MUSIC millionaire and self-confessed train enthusiast Pete Waterman launched Chester Zoo’s revamped monorail train.
The former Pop Idol judge took controls of the passenger train for its maiden voyage across the park.
The motor and mechanics of the monorail – the only one of its kind in the country – have been updated, making the 24-seater train completely automated, faster, smoother and more efficient.
Pete, 62, who lives in Cheshire and owns the London and North Western Railway Company in Crewe, inspected the control room before boarding the train for a tour of the zoo.
Speaking exclusively to the Chronicle, he said “Ever since getting my first train set as a boy in 1951, I have always been surrounded by trains.
“I have travelled on the monorail here before with my kids and they love because to them it is just a big toy train.
“It’s more sophisticated now though than when I last rode it.
“It’s a fantastic way to get around and see the zoo and the animals here are just fantastic.”
The upgrade cost £300,000 and is the latest development to be unveiled by the zoo, which this year released plans for a £225m expansion to include a bio-dome rainforest attraction.
More than 25 miles of cable were laid in the redevelopment of the monorail, which was about 18 years old before the revamp.
The redesign of the monorail was completed by Tom Yates of T&M Machine Tools Electronics.
Head of visitor services Lynne Walker said having Pete as their first passenger was a coup for the zoo.
She said: “We’re thrilled Pete boarded the Zoofari Railway. As well as being a fun visitor attraction, it’s a fascinating, fully recognised railway.”