Steam train back for monthly outings at Dreamworld
Following the trial run on Australia Day and an outpouring of online support, Dreamworld will be returning the iconic 1917 Baldwin steam train to regular service on the first Saturday of each month.
On Australia Day Dreamworld quietly had the Baldwin steam locomotive back in action. It was the first time since 2013 that a steam train had navigated the three kilometre narrow gauge track at Dreamworld. Though the reintroduction was without fanfare or publicity, train enthusiasts and Dreamworld fans soon picked up; messages of support flowed on Dreamworld's Facebook page and the park replied with hints about its future, suggesting that it will be back again.
Dreamworld have confirmed to Parkz that they will be operating the Baldwin on the first Saturday of every month following its reception on Australia Day.
The red 1917 Baldwin engine was a staple at Dreamworld for more than three decades. Opening with the park in 1981 as Cannonball Express, it operated alongside the park's 1951 Perry steam engine until 2013 when both locomotives were retired and a diesel replica from Italy's C&S was put into daily duty.
The change was met with discontent from theme park and railway enthusiasts alike. While the new locomotive looked the part, its utilitarian diesel engine sound and motion was an abrupt departure from genuine steam locomotives from a bygone era. The change was pitched as an environmentally-friendly alternative to the steam engines.
In a press release at the time of the change in October 2013, Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson said: “Dreamworld’s trains have been a family favourite since the park opened in 1981, so it was important that we considered all measures to keep this attraction going while staying true to our commitment to the environment it operates in. This beautiful new engine is something we’re very proud and allows us to run the Dreamworld Railway train more frequently so more of our guests can enjoy the experience."
Dreamworld suggested in their press release that the switch resulted in a 90% reduction in the attraction's carbon emissions.
The Perry, Dreamworld's newer of the two original steam engines, was donated to the Australian Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Society where it is maintained and still operated for tourists and enthusiasts. The Baldwin remained at Dreamworld, sitting just out of view in the park's train storage and maintenance area, north of the Buzzsaw roller coaster. In this location the train has received ongoing maintenance and servicing to keep it in an operatable condition.
Chris Deaves, General Manager of Engineering at Dreamworld told Parkz that returning to service wasn't arduous: "The Train has been kept well maintained since its original use. It has been continually serviced so it was a smooth transition to get the locomotive back on the tracks."
With the Baldwin locomotive returning to service on the first Saturday each month, it will give train enthusiasts a regular opportunity to ride an authentic steam train while theme park fans will be able to enjoy the classic Dreamworld attraction as it originally operated. The Baldwin will also be on hand for other events at the park, with the diesel Dreamworld Express engine taking on regular daily duties in the park.
"The train will also be on standby for special occasions. The diesel Dreamworld Express will be used at all other times," Mr Deaves told Parkz.
With its return to service, the Baldwin engine will again join the Rocky Hollow Log Ride as the only two original attractions to remain from Dreamworld's 1981 opening.