Louisville Zoo trains had to be modified before running on track - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Zoo trains had to be modified before running on tracks

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Louisville, KY (WDRB) -- Louisville Zoo visitors have seen the new trains running for days. They're back on the tracks again tooting their horns. Zoo officials say hours and hours worth of training are underway.

The two new trains have added safety features, including an emergency brake and magnetic locking doors. John Walczak, the Louisville Zoo Director says, "There will be an engineer that is going to sit on the locomotive and there will be a conductor that rides on the back of the train. They'll both have access to the braking systems."

Facilities Supervisor Rich Williams was doing the opening checklist Tuesday, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Williams says, "It's done every day before the rides and attractions crew take over. Both trains are gone through from front to back, everything from brakes to electrical to hydraulic."

The Louisville Zoo spent $1 million to buy the two new trains and repair the tracks.  The trains are manufactured by a British company which also provides trains for Disney.  But when the new trains arrived, there was a problem.

Walczak says, "The canopies were adjusted by the manufacturer three inches to provide appropriate clearance. There was clearance, but we wanted to make sure we had what the manufacturer felt comfortable with and that's the type of fine tuning that has been going on with the trains."

The new trains will hold about 90 passengers versus the old trains holding about 60.

No rides have been available since the June 2009 train crash when the train flipped on its side, sending 22 people including children to area hospitals.

Parents and kids watched the training and say they can't wait for the rides to start again.

Eric Moore, an Auburndale Elementary School parent, was volunteering for a school field trip. He saw the excitement students had watching the trains go by. He says, "No real worries. I think once something happens like that, they take all the precautions they can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Right now, the trains are being tested with 10,000 pounds of sandbags to simulate the weight of passengers. So it'll be a little longer before people will get a chance to ride the rails again.

Williams says, "We've gone through everything tremendously. The brand new trains are running great."

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