New River Train Sponsor Facing Hard Times

The organization that has long sponsored the annual New River Train in West Virginia was already having financial difficulties before Amtrak hiked the fees it charges to handle the train, Trains magazine reported last week.

The magazine reported on its website that the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society has posted deficits during many years over the past decade.

The Society had earlier this year announced it would not operate the New River Train this year and pointed to increased costs imposed by Amtrak.

Citing the opinion of a Kentucky-based certified public accounting, the report indicated that posting deficits is not necessarily a problem for a non-profit organization provided that it earns enough revenue to achieve its mission.

The accountant noted that a non-profit organization is not in business to make money, but like any business it must have enough cash in the bank to be able to cover its expenses.

Trains quoted a Society volunteer as saying that the organization despite the deficits was doing fine until Amtrak increased its fees.

He said that rising costs, which included expenses unrelated to Amtrak fees, was squeezing the New River Train.

That created a situation in which the society decided it could no longer increase ticket prices to cover the increased costs for fear that ridership would fall and the train would lose even more revenue.

The volunteer and a member of the group’s board of directors said the Society has been able in past year to raise money through various other activities, including private car trips to Washington and New York on Amtrak’s Cardinal.

However, the New River Train was the Society’s primary fundraising event.

The Trains report reviewed forms that the Society filed with the federal government and which can be viewed online.

The Society volunteer said the organization has been chipping away at a $130,000 deficit, some of which was reduced by having members pay small bills and expenses out of their own pockets.
Efforts to gain money from the state have met with mixed success.

The New River Train typically operated between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia.

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