AUSTIN, Texas - Efforts are underway to restore the iconic Zilker Eagle, the miniature train at Zilker Park. The City of Austin says mechanical repairs delayed the train from opening last year.
The Austin Parks Foundation has been posting monthly updates on the Zilker Eagle's page, the most recent post addressed the brake problems that stopped the train from hitting the tracks last year.
In a video posted on X (formerly known as Twitter), prototype brake testing is being done for the safety of the passengers on the train, after the Austin Parks Foundation announced the delay of the Zilker Eagle's opening in October last year.
"You don't want to have any issues, and if you are bringing it back, it's good that they are taking all the steps to make sure it will be good," said Olivia Knox, who rode the miniature train when it was formerly called the Zilker Zephyr.
The train was known as the Zilker Zephyr for decades, but closed in 2019 due to erosion under the tracks. When contract negotiations collapsed, the Zilker Zephyr operators took the train with them.
Since then, the city and the Austin Parks Foundation have worked on replacing the train with the Zilker Eagle.
Knox remembers the closure of the former train and the days she was able to ride through Zilker Park.
"The wholesome of being a child and riding on a train and being like the fun thing you did that day," she recalled. "You know, it's kind of like innocence. You're just like so present in the moment, like everyone is usually like on the phone or something, but now they are outside riding a train, the simple things in life."
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Hearing about the Austin Parks Foundation's plans for the train to return after the setbacks sparked joy for her and others anticipating a ride on the tracks.
"I'm so excited," Knox said. "I think it’s great for kids in Barton Springs, then you have Zilker, so it's fun that there is an activity for little kids to do, too."
"That is always comforting to know that you are going to have a safe ride, and it is going to be pleasurable and enjoyable for the kids and for the adults," said JR Cordona, a Zilker Park visitor. "I would like to ride the train."
To ensure the ride is safe, crews have also been making adjustments to the tracks for the past few weeks.