Sold out steam train trip marks rail travel anniversary

AT 12.38pm yesterday an historic steam train rolled into the Casino Railway Station, carrying sightseers, train spotters, historians and people happy to take a trip down memory lane.

The Baldwin 2-8-2 locomotive was one of New South Wales Railway's workhorses up until its retirement in 1972, and marked its arrival at Casino with a shrill "toot toot" of its steam whistle.

The round trip from Coffs Harbour via Grafton was part of the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of trains first arriving in Coffs Harbour in 1915.

ALL ABOARD! Steam engine driver Rob Lougher readies the train for its return trip to Coffs Harbour from Casino.
ALL ABOARD! Steam engine driver Rob Lougher readies the train for its return trip to Coffs Harbour from Casino. Marc Stapelberg

The trip was completely sold out with 340 passengers making the journey, organiser Terry Daniel said.

"It is nice to get the vintage trains out again," he said

"Many people remember the days of travelling in one of these with all the smoke and the soot, and even sleeping in the luggage rack," he said.

Steam trains were a real attraction because they appealed to all five senses, he said.

Di Browning, of Lismore, caught the XPT down to Grafton just to make the historic journey to Casino.

"It was awesome, and it felt really fast," she said.

 Among the people who turned up to enjoy a ride on the old workhorse was one-year-old Lismore lad Lewis Baxter.
Among the people who turned up to enjoy a ride on the old workhorse was one-year-old Lismore lad Lewis Baxter.

"I wanted to turn the clock back, and fill the morning with a bit if adventure."

Neil Manson is the chairman of the Coffs Harbour Rail Centenary committee, and also made up part of the team driving the steam engine.

After a long journey he very much looked the part, covered in sweat and coal dust.

Driving the train was a "real hands-on job" but also a labour of love.

"There is plenty more to it than simply an accelerator and a brake," he said.

"It is a quite complex procedure."

The train's journey required roughly five to six tonnes of coal.

One of the reasons the train travelled to Casino was to use the station's train turntable, so that the engine could be turned around for its trip back.