Wet weather has been wearing on operators of the Nelson streetcar.
The portion of streetcar rail bed that runs along the Lakeside Park playing fields has been underwater all summer. Since June 6, the streetcar has only been able to run for two days.
“We’ve probably lost $10,000 in revenue, and our costs aren’t any less. We still have to pay our insurance and electrical,” said Jim Robertson, treasurer of the Nelson Electronic Tramway Society.
To get the streetcar back in operation, members of the tramway society are raising the flooded section track by 25 to 40 centimetres. They job involves jacking up the track, digging rail ties out of the muck and moving them to higher ground, then filling in the gap with new balast stones.
It’s a big job, especially given that the average age of society members is about 70 years old.
“What we really need is some 25-year-olds to help us do this,” laughed Bill Randel, track maintenance supervisor for the tramway society.
After three days of hard labour, volunteers have made it through about a third of the 180 metre stretch of track. Occasionally they find rail ties that have rotted from being waterlogged for so long and need to be replaced.
Robertson estimates the job will cost between $70,000 and $80,000, which is more than the tramway society can shoulder on its own. He hopes some other community groups will step forward to help fund the project.
“We don’t usually ask for hand outs, but this has been a really hard year for us,” said Robertson.
Besides financial contributions, Robertson suggested groups or individuals could help work on the track or an excavating business could donate equipment to make the job go faster.
“The sooner we can get the streetcar running again, the sooner we’ll be back to normal and have money coming in,” Robertson said.
To help out the Tramway society, contact Robertson, 250-352-7949 or firstname.lastname@example.org.