Full steam ahead for historic railway

It’s full steam ahead for Tasmania’s historic West Coast Wilderness Railway

DEUTZ is helping to keep Tasmania’s historic West Coast Wilderness Railway on track with two generators at either end of the scenic route.

Railway officials purchased two DEUTZ DPS33DB Gensets to ensure that its stations in Queenstown and Strahan are never without power. Both are installed and ready to provide backup power for the railway and the local community if needed.

The railway’s electrician, Peter Dalton, sourced the generators via Penske Australia Launceston Branch Manager Alan Woods, who has been Tasmania’s DEUTZ dealer for six years.

Generator housing has been constructed to ensure the DEUTZ DPS33DB Gensets blend with station surroundings

They will provide backup power for station administration, cafes, and gift shops. Queenstown Station also houses the West Coast Wilderness Railway Museum.

The stunning 124-year-old route meanders through ancient rainforest that reflects the region’s rich history. Its tourist service, which is now owned by the Tasmanian Government, began in 2000.

The train stops at historic stations that offer activities including adventure sports such as mountain biking and rafting, a rainforest walk, gold panning, wild honey tastings and amazing photo opportunities.

West Coast Wilderness Railway General Manager Anthony Brown says the generators will offer peace of mind knowing that the café, museum, computer bookings and lights can operate if mains power is lost.

While power outages aren’t common, they can happen at inconvenient times.

“We’re now self-sufficient and can keep our essential services operating,” Anthony says.

“We can also support the community as we’re running a business where we’re part of the community.”

Due to COVID-19, the railway shut for six months, resuming in a COVID-safe manner from September 2020. Thanks to the support of the local and wider Tasmanian community, it was booked out for weeks after re-opening.

DEUTZ generators were chosen to power the WCWR stations at Queenstown and at Regatta Point, Strahan.

“It’s been a challenge but everyone else has had a challenge as well,” Anthony says. “The future is still very strong. The west coast is known for its topography. The views are incredible.”

Three of the five original steam trains imported from Glasgow for the railway still operate, along with two 1950s diesel engines.

Penske Australia distributes commercial vehicles, diesel engines, gas engines, and power systems. It also offers professional truck rental and leasing services.

The DEUTZ generator sits at the end of an unused platform behind an historic corrugated iron shed at Queenstown. The smaller Strachan version is painted green to blend into the yard outside.

Visit West Coast Wilderness Railway website

Making railway history

For the train buffs, Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway is also known for its association with Dr Roman Abt, a Swiss engineer, inventor and entrepreneur who invented the Rack and Pinion Railway.

Dr Abt developed the rack and pinion design inspired by the cogs of a clock. It involved a third central rail of solid bars with vertical teeth that engaged with small cogwheels – known as piston wheels – on the underside of the locomotive engine.

This enabled trains to haul loads up steeper hillsides and created a braking effect on the downhill side. It was also safe, and cheaper than earlier systems.

The Abt system spread all over the world, including to remote western Tasmania.