Like most romances, the one with rail can empty a wallet in a flash, which is why steam train enthusiasts have turned their love affair into a business.
Income from hauling empty rolling stock to and from repairers will fund long haul steam train journeys from Canberra for an international tourist market.
The Australian Railway Historical Society's ACT division, which turns over $1 million annually, cannot afford steep maintenance and insurance costs which have sent other heritage groups, including the iconic Zig Zag Railway, to the wall.
The ACT division's 300-strong membership includes engineers, administrators, military people and many other talents.
Shunting steam loco 3013 on the weekend, for example, was former F/A-18 jet pilot Paul Nowland, from Nowra.
The train's driver and society president Peter Anderson is a former Canberra information technology systems analyst. On a Churchill scholarship studying rail heritage in the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, he concluded the only way to fund safety systems - the biggest cost for operators - was to go into business.
''Overseas heritage operators are dovetailing into the commercial sector, filling in gaps for commercial operators, helping them, not competing with them, on the mainstream commercial operators,'' he said.
The ACT division's first customer is the Chicago Freight Car Leasing Co, which has a 10- year lease on Goulburn Railway Workshops, where it maintains some of its $350 million fleet of locomotives and wagons.
The society also earns several thousand dollars providing ticketing services for CountryLink at Queanbeyan, and receives substantial support from the NSW Government to meet its public liability insurance of $250 million.
As a commercial operator it will turn over several million annually, but must pay its own insurance. For rolling stock alone this will come to more than $100,000 annually.
The O'Farrell government is to shed 900 staff in a major overhaul of RailCorp which could provide more commercial opportunities for the society, including services for the ACT's railway station in Kingston.
The society is restoring a monster Beyer-Garratt 60-class steam engine weighing 260 tonnes. As the largest locomotive ever to run in Australia, it is bound to generate intense interest among international steam buffs.
''There's huge interest internationally for the Garrett style of engine - it is two engines in one,'' Mr Anderson said.
''We could go to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, all over the shop with this particular engine.''
Regular short trips to Bungendore attract hundreds of passengers, but insufficient to cover overall operating costs.