A RESTORED steam train built in Maryborough will chug into its hometown as part of grand 150th birthday celebrations for Queensland Rail in the new year.
The "beautifully restored" locomotive will stay in Maryborough for three days, as a living rail museum, as part of its journey to whistle its way up the coast to Far North Queensland.
"The train will arrive in Maryborough on the afternoon of January 15 and we are encouraging people to come down and welcome her dressed in period costumes," executive general manager tourist and travel Martin Ryan said.
The train is the centrepiece of a rail festival planned for January 17 in Queens Park before she pulls out of town on her northbound journey.
"A brass band will be playing in the park and locals can picnic and take the time to explore the train again," Mr Ryan said.
In 2015, the Sunlander would retire after 60 years of service and the state-of-the-art Spirit of Queensland fleet would be completed.
"As we enter a new era of rail travel, this special steam train service will be a chance for people to step back in time and experience the roots on which Queensland's rail industry was built," Mr Ryan said.
Queensland Rail senior manager heritage Greg Fill said thousands of hours of painstaking work had gone into restoring the steam train to ensure it was in pristine condition for its journey.
"Staff and volunteers have meticulously and tirelessly overhauled steam locomotives BB18 ¼ 1079 and 1089 and nine wooden carriages that will make their way up to North Queensland," Mr Fill said.
"Both of these heritage steam engines were built in Maryborough and the BB18¼ No.1089 was the last mainline steam locomotive built in Australia in 1958.
"The oldest of the carriages was built in 1902."