TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Gage Park’s new toy train is drawing a crowd.
On February 20, the new Gage Park train arrived from Wichita with purple, yellow, green, blue, and red boxcars.
Mike McLaughlin, communications and public information supervisor for Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, is excited to get the train going. McLaughlin said 70 adults or 105 children could occupy the vehicle at any one time. He also believes adults traveling by train will be less disturbed.
“The new seats are more comfortable. Coaches are a little taller,” McLaughlin said. “So if you’re an adult, it won’t feel like your knees are right next to your chin.”
At least some adults are excited about the new addition.
“I grew up traveling on the little train, on school trips and just as a family at the zoo,” explained Mikayla Masotto. “So, I’m really excited to have the new one and share those memories with my daughter.”
“I have memories as a kid coming here and riding the train in the summer with my grandparents,” John Failor shared. “I thought it would be nice to come and see the new one that landed here on the runway.”
According to Shawnee County Parks and Recreation officials, the previous train was 55 years old and at the point where they couldn’t even get parts for the train.
“We had to literally fabricate parts from scratch to keep it running. Dan Dodds, our mechanic, once took an alternator off his truck just to keep it running,” McLaughlin said.
Unlike the old train which ran on diesel, the new train is fully electric. About 900 gallons of diesel were used last year to keep the train running. Instead, the new train is powered by an electric charge.
“We really needed a new train, a new efficient train, and this one definitely fits the bill. What’s really nice is that it has a lot less mechanical parts to break down,” said McLaughlin.
Shawnee County officials said they plan to have the train operational by spring break.
The new Gage Park train has finally arrived in the Capital.