Owen calls for council to compensate for ruined Rattler
EX-RATTLER member Ron Owen is calling on Gympie Regional Council to act in good faith and compensate for the destruction of a steam train which was once leased to the Mary Valley Heritage Railway.
Locomotive C17 No 45 was contracted by the MVHR back in 1998 when the Rattler first started, but now sits in ruins at the workshop - a fact which has rankled Gympie District Historical Society president Frank Lightfoot.
It was one of several items leased by the MVHR which Mr Lightfoot estimates were worth about $1 million.
Council CEO Bernard Smith said early this month the council was not a party to the claim and could not substantiate it nor compensate, and Mr Owen is unhappy the issue appears to be being dodged.
"The council has been a party to the MVHR and the RRC since their inception,” he said.
"If they were not a major party... (they) could not give permission for the GDHS to remove the cannibalised engine 45.”
He was also bemused by the request for GDHS to remove an injunction preventing the MVHR from winding up if they were satisfied the council's commitment to heritage preservation was enough to offset any loss.
"How could anyone give credit to the offer... when this issue has been before the council for five years or more and... puts the GDHS owners of the 'heritage' at such a huge loss?”
Mr Owen was galled by the apparent glossing over of the work which was put into No. 45 to get it running, particularly given the amount subsequently funnelled into a similar engine by the council
"These same renovations have currently cost several million dollars to another engine,” he said.
It also galled him given the Rattler "could not have operated without all those leased items”.
Nor could the Rattler run right now without those assets, Mr Owen said.
Mr Lightfoot called for fair compensation over the condition of the train last month.
He said the lease with MVHR required the train to be kept in the same working condition it was leased in.
The Rattler Railway Company and Mr Smith have said it is now only suitable "for scrap”.
The GDHS has since put an injunction in place to stop the MVHR from winding up until the lease issue is solved.
Mr Owen resigned from the MVHR committee in a turmoil-filled 2011 for the company, which included concerns about the safety of the track.
The Rattler was mothballed by rail authorities the next year.
The council declined to give further comment.