Tourist Train Ridership Strong, but Inflation is Starting to Take a Toll on their Economics

Ridership of tourist railroads has been strong this summer, but rising costs of diesel fuel and other expenses are threatening to crimp the economics of those operations, a Trains magazine report said.

The report on the magazine’s website quoted the U.S. Travel Association as saying that Americans spent $101 billion on travel in May with the American Automobile Association projecting 48 millions were expected to travel during the July 4th holiday weekend. That would be a 4 percent increase over the same period in 2021 and about what it was in pre-COVID 19 pandemic times.

Tourist railroad officials interviewed by Trains said they have seen high demand for tickets but economic uncertainty rooted in rising inflation may be leading some to curtail their spending on leisure activities.

One of the tourist railroads cited in the story was the The Cincinnati Scenic Railway and the Lebanon Mason & Monroe Railroad in Southwest Ohio.

Ray Kammer Jr., president of the two tourist rail operations, said ticket sales in recent weeks have fallen slightly for weekday train rides. However, ridership of special event trains continues to be what it was last year.

Kammer said the loss of ridership for weekday trains probably is due to fewer people traveling from out the region due to higher gasoline and lodging costs. Most riders, he said, live within a day’s drive of the railroad.

The railroad has taken steps to reduce its costs by cutting back locomotive idle time and installing electrified locomotive hot starts.

The story can be read at

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