SAGA: A report has found the old Rattler group likely failed to uphold the contract for leased train assets.
SAGA: A report has found the old Rattler group likely failed to uphold the contract for leased train assets. David Crossley

Old Rattler mess continues to haunt the new train

NEW light has been shed in the fight over a destroyed historic Rattler train after a council-commissioned report found it "highly likely” the original Rattler group failed to comply with a key contract.

The confidential report was compiled to bring clarity to the Gympie District Historical Society's dispute over items leased to the Mary Valley Heritage Railway in 1998, and transferred to the council owned Rattler Railway Company when it took over operation of the heritage train.

Ex-MVHR members Frank Lightfoot and Ron Owen have said the transfer of the 81 leased items could not have been legally made without GDHS's consent, and have called for compensation for the train.

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Consultant Stephen Eggins said the now-defunct MVHR likely failed to comply with the transfer clause, along with two other points: proper maintenance and non-alteration.

rattler
The old Rattler. David Crossley

Mr Eggins said the fact the train stopped being used in 2003 and sat idle with little or no maintenance from MVHR until 2012 is, in his view, "evidence in itself that it was not properly maintained”.

However, there were questions about the train's condition when leased to MVHR which he said "could not be satisfactorily answered”.

Mr Eggins said a June audit of the historic train "confirmed more than 37 missing items”.

"The whereabouts of these parts are unknown and the RRC has confirmed that it has not been responsible for their removal,” he said.

Rattler's First Run - Saturday, October 6, 2018.
New Rattler's First Run - Saturday, October 6, 2018. Donna Jones

Some of these items had been stolen between the shutdown and resurrection of the Rattler, Mr Eggins said, but "it is my understanding that some parts were taken... by MVHR to support the operations of the railway...”.

The report found three of the 10 leased items listed in the report did not belong to the GDHS. A council spokeswoman said the RRC "have again extended the offer to the Gympie District Historical Society to return locomotive 45 and rollingstock that has been identified as being owned by (them)”.

Letter P11