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Blue Mountains Tourist : Autumn 2011
All aboard -- the Blue Mountains luxury train! www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au autumn 2011 12 "When luxury, privacy and intimacy are everything." Leura Rose, Varenna & Strawberry Patch Totally private & secluded romantic mountain hideaways. www.mountainwhispers.com.au For further information contact: Lorraine Allanson on 0430 496 755 Highly Commended Award for Excellence 2009 with its large, new conference facilities." To ensure maximum comfort, each trip will be limited to 145 passengers who will have the use of three air conditioned club cars and two dining cars, hauled by diesel and steam locomotives. The locomotives and 'pathway' rights will be provided by the Lachlan Valley Railway. While pricing has yet to be determined, Michael is adamant that it must be affordable. The Blue Zephyr Company is a division of the Hunter Valley Railway Workshops and Eskbank Rail. Other key players in the venture include operations manager Mark Stapleton and business manager Andrew Young. Between them, the partners have had many years experience in restoring and rebuilding railway rolling stock and running rail projects. Michael and Mark have for the past 10 years operated the Hunter Valley Railway Workshops and Museum, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to teaching rails skills both past and present, rebuilding locomotives and rolling stock and conserving Australia's railway heritage. "The funding for the Blue Zephyr project has come from our successful rail restoration services," says Michael. "The money made from it will be used to make the service even better, and to continue our restoration work." The idea for the train dates back to the 1970s and actual work on the project began five years ago in the Hunter. Work is continuing at the Eskbank railway yard in Lithgow. "An important part of the project is to turn the Eskbank railway yard into an attractive railhead for the service," says Michael. This will require Lithgow City Council to take over the site from State Rail. Just about everybody loves the idea of luxury train travel, rocking gently through the countryside in a plush dining car, eating great food and drinking fine wine. There are several such tourist trains in Australia -- and there's one coming to the Blue Mountains region. It's called the Blue Zephyr and if all goes to plan it will be operating by April or May this year between Lithgow, Sydney, Mudgee and the Hunter, after a number of trial runs. "We are especially keen on the Blue Mountains option because the trip can be done in one day -- which is great for cruise ship passengers and others on a tight schedule," says managing director Michael Muter. The train would pick up passengers in Sydney and take them to Katoomba, where they could spend several hours seeing the sights of the Upper Mountains. They would then be taken by road to Lithgow -- or even Mount Victoria -- to rejoin the train for a dinner cruise back to Sydney. "For corporate and conference clients, Medlow Bath could be a winner once the Hydro Majestic reopens