Public invited to give familiar train new name

Crest Train Trust chairman and train driver Rodger Barnett (right) and volunteer Brent Aplin...
Crest Train Trust chairman and train driver Rodger Barnett (right) and volunteer Brent Aplin welcome children and parents aboard the train for a trip around Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
The popular train at Dunedin Botanic Garden has a new engine after 29 years, and will soon have a new name to go with it.

The Children’s Recreational Enterprise Support Trust (Crest), which runs the train and at present shares its name with it, will let the public have a say in choosing a catchy new name this weekend.

The "Crest Renaming Weekend" will be held this Saturday and Sunday, February 27 and 28, with free train rides on offer for children from 10am to 3pm each day, departing as usual from outside the Croque-O-Dile cafe.

A list of possible names will be displayed, and the public will be able to vote for their favourite. Spot prizes will be awarded, sponsored by the cafe and Gardens New World.

Crest trust chairman Rodger Barnett said the old and worn-out tractor was replaced with a newer second-hand model while the train was shut down during the Covid-19 lockdown last year.

The $9000 cost of the replacement tractor was covered by trust funds and was installed into the train with the generous support of AB Equipment and volunteer Andres Guiguet.

"Once the tractor was installed as the train’s engine, it took quite a while to rebuild the train around it and repaint, so we weren’t able to operate the train last year," Mr Barnett said.

"However, we are back into full swing this year, and the families are enjoying it again."

The trust likes to run the train daily during school holidays and regularly at weekends in the summer, but is finding it difficult to maintain a schedule due to a shortage of volunteer drivers.

Driver support and people with maintenance skills would also be welcome — recent retirees and people not presently working would be perfect, Mr Barnett said.

"Most of our present drivers have been with us for several years and really enjoy seeing happy people and helping them to appreciate our beautiful garden."

People who are interested in becoming volunteers with the train trust are welcome to have a chat during this weekend’s activities.

Newly-appointed treasurer Kirsty Clark said the trust had donated about $35,000 over the past 20 years.

"Most grants are about $500 and support an individual child with the cost of a recreational pursuit, meaning the trust has been able to help a lot of children," she said.

The trust was fully self-funded and run entirely by volunteers, with its income from the train and the Shuttle Bug (which tours the upper garden) covering all grants and operational costs, Mrs Clark said.

If the weather is poor this weekend, the event will be held on March 6 and 7.

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