Key Rattler figure says train's return is on home stretch
ADRIAN Hurley doesn't even live in Gympie, but 20 years of dedication has him ranking as one of the most passionate - and important - figures behind the Mary Valley Rattler revival project.
After first becoming involved as a volunteer driver of the original rattler in 1998, the Rockhampton native was almost immediately back in the fold as a Rattler Railway company board director and head trainer when talks of a resurrection began in 2012.
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Now on the eve of the passenger locomotive's return, Mr Hurley said he and the team of volunteers behind driver training operations are brimming with excitement.
"It's going to be great, none of us volunteers liked to see the railway shut down,” Mr Hurley said.
"I guess a lot of us have got the attitude that if we can stand it up we'll do what we've got to.
"In the last week we ran our first training on the branch line, it was only a training run but it was a milestone that meant a lot to us.”
A management worker and former driver for Australia's largest rail freight operator Aurizon, Mr Hurley serves a similar role in a volunteer capacity on the Rattler Railway Company board.
He recently took two weeks' leave from Aurizon to start the driver training process in the wake of Gympie Regional Council's "certified track and structures” handover.
The 55-year-old said his passion for the Rattler - and locomotives in general - "hasn't stopped”.
"My Dad Herbert was a steam train driver, and I just picked it up as a kid, I've been into it all my life.
"This is my hobby, at the moment it's a bit more than a hobby (because) it takes up a lot of time.
"There's a lot of people involved in this, a lot of these people work in the rail industry, they're professionals. That's what makes this railway operate.
"It's a big family, it's a big operation.
"Over the next month we'll go from taking a diesel locomotive out there to a steam locomotive, we'll transition into a full dress rehearsal before we take passengers.
"I hope I'm here opening day whether I'm driving the train or not, it means a lot to everyone.”
Just when that opening day is remains unconfirmed, but regular updates will be given via the Mary Valley Rattler website.
Speaking at council's handover announcement last Friday, Rattler Railway Company chairman Ian McNicol said all doubts over the project would be "set aside” once the service is fully operational.