Posts Tagged ‘Toys for Tots train’

Toys for Tots Train Won’t Operate This Year

November 21, 2019

The Toys for Tots train in New York State has been scrapped after Norfolk Southern declined to agree to host it again.

Sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps, the train distributes toys to children in the Capital Region of the state.

Last year Amtrak declined to cooperate in the running of the train, but NS and private car owners stepped in and rescued it.

In a statement, NS said that it had told Capital Region Toys for Tots last year that it would not participate in the train excursion in the future.

The Toys for Tots train has operated for the past 20 years and in 2018 it operated between Binghamton and Delanson, New York.

Marine Staff Sgt. Patrick Lurenz, who helps coordinate the train, told Trains magazine that the death of former Amtrak President Joseph Boardman last March appeared to have played a role in the train’s demise.

Lurenz said Boardman was a vocal supporter of the train and helped smooth the way for it to run every year.

Bennett Levin, who owns locomotives and passenger cars that operated on last year’s train, said the discussions about this year’s operation never got to the point where a consist was being planned.

He also noted that NS only committed to operate the train last year.

Lurenz said he had discussions with NS about hosting the train this year. “My impression is not that they don’t want to do it, I just don’t think right now they can do it, or it just didn’t happen in time this year,” he said.

“It’s not that we took it for granted. We didn’t know there was that much logistical work to do,” Lurenz told Trains.

In 2018 the Toys for Tots train delivered 18,000 of the 250,000 toys the group distributed to local organizations.

He said most of those organizations cannot afford to send trucks to the distribution centers in the immediate Capital Region.

Therefore, Toys for Tots is working on assembling teams of trucks to handle the deliveries to the localities the train would have served.

Although the toys will get distributed, Lurenz said what will be lost is showing donors a sense of what their gifts mean.

He also said the train served as a publicity tool for the project.

Toys For Tots Train to Run Dec. 1 in New York State

November 30, 2018

Bennett Levin’s former Pennsylvania Railroad E8A locomotives pull a private car charter train on Norfolk Southern tracks at Lowellville, Ohio, on Aug. 7, 2011.

The New York Capital Region Toys for Tots train might be the last hurrah for Bennett Levin’s Pennsylvania Railroad E8A locomotives.

Levin’s locomotives, PRR Nos. 5711 and 5809, will help pull an eight-car “South Distribution Train” on Dec. 1 from Binghamton to Delanson, New York.

This train, which is part of a U.S. Marine Corps charity program will provide gifts to children.

The train in past years has been operated as an Amtrak charter, but the passenger carrier decline to do that this year, citing its new policy prohibiting most charter operations.

The train was saved through the intervention of Levin and others. Those efforts are detailed in a column written by veteran transportation reporter Don Phillips at the Railway Age website.

The column can be found at

Levin has said that his E units will be retired from mainline travel after the completion of Saturday’s trip.

He has said he doesn’t want to invest in installing a positive train control system in the locomotives. The units are expected to be put into long-term storage.

The Toys for Tots train will operate on Norfolk Southern tracks and be led by an NS locomotive.

Other equipment is being provided by the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad and the Morristown & Erie Railroad. Amtrak has agreed to provide two baggage cars to the train.

The train schedule is: 10-10:30 a.m., Binghamton Yard; 11:45 a.m.-12:20 p.m., Bainbridge; 1:15-1:45 p.m., Oneonta; 3-3:25 Cobleskill; and 4-5:30 Delanson.

Toys for Tots Train Cancellation Draws Congressional Ire

August 13, 2018

Amtrak’s decision to cancel a special move in support of a U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots charity drive has drawn the ire of three New York members of Congress.

The three has asked the passenger carrier to reconsider its decision, saying that the annual train helps to collect and distribute donated toys to families in need during the Christmas season.

The Congress members who made the plea to Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson are Paul Tonko (D-New York), John Faso (R-NewYork) and Elise Stefanik (R-New York).

They asked Anderson to reconsider the guidelines that Amtrak cited in declining to run the Toys for Tots train this year.

“We are aware that Amtrak has established a new policy for the operation of charter trains and believe it has every right to do so,” the letter said. “However, ending this important holiday charter service will negatively affect the neediest in our communities and discontinue a positive charitable action that has brought great recognition to Amtrak’s reputation in the eyes of many.

“This holiday season would mark the 20th year of this longstanding and generous service. We have been deeply moved by the spirit of community and love for our children that are expressed through this program and we sincerely hope that the tremendous good it does will not be lost this holiday season.”

The policy change Amtrak cited was issued last March and generally to special moves and charter trains.