You'll want to get tickets soon for Summerland steam railway's 25th season - InfoNews

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You'll want to get tickets soon for Summerland steam railway's 25th season

The Kettle Valley Steam train on the Trout Creek bridge near Summerland.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Kettle Valley Steam Railway Facebook page
March 12, 2020 - 8:00 AM

The Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland is getting ready for a new season, giving visitors a chance to experience a bygone era to a time when trains dominated transportation routes in and out of the South Okanagan.

The railway celebrates its 25th season this year, born in 1995 after all but a 10 km stretch of rails were torn up in the early 1990s after it was abandoned by Canadian Pacific Railway.

The Kettle Valley Railway was first built between 1910 and 1915.

Nowadays, a 90-minute train rides take visitors through Prairie Valley near Summerland, with scenic views of orchards, vineyards and fields.

The Kettle Valley Steam Railway begins its 25th season with Easter excursions on April 11, 2020.
The Kettle Valley Steam Railway begins its 25th season with Easter excursions on April 11, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Kettle Valley Steam Railway Facebook page

A highlight of the trip is a journey across the famous Trout Creek trestle with picturesque views of Okanagan Lake and the Trout Creek canyon below.

The railway has two locomotives at its disposal, one of which is similar to the locomotives that used to ply the railway in its early days, and a more modern diesel locomotive that is used as a back-up to the more original “Spirit of Summerland.’

"The Spirit of Summerland" was manufactured in 1912 by the Montreal Locomotive Works, according to the KVR website.

The locomotive worked on the Provincial Museum train tour that used the KVR line in 1977, and has also been used in several films.

The railway’s second engine is an Alco Diesel, built in 1956.

Railway operations manager and locomotive engineer Brad Coates says the trains are operated by a couple of two man crews over the summer.

Three full time and two part time crew do maintenance during the winter.

"There's no training available today for learning how to become a locomotive engineer, but they aren't a really complicated machine," Coates says. "It's a lost art when you look at the big picture, but when you break it all down, much of the operation uses technology and industry that is still around today."

He says the operation follows all modern safety guidelines.

Coates says coal is no longer used as fuel in the locomotives. They were converted to oil, and can now burn a number of different fuels, including oil, bunker oil, diesel and even recycled engine oil.

"That's what we're using now. We get recycled oil from local oil change facilities after it's cleaned of impurities," he says.

The Kettle Valley Train is also made up of several open air coaches in addition to enclosed authentic vintage coaches from the 1940s, restored to their original look and feel.

The 2020 season begins with pre-season departures on an Easter train on April 11 at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

A Mother’s Day train is also scheduled for May 10, with trains at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Steam train sales administration support Mariana Holzer says the trains still have quite a few seats available, but she advises passengers to book early for best selection.

"I would say the same thing for those making plans for Mother's Day. We have two trains on both days," she says.

In June there is a special Agur Lake train on June 13 at 10:30 a.m.

On June 20, the Grand Sommelier Express 2020 ride takes place with excursions at 1 and 5 p.m.

The spring schedule begins May 16 to June 29, with trains running on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

The Great Train Robbery excursions are back this year in both spring and summer schedules.
The Great Train Robbery excursions are back this year in both spring and summer schedules.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Kettle Valley Steam Railway Facebook page

Two Great Train Robbery runs, scheduled for June 7 at 1:30 p.m. and June 21 at 1:30 and 4 p.m., include a barbeque.

The railway is operated by the Kettle Valley Railway Society, a non-profit organization that welcomes new memberships.

Kettle Valley Steam Railway is located at 18404 Bathville Road in Summerland.

For the 2020 season's complete schedule and ticket prices, visit the website at kettlevalleyrail.org

Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland

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