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Zilker Eagle Mini Train one step closer to getting on the tracks

The train was supposed to debut in fall of 2021 but had the date pushed back for safety.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Zilker Eagle Mini Train is one step closer to getting on the tracks.

The train shared its monthly update on Facebook on Thursday showing brake testing being conducted on the train. According to the post, crews have spent the past few weeks making adjustments to the train.

The train was supposed to debut in fall of 2021 but had the date pushed back for safety.

In an update last month, the Austin Parks Foundation, which operates the train, said plans were moving forward.

It said local engineers were brought on board to make the train safe and functional. The train coaches were taken to an off-site facility to be retrofitted with airbrakes to ensure they’re safe for passengers. They also received new electrical wiring for lights and a PA system.

The Austin Parks Foundation said track adjustments began in late August. Testing is planned for late fall, with the train opening to the public shortly after.

Once given the greenlight, the train will be replacing the longtime Zilker Zephyr. The Zephyr announced its end in early 2020 after its previous vendor cited issues due to erosion from heavy rainfall in 2019.

The parks foundation announced the train's new name in April 2021, a nod to Zilker Park's very first train of 1961.

The new model will look like a 1940s passenger train and, unlike the versions in the past, it is electric-powered and fully accessible to everyone in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

While a majority of the route will remain the same, crews had to alter it slightly to ensure it is not impacted by storm erosion again.

The train will still start at the depot near Barton Springs Pool and make its way along Barton Creek to Lady Bird Lake. However, it will now turn around at Lou Neff Point, just about 100 yards short of where it used to circle back.

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