DEAD IN THE TRACKS: Dave Laker, Kelvin Hutchinson, and Trevor Costin.
DEAD IN THE TRACKS: Dave Laker, Kelvin Hutchinson, and Trevor Costin.

‘Makes you wonder what’s next’: Railway hit hard by closure

AFTER a devastating 2019, things were finally on the up for the Southern Downs Steam Railway team.

The train had 600 passengers booked this weekend, it was full steam ahead, until corona­virus hit the Downs.

Now the not-for-profit organisation has closed its doors indefinitely.

Overcoming drought, fire and a broken steam engine, life had thrown SDSR another disappointing hurdle, according to secretary Kelvin Hutchinson.

"Like most businesses, things were looking up, our hopes were up," Mr Hutchinson said.

"All of a sudden now we've got the virus. It makes you wonder what's next."

All trips had been suspended until June, but Mr Hutchinson said the volunteers would continue work as long as federal mandates allowed them.

"It means so much for our volunteers, most of which are retirees," he said.

"It gives purpose, a kinship.

"We have made a concerted effort that until further government advice we're staying open."

The closure's impact would also ripple through the region.

"We're probably in a better position because we're all volunteers, but we do feel for the businesses associated with us."

Kim Avery, owner of the Wallangarra Railway Cafe, said it would be a reasonable loss of business.

"We do look forward to the train coming in every month," she said.

Mr Hutchinson asked locals to consider donating tickets or any spare cash.

"Quite a lot of passengers have already donated their tickets to help us, which has been really generous, because there's plenty of tough times ahead for everyone," he said.



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