destination of Hervey Bay and Mr Suares took the lad under his wing, giving him something to drink and eat while he contacted the boy's worried mother.

Mr Suares also recalled a passenger who, on the way to the toilet, encountered a black snake sunning itself.

"I heard a big scream and when I got out to see what was going on, I saw a passenger trying to climb a tin wall to get away," he said.

In his spare time, Mr Suares enjoys a round of golf with a handicap of 14 and while retirement is not on the cards now, he plans to one day travel back to all the places he has called home.

Topics:  careers employment queensland rail

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