Junee’s eagerly anticipated private railway has been unveiled.
Railway enthusiast Peter Neve OAM unveiled his private track, known as Pete’s Hobby Railway, to more than 50 guests on Monday.
Mr Neve said he was thrilled to see months of hard work pay off with a well-received grand opening which doubled as his 75th birthday celebration.
“It all went very well,” Mr Neve said.
“It was a bit stressful, just because myself and the volunteers had put in so much work over the last few days to get everything finalised.
“We had a lot of help but the person most helpful to us was the man in the sky, he gave us perfect weather.”
Early in the day, volunteers performed a final safety inspection of the track after arriving on a hand-pump four wheeled trike, before formally declaring the track safe for use as guests watched on from the shade of a large Kurrajong tree.
Mr Neve and master of ceremonies Nicholas Pyers then had a 1915 Hunslet, a sleek steam-powered locomotive, cruise through a ceremonious ribbon before declaring the track officially open.
The first ever train to hit the freshly-laid tracks was flagged by retired Station Master Claude Riley, dressed in his 1970s State Rail uniform and cap, before train guard Rhys Harrison gave the green flag for the train to depart.
The track’s station was unveiled as Loftus Station, the original construction name for Junee Station in the late 1870s.
It also shares the name of the southern Sydney suburb where Mr Neve grew up.
A timber-faced wooden passenger platform has also been constructed at the site, largely thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteer Josh Burke.
The Wardle Street track is approximately 350 metres long and will eventually extend to 500 metres upon completion.
The next public running of the railway will be during the Rhythm n Rail Festival, pending council approval.