CSX Santa Train Suspended for 2020

CSX has suspended its annual Santa Train through Appalachia this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead Santa will deliver gifts to the region at more than a dozen designated Food Giant grocery stores using a drive-through process

CSX spokeswoman Cindy Schild told Trains magazine the suspension does not represent the end of the Santa Train.

Schild said the railroad is committed to returning the Santa Train next year if it is safe to do so.

“This is a decision that is being made for this year,” she said. “There are no plans to end this long-standing tradition.”

The Santa Train was started in 1943 by the Kingsport, Tennessee, Chamber of Commerce and the Clinchfield Railroad.

Its route in recent years has extended from CSX’s Shelby Yard in Pikeville, Kentucky, south along the Kingsport Subdivision over more than 100 miles to Kingsport.

It makes numerous en route stops that have dawn large crowd gathered in close proximity to each other, which led to the decision to suspend the train this year for fear of being unable to enforce social distancing.

“The health and safety of our employees, volunteers, attendees and the community is always our top priority when we are planning the Santa Train,” said CSX Corporate Communications Vice President Bryan Tucker in a statement.

“We decided it was in the best interests of all parties to rethink this year’s event amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,”

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