Zilker Zephyr tracks removed, new operator hopes to have train running by next summer

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Last week, the former operators of the Zilker Zephyr train removed the old tracks, which have sat unused since last year. The new operator says it hopes to have the train back up and running by next summer.

The Zilker Zephyr shut down in May 2019 after heavy rains caused erosion near the river. The previous operators, Texas Special, started working with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department on repairs. It and the city couldn’t reach an agreement on a new contract, and it held a photo opportunity in January so Austinites could take a picture with the train. The city tapped the Austin Parks Foundation to take over operations in February.

On Aug. 13, a KXAN photographer went down to the park and took photos and videos of them being removed. The Austin Parks Foundation told KXAN the previous operator was taking them down.

  • Zilker Zephyr train tracks were removed Aug. 13, 2020 (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
  • Zilker Zephyr train tracks were removed Aug. 13, 2020 (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
  • Zilker Zephyr train tracks were removed Aug. 13, 2020 (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
  • Zilker Zephyr train tracks were removed Aug. 13, 2020 (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

“Like all of Austin, we were saddened by the closure of the train from the former operator and we wanted to help. We understand the train has been an important part of Austin’s past and we want to help ensure it’s part of Austin’s future,” APF said in a statement, referencing the train’s longtime operation in the park since 1961.

APF said soon, Zilker Park will undergo a master planning process to determine a new vision for the park. Until that process is complete and future plans for the train are outlined, APF will operate it.

It is currently working with an engineering firm on putting in new tracks, and is working to buy a new train that is both electric-powered and accessible for people with disabilities.

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