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Dining car coming to Owen Sound

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A rail line may not return to Owen Sound anytime soon, but a Canadian National Railway dining car will make the city its home later this year.

The Community Waterfront Heritage Centre on Thursday launched a campaign to bring the dining car from Keswick, Ont., some 170 kilometres away, to the centre on the harbour's west side. The dining car is expected to arrive in the city in the late summer or early fall with installation along the harbour tentatively planned for sometime in 2016.

"It is very exciting," said Jan Chamberlain, chairwoman of the CN dining car project. "We see it as a really good way to help revitalize the harbour and make it a destination for people to come down there."

The heritage centre won the bid for the 1953 dining car last year, after the town of Georgina decided to offload it.

"It was actually free to an owner, we had to bid on it on Kijiji," said Chamberlain. "Because we came up with a very good plan for its future, we . . . got it, but we had to guarantee that we would move it."

A launch event Thursday for the project included an announcement of a fundraising initiative to help cover the estimated $30,000 cost to move the car. Raffle tickets will be sold for $25 for a one-week luxury train package for two to Quebec City with accommodations at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac.

The move is just the first phase of a plan that will see the car converted into an educational and historic display with a community space and an ice cream parlour.

When the car arrives in Owen Sound it will be taken to a secure site where it will be renovated and refurbished, before being moved to the heritage centre.

"We will have to put services in with the city because it has two washrooms in it and a full kitchen," said Chamberlain. "It will need the water and sewers run to it and that will all be part of the next phase."

The 85-foot long dining car is to be placed on a stretch of railway tracks south of the caboose now at the heritage centre site.

"We are going to move the caboose a little further north so when people drive by it will look like a train is at the station," Chamberlain said.

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