Ab699 is back in action!

Ab699, dressed as Ab718, leaves Pleasant Point station on September 23, its first day of running in five years. Photo: John Bisset

After several years out of service for a major overhaul, Ab 699 back together and was welcomed into service again on September 23, 2018. 

Chief engineer Dowall McLeod cut a ribbon with Timaru deputy mayor Richard Lyon, officially marking the engine's return to service after a massive five-year overhaul.

The Mackenzie Highland Pipe Band played the locomotive out of Pleasant Point station and the day's events were topped off with night running.

The Mackenzie Pipe Band, which played during the celebrations, poses for a photo in front of the historic station building. Photo: Keri Bulling-Slocombe

One noteable change on the day was that 699 was instead dressed up at Ab 718 - the lead engine (followed by Ab 798) on the last train from Fairlie 50 years ago.

The Timaru Herald visited for the day and wrote this article to mark the occasion. Thank you to everyone who either helped with this project, or came out to help us celebrate its completion. We couldn't do it without you.

Pleasant Point Railway & Historical Society

Welcome aboard!

A small army of volunteers keep this award-winning charitable group - and all of its equipment - running. They are all working to preserve New Zealand's railway history and the history of the South Canterbury area.

If you're not from the area and don't know where to find us you can pinpoint us here. And if your visit doesn't co-incide with a running day you can arrange a special visit, or simply drop by most Saturdays or Wednesdays, when the team are on site.


Since the beginning of 2018, people from around the world have made their way to Pleasant Point to ride the train. They include visitors from Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Holland, China, the UK, Germany, Canada & Israel.


Three tour parties we had through from overseas were from Israel, Australia and Timaru’s sister city, Eniwa, located in north Japan.

Help wanted!

Joan is retiring from our society from the role of Publicity Officer. Joan's done a sterling job on this for a number of years, and we have been looking around for someone to fill this important part of our society’s operations. So far we have not been able to find anyone. If you would like to help the society, or know of someone who could be interested, please feel free to contact us. Full training will be given.

Track work 

It's cold, hard work - but someone's got to do it.

During the winter shut-down period, the track team have been busy ripping out old sleepers and replacing them and the ballast they sit in.

With a sleeper every two feet, it's not a quick process and the materials aren't cheap either.

When the society was first relaying track, the then-county council ordered the rails be hidden at grass-level. Together with that, limited funds meant we could only afford river-run shingle - a mix of dirt and stones - to sit the track in. That meant the sleepers didn't get the drainage they needed.

While the track has since been raised out of the ground, it's an ongoing project to remove the old ballast as we spot-resleeper and replace it with proper dirt-free ballast.

To find out how you can help, either physically or financially, contact us here.