Full-steam ahead for the Kingston Flyer in 2009, just
before it was mothballed. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A lobbyist trying to rally political support to buy the
125-year-old Kingston Flyer vintage steam train is worried it
will end up in the hands of foreign owners who are trying to
"sidestep" Overseas Investment Office regulations.
Karl Barkley, chairman of the Kingston Flyer Southern F
Locomotive Trust, said he had approached Kingston
Acquisitions Ltd liquidators Prudential Mortgage Ltd - owned
by father and son George and Hayden Jones - about potentially
leasing the two locomotives, rolling stock and 14km of track.
Mr Barkley, of Invercargill, said the trust's offers to lease
or buy the train had had a negative response from Prudential,
which could not be contacted by the Otago Daily Times
"We are concerned there are plans by some to sell this iconic
Kiwi railway off to an American company called Railmark," Mr
Barkley said in a statement issued to politicians and media
"It's part of our history - it would be like selling off the
Railmark New Zealand Ltd is listed on the Companies Office
website with two directors: one American, one a New
"Is this so it doesn't attract overseas investment status,
therefore staying under the radar?" he said, questioning the
motives for setting up the company in New Zealand.
Railmark had been eyed as a potential buyer for the railway
before it was placed in receivership.
The train trust would have many potential avenues of funding
if the Kingston Flyer was sold, Mr Barkley said.
"This historic railway has been run over the last 30 or so
years by private ownership, who can never get the required
funds to preserve this unique, world-class heritage tourist
"It now is in a very poor state of disrepair and hasn't
operated now for its second season."
Once the train was up to main-line standard, the trust
planned to run it between Invercargill and Bluff. Other plans
included excursions to Dunedin for the Rugby World Cup, to
Christchurch for the New Zealand Cup and the flower show, and
to the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
"As Invercargill will be hosting the Rugby World Cup, and
with one of the locomotives based in Invercargill, this is
another way to generate income for The Kingston Flyer Railway
- at the same time promoting tourism in the deep South."
Mr Barkley said he had raised $55,000 in cash and pledges and
was appealing for another 25,000 donations of $100 each to
buy the railway.