Former Kingston Flyer driver and general manager Russell Glendinning has cut ties with the historic steam train after 40 years.
Glendinning, who was general manager when the Flyer ceased operations 18 months ago, is blaming owner and Marlborough wine grower David Bryce for failing to snare a buyer for the historic train.
Bryce was “refusing to accept the actual real value of the asset”, and needed to lower his $2.1 million asking price by at least $500,000, partly because a buyer would face a bill of up to $5 million to bring the engines, carriages and other facilities up to operating standard, Glendinning said.
Bryce has hit back, saying the train never operated successfully under Glendinning’s management.
Glendinning was particularly disappointed negotiations between Bryce and Seattle tourism operator David Rowell collapsed two months ago, as the latter had “done a lot of homework” and appeared to have financial backing.
“The Flyer is deteriorating badly, and its actual worth plus any possible chance of it being repaired has dropped dramatically.”
Bryce, who bought the non-operational Flyer in 2011 and kept it running until April 2013, said Glendinning should ask himself why the train “never operated successfully under his general management over the past 30 years”.
He was optimistic a buyer would be found soon, and was not concerned about deterioration.
“Before I bought it, it had been sitting idle for three years, and we got it going within a couple of months.”
Sales agent Adrian Chisholm said he received “occasional” inquiries about the train.
Otago Daily Times