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Steam engine enthusiast and engineer Karl Barkley did not return telephone calls, but he tweeted on Friday afternoon the bid had not gone to plan.
''I have failed once again to save the Kingston Flyer railway into a charitable trust Kiwis don't seem 2 care about our Heritage $3500 Pledged.''
The difference in pledge totals has not been explained.
Mr Barkley sought $3.6 million to buy the rolling stock and railway.
His aim was to find 36,000 New Zealanders to each spend $100 to reach the total and secure the purchase of the operation.