Posts Tagged ‘excursion trains’

Excursion Trains Draw Some Opposition From Union

March 19, 2021

A proposal by tour train operator Rocky Mountaineer to launch service between Denver and Moab, Utah, has drawn opposition from a railroad labor union.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen told the U.S. Surface Transportation Board it opposes some aspects of the service.

In particular, the union is disputing Rocky Mountaineer’s request for an exemption “from virtually the entirety of the Interstate Commerce Act as amended by the ICC Termination Act.”

Although the union acknowledged that some exemptions are appropriate it said those sections dealing with safety, efficiency, and fair wages and safe and suitable working conditions remain relevant, and the company should not be exempted from them.

 “The board has a duty to ensure that [American Rocky Mountaineer’s ]operations are safe, that ARM does not negatively impact safe and efficient operations of [Union Pacific, which will host the trains], and that ARM’s operations are not detrimental to public health and safety,” the filing states. “… ARM should only be exempted from specific provisions that truly do not apply to its operations, and where ARM is truly different from other carriers,” the union said in its filing.

Rocky Mountaineer Delays Canadian Season Start

March 13, 2021

Rocky Mountaineer will delay the start of its Canadian season until June 1, while adding four weeks to its planned inaugural season in Colorado and Utah.

The founder and CEO of the luxury rail service, Peter Armstrong, said the delay in launching the 2021 season in Canada reflects continued uncertainty over when the Canadian and provincial governments will lift travel restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Rocky Mountaineer service between Denver and Moab, Utah, is scheduled to begin Aug. 15 and will now operate through Nov. 19.

That is an additional 16 departure dates with other additional dates possible as more railcars are added to the service.

Rocky Mountaineer Cancels 2020 Season

July 23, 2020

A tour operator in Western Canada has canceled its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rocky Mountaineer, a luxury tour train operator, said it will not attempt to operate this year due to the pandemic.

“Despite the challenging environment, we remained hopeful we would be able to operate our trains at some point this season,” said Steve Sammut, president and CEO, said in a news release. “However, given the continuing government travel and health restrictions, we have no choice but to postpone our rail tours until the scheduled start of our 2021 season.”

Those holding reservations are being directed to contact Rocky Mountaineer to reschedule for the 2021 or 2022 seasons.

Agawa Canyon Train Canceled for 2020

June 12, 2020

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train will not operate in 2020.

The operator announced this week that it was canceling this year’s season “in the interest of public health and safety.”

A notice posted on its website indicated that the cancellation “is in line with existing restrictions at both the provincial and federal levels.”

The train provide a 114-mile excursion from Sault Ste. Marie

However, work is continuing on building a new station in Sault Ste. Marie, funded partly with $5 million from the province of Ontario.

Rocky Mountaineer Suspension Extended to July 31

May 16, 2020

Rail tour operator Rocky Mountaineer has extended the suspension of its 2020 travel season until July 31.

Those booked on a canceled trip will receive a future travel credit of 110 percent of the value of their fare.

The credit will be valid through the end of the 2022 season.

Rocky Mountaineer said it would freeze 2021 fares at the 2020 level.

Those whose 2020 trip was canceled and who rebook a similar package for next year within 14 days on either side of the original departure date anniversary will receive a guarantee that they will not pay more for the new package, including third-party hotels, tours and attractions, due to the later travel date.

7 Domes to be in Autumn Colors Express Consist

August 9, 2019

Dome cars will be plentiful in the consist of the Autumn Colors Express when it travels in October in West Virginia.

The train will have three Amtrak locomotives and 29 private cars, many of which once operated on the New River Train.

Bookending the consist will be Milwaukee Road Cedar Rapid, the eastbound tail car, and Pennsylvania Railroad Frank Thompson as the westbound tail car.

Among the seven dome cars will be Northern Pacific No. 549, a Budd short dome, and Silver Palace, a former California Zephyr car.

Other noteworthy cars in the consist will be six Budd-built cars that originally had cars and traction motors for service in the Northeast Corridor.

Similar in design to Amtrak’s Amfleet cars, the former self-propelled vehicles will used as coaches.

No Amtrak cars will be included in the consist.

The Autumn Colors Express excursions will depart from Huntington on Oct. 25-27. Tickets can be purchased at

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.

Michigan Group Buys Pacific Parlor Cars

March 22, 2019

A Michigan museum and excursion operator has acquired two passenger cars once used as first-class lounges on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.

Trains magazine reported this week that the Steam Railroading Institute of Owosso, Michigan, bought the former Pacific Parlour Cars, which had been built by Budd in 1956 for the Santa Fe as Hi-Level lounges.

SRI plans to use the car on excursion trains, including its annual North Pole Express holiday trips pulled by 2-8-4 No. 1225, a former Pere Marquette Berkshire-type locomotive.

The cars were reported to be located at Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis, but are expected to be ferried to Michigan soon.

Trains said that SRI officials would not discuss how much the cars cost other than to say the price tag was fairly high.

SRI officials expect to recoup its investment through ticket sales of Christmas season trips.

The cars are also expected to be assigned to fall foliage specials operating on State of Michigan-own track between Mount Pleasant and Cadillac in early October.

Few changes to the interiors of the cars are expected to be made for now, but officials said the lower-level theater seating might be replaced by washrooms, wheelchair accommodations, coach seating or other uses.

The upper lounge and dining seating upstairs will be used to offer catered meal service.

Amtrak Fall Excursion Train Tickets on Sale

September 12, 2017

Amtrak will bring back its Autumn Express excursions for trips on Oct. 14 and 15.

The train will operate from New York Penn Station through the Hudson River Valley.

An Amtrak news release said that the train will depart initially depart for Newark, New Jersey, where it will board passengers and make the transition from electric to diesel power.

The train will then continue to Jersey City, New Jersey, for a glimpse of New York harbor  before heading north along the west bank of the Hudson River.

Amtrak said the excursion will include rare mileage along a route that hasn’t seen regular passenger service in decades.

The train will pass the Bear Mountain Bridge, Storm King Mountain, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Newburgh, and the Poughkeepsie Bridge in New York State.

It will then head inland, passing through Kingston, Catskill, Athens and Ravena.

After reversing direction again before crossing Hudson on the Alfred H. Smith Memorial Bridge at Castleton, it will descend onto the Amtrak Hudson for a 112-mile run down the eastern shore of the Hudson River on the former New York Central Water Level Route.

Highlights of this segment of the trip include Hudson, Rhinecliff, Pollepel Island (Bannerman’s Castle), Break Neck Tunnel, and Peekskill. Finally, the Autumn Express will cross the Spuyten Duyvil moveable bridge and follow the Amtrak Empire Connection the final 12 miles to New York Penn Station.

Tickets will go on sale today and are $169 for adults. Children ages 2 to 12 ride for half-price with each adult ticket. Passenger will receive a box lunch, souvenir tote and lapel pin.

Excursion to Use ex-ICRR Tracks in Mississippi

September 22, 2016

An excursion will run in Mississippi on Oct. 23 over the original route of Amtrak’s Chicago-New Orleans Panama Limited and City of New Orleans.

The train will have Iowa Pacific equipment, which has the orange and chocolate brown livery of the former Illinois Central line to be traveled, now operated by the Grenada Railroad.

iowa-pacificThe 96-mile roundtrip excursion will depart at 10 a.m. from Horn Lake en route to Batesville for views of the peak fall foliage season in Mississippi. The trip will last five hours.

Passengers will have the opportunity to purchase an on-board lunch with a bit of Mississippi flavor to it for a separate charge.

The route to be traveled was  once used IC’s City of New Orleans and Panama Limited.

On board employees will be dressed in traditional conductor and waiter uniforms.

The equipment will include two E8A locomotives and five passenger cars, including the Calumet Club once used on the IC’s City of Miami and the Paducah once used on the Panama Limited and City of New Orleans.

The boarding site is at 6780 Center Street East in Horn Lake. For tickets call: 877-334-4783 or visit