Trains back on track at Louisville Zoo - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Trains back on track at Louisville Zoo

John Walczak John Walczak

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It may not be the reason people go to the zoo, but it sure has been missed. Tuesday for the first time in four years, people hopped on the train at the Louisville Zoo.

Visitors say they've felt the lack of the train since it derailed in June 2009, causing 22 people on board to be taken to area hospitals. State investigators determined the train was going too fast, it was not in good condition and the operator was not properly trained.

Now the tradition of the train is back. It's been running since 1969 with now a four-year hiatus.

When Amy Brooks Hoffmann and her family showed up Tuesday at the Louisville Zoo, right away they heard something was different. Tuesday, the whistle of the new train to circle the tracks welcomed riders for what the zoo is calling a "soft opening"

"So that we can make sure we're providing the very best customer service," said Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak.

He says while it may be the first time zoo visitors are riding the new train, it's not the first time for passengers. Staff members have been riding for weeks to make sure the training and safety upgrades are flawless.

"We've hired a training consultant, an expert who has done this for over 30 years throughout the attraction's profession," Walczak said. "All of our staff have been tested and trained. We're really, really proud of every step that we've taken to make sure that this ride is going to be an enjoyable, fun experience."

"I feel very confident in the administration and the staff here at the zoo," said Brooks Hoffman.  "I know they're good people. I think it was a terrible, unfortunate accident a few years ago. I used to ride the train when I was a girl so it's fun to bring my boys here today."

Walczak said in addition to a new train and new training of staff, each train will now have two people on board: a conductor and an engineer. The zoo feels these type of redundancies will keep another accident from happening.

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