Feb 2, 2013 3:16 PM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Louisville Zoo is planning to offer rides on two new trains as soon as staff members are fully trained on how to operate the vehicles.
The move comes more than three years after a train derailed at the facility, injuring 17 children and five adults. State investigators found contributing factors to the accident included that the train was traveling too fast, that it was in bad mechanical condition and the operator wasn't properly trained.
Zoo director John Walczak told The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/W8EPtX) that an announcement on when the trains would begin running would come later.
"We are not going to announce when they will be ready to operate until we have full confidence in the operation and safety of the trains," Walczak said.
The zoo has spent more than $1 million to restart train rides at the facility. That includes the $822,000 cost of the trains and $274 to improve the tracks and drainage.
Each vehicle has a faux locomotive and three covered cars that can carry about 30 passengers apiece and run on 24-inch track. The steel and aluminum open-air cars have locking doors and wooden benches for seats.
Operators have the option of sitting in the locomotive or the rear.
Zoo spokesman Kyle Sherperd said a ride will consist of one-lap around the zoo's perimeter.
The zoo said about 400 paying passengers rode the old trains each day for a price of $2.50 per ride. A new price hasn't been set.
"We will be thoroughly training the engineers and conductors to ensure your comfort and safety," he wrote in a recent issue of Trunkline, a city-published monthly magazine about the zoo.
Walczak told the newspaper that the manufacturer of the trains will travel to Louisville to help train zoo workers. He said rail safety experts would help draft training manuals and procedures.
In addition, the manufacturer and other consultants will help the zoo set a maximum speed for the trains, Shepherd said.
Walczak said all that must be accomplished before rides will be offered on the new trains.
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com
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