Posts Tagged ‘Collis P Huntington Railroad Historical Society’

2019 New River Train Now Set to Go

August 2, 2019

The long awaited announcement of the return of the New River Train will be made Friday by Rail Excursion Management Company.

The train will operate under the name Autumn Colors Express on the weekend of Oct. 25-27 between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia.

Ticket sales will begin Aug. 5.

Amtrak agreed earlier this week to a contract with Rail Excursion for the 2019 trains after some prodding by West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin.

Manchin had said on Twitter in May that the New River Train would return, but various operational issues had to be ironed out before it was official.

The former operator of the train, the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, had in February canceled the train, citing financial issues.

Rail Excursion said it believes it can reduce the cost of the excursion by keeping its operations to one weekend, therefore avoiding car storage costs.

It also plans to replace a commissary car with additional seating and serving food to all passengers in their seats.

In previous years the New River Train operated over two weekends.

As in past years, private rail cars will be used as part of the excursions.

Providing support for the excursion will be the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society.

The latter has operated excursions behind its 2-8-4 Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

New River Train Sponsor Facing Hard Times

April 21, 2019

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.

Amtrak Says it Would Have Run New River Train

March 4, 2019

Amtrak contends that it would have continued to operate the annual New River Train had its sponsors wished to do so.

However, the sponsor, the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, said last week it would cancel the train for 2019, citing increasing Amtrak fees.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said Amtrak and the Society had discussions about operating the New River Train this year.

“We wanted to retain business with the historical society since we viewed the potential charter as a positive business relationship,” Woods said.

The Society said the New River Train lost more than $100,000 in 2018 due to rising costs, which included unexpected mileage and operating expenses that arose in the months before the trip.

The New River Train has operated for more than 50 years, usually in West Virginia between Huntington and Hinton.

Rising Amtrak Fees Prompt New River Train Cancellation

February 27, 2019

Amtrak’s changing practices pertaining to private rail cars have claimed another victim, the New River Train.

The Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society said this week that it will not operate the train this year due to high fees demanded by Amtrak.

The excursions have operated for 52 years, usually between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia, during two weekends in October.

Trains magazine reported that the society said Amtrak jacked up its fees to operate the train by 9.6 percent two weeks after it gave the organization a price quote in January operate the service.

Society officials decided that the fees would make it uneconomical to run the excursion this year.

Amtrak said rising labor costs attributed to its increasing its initial price quote.

The 2018 New River Train lost more than $100,000, which society officials attributed to Amtrak’s raising fees after the trip had been announced.

The 2018 trip had been budgeted based on Amtrak’s published Oct. 1, 2017, tariffs.

The New River Train was the last scheduled mainline passenger operation in the United States. Earlier this year the last scheduled steam mainline excursion, the Denver Post train to Cheyenne, Wyoming, over Union Pacific rails, was canceled for this year.

The New River Train typically carried 4,800 passengers in 30-car consists. Many of those cars were privately owned rail cars.

At various times during its five-decade run the New River Train was pulled by steam locomotives, including Nickel Plate Road No. 765, Milwaukee Road No. 261, Chesapeake & Ohio No. 614, and Pere Marquette No. 1225.

The train provides an estimated $8 million annual economic benefit to West Virginia, particularly to Hinton where it lays over during its daylight run.

Society officials said they hope the suspension of the New River Train is only temporary.

Amtrak, W.Va. Officials to Talk About New River Train

April 16, 2018

Amtrak executives will meet on Tuesday with public officials from West Virginia to discuss the future of the New River Train, which operates annually in the fall between Huntington and Hinton.

The train, which has operated for the past 51 years, was reportedly in danger of being canceled after Amtrak said last month that it would no longer operate specials and charters.

The passenger carrier has also been restricting the use of its trains by privately-owned rail cars although a formal policy in that regard has yet to be announced.

Last week some West Virginia officials indicated that Amtrak had said it would make an exception to its policy to enable the New River Train to continue operating.

There has been discussion that Amtrak might be amendable to allow select specials on routes over which it runs regularly scheduled trains.

The New River Train uses the route of the tri-weekly Chicago-Washington Cardinal.

The train, sponsored by the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, has been touted for its economic impact, which has been put at $5 million.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin asked Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson for a meeting to discuss the future of the New River Train.

“I will continue doing everything I can to fix this problem,” Manchin said in a news release.

W.Va. Congressman Protests Amtrak Policy Change

April 2, 2018

A West Virginia Congressman whose district includes Huntington, is trying to rally opposition to an Amtrak policy change that will in effect wipe out operation of the New River Train.

Amtrak said in a memorandum sent to employees last week that it will cease handling chartered and special train movements.

Evan Jenkins, who represents West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, has written to Amtrak President Richard Anderson to protest the policy, saying it will hurt the state’s tourism industry.

The New River Train is operated by the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society and has run over former Chesapeake & Ohio tracks for 51 years.

The Society estimates the New River Train has an economic impact of $3.5 million in the Huntington region and $1 million in Hinton, West Virginia, the eastern destination of the train.

About 90 percent of New River Train passengers are from out of state.

Ann Adkins, a spokesperson for the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau, said losing the train would be devastating to West Virginia in general and particularly to Huntington and Hinton.

Holiday Train to Operate From Huntington

October 25, 2017

A holiday theme train using Amtrak and private equipment will operate out of Huntington, West Virginia, in December on the CSX Kanawha Subdivision.

The Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society is hosting the Huntington Holiday Express between Dec. 14 and 17.

The train will make a 25-mile roundtrip excursion on former Chesapeake & Ohio tracks to Barboursville, West Virginia.

The train will have Amtrak P42DC locomotives on each end. Tickets are $55 for adults and $45 per child.

Each trip will take approximately an hour. The consist is expected to include six passenger cars, including three Amtrak café cars and three private cars.

Onboard amenities will include hot cocoa, cookies, and such Christmas activities as a visit from Santa Claus.

Best known for its New River Train fall foliage excursions, this will be the society’s first Christmas train on CSX rails.

New River Trains Mark 50th Anniversary

October 22, 2016

Chartered trains through West Virginia’s New River Gorge marked their 50th anniversary this month.

West VirginiaThe trains are sponsored by the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society and operated this year between Huntington and Hinton on the third and fourth weekends of the month.

Past years have seen such steam locomotives as the Nickel Plate Road No. 765, Milwaukee Road No. 261 and Pere Marquette No. 1225 pull the trains, but these days the motive power is Amtrak P40DC and P42DC locomotives.

The trains travel over the Kanawha and New River subdivisions of CSX.

For the 2016 trips, Amtrak assigned heritage units  822 and 156 to the 30-car trains, which included 24 private cars.

Among the private varnish in the consist this year was: Passaic River, Powhatan Arrow, St. Augustine, Wenonah, Nokomis, Lake Pepin, Alexander Hamilton, Wisconsin Valley, Super, Dome, Dover Harbor, Prairie View, Scenic View, Braddock Inn, New York Central 38, New York Central 43, Morris County, Birken Diner, New York Central 448 Diner, Kitchi Gammi Club, J. Pickney Henderson, Berlin, Moonlight Dome, Silver Lariat, and Dearing.

Flood Aid Sent in Rail Cars

July 6, 2016

The West Virginia-based Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society has shipped cleaning supplies, food and other items by rail to help victims of the recent flooding in the group’s home state.

West VirginiaThe donations were sent in two passenger cars owned by the group in cooperation with Amtrak, which attached them to the rear of the eastbound Cardinal.

The car was unloaded in White Sulphur Springs, which is located in a region hard hit by the flooding. The donated goods were taken to a distribution center.

The group, based in Huntington, received more than $300 in membership donations and another $400 from the community.

The passenger cars continued on to Washington for an Independence Day event.