Jun 10, 2024 - News

Zilker's mini train to return Wednesday

Two people sit at the front of the train, which reads "Zilker Eagle" with the skyline in the background.

The Zilker Eagle makes its turnaround on a recent ride at Lou Neff Point. Photo: Nicole Cobler/Axios

Zilker Park's iconic mini train is back for the first time since 2019 after years of delays.

Why it matters: The train has long been a Zilker Park staple — offering rides since 1961 — but it ceased operations after a storm eroded the ground along parts of the track.

Driving the news: The Zilker Eagle, previously named the Zilker Zephyr, will depart for its first official ride at 10am Wednesday.

What they're saying: "This is a long time coming," Joy Casnovsky, Austin Parks Foundation's chief mission officer, told Axios during a Monday media event as the train completed its final test rides.

Catch up quick: The city hired the Austin Parks Foundation to operate the train in 2020, but the group continued to push back the launch date over missing brakes and other concerns, which ultimately led the foundation to part ways with its initial train provider.

  • Most recently, the foundation discovered the train's clearance was too low when full of passengers and sent the train coaches to Schertz for adjustments.

Zoom in: The Zilker Eagle will depart from the renovated train depot at 2131 1/2 William Barton Drive.

A photo of the train depot, with the Zilker Eagle in the foreground and the depot in the background.
Riders can purchase their Zilker Eagle tickets and some snacks at the train depot near Barton Springs Pool. Photo: Nicole Cobler/Axios
  • Expect a slightly updated route and a 15-minute ride, which begins near Barton Springs Pool and turns around at Lou Neff Point with scenic views of downtown.
  • The train depot and surrounding site have also been updated with new lighting and landscaping. The train, which can fit up to 66 riders, now has two wheelchair-accessible coaches and a loading ramp.

Of note: Riders will see engineer JC Herrera in the locomotive each day, making his loop around the park and reminding guests to keep their arms and legs inside the train at all times.

  • "I'm not nervous — just excited," he told Axios, adding that he plans to hire and train more employees to help operate the Zilker Eagle. "We're ready to open."
A photo of the train's engineer in the background with reporters crowded around him in the foreground.
The Zilker Eagle's engineer JC Herrera talks to reporters ahead of the train's public opening. Photo: Nicole Cobler/Axios

📍 If you go: The train will operate daily from 10am-6pm.

  • Tickets are $6 for kids and adults and can be purchased from the train depot.
  • Rides are free on the third Wednesday of each month from 10am-2pm, starting on June 19.
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