Posts Tagged ‘tourist railroads’

Rain Damages WMSR Track, Trips Cancelled

September 12, 2022

Recent rains damaged the tracks of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, prompting the tourist railroad to cancel trains through Sept. 11.

Officials said the damage occurred to about 250 feet of track on the West Virginia side of the North Branch Potomac River.

That meant trains were unable to cross the river to reach the station in Cumberland, Maryland. No equipment was damaged by the flooding.

Workers have since been dispatched to repair the damaged track. The next scheduled excursions on the WMSR are set for Sept. 15.

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

July 17, 2022

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

Tourist Railroads Struggle to Get Staff

March 23, 2022

Tourist railroads are struggling to attract enough workers to cover all of their functions, Trains magazine reported in an analysis posted on its website.

That could be a problem as the summer peak season approaches.

Roger Fuehring, president of the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance, said the problem in part is generational.

He said many younger people are more interested in the Internet, technology and remote jobs than in hands-on physical labor that can be exhausting and dirty.

The Trains analysis noted that the U.S. Travel Association said about a third of the jobs in leisure and hospitality vanished during the COVID-19 pandemic and the sector’s unemployment rate is above 6 percent compared with 3.9 percent in the overall workforce.

Tourist railroads have particularly had a hard time attracting people with specific skills, such as welding, that are in high demand elsewhere.

Some of the tourist railroad officials interviewed by Trains said attracting volunteers has also been a challenge.

Those officials said tourist railroads may need to raise fares to generate more money to pay competitive wages to their paid workers.

The story can be read at

Tourist Railroads Expect Robust 2022 Season

March 5, 2022

Tourist and heritage railroads can look forward to robust business this summer, an analysis published on the website of Trains magazine concluded.

The analysis cited projections from various tourist organizations of increased travel this year with Americans expected to spend $726 billion on leisure travel, which is near pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

Tourist railroad and private railroad car association officials interviewed by Trains said advance ticket sales for this year have been strong with some trips sold out months in advance.

However, one official said it will take years to recoup revenue lost during the pandemic when some tourist railroads had to shut down or operate at reduced capacity.

Ray Kammer Jr., president of the Cincinnati Railway Company and the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad expects it will take two or three years before his organization recovers from the revenue loss it suffered in 2020.

To read the article visit

C&O 1309 Makes Another Successful Test Run

December 10, 2021

Former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 made a test run this week that officials said was trouble free and clears the way for the locomotive to pull Polar Express trains next week on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

WMSR general manager Wesley Heinz told a newspaper published in Cumberland, Maryland, that some adjustments to the 1309 will be made before it begins revenue service between Cumberland and Frostburg.

Additional test runs are expected to be made next week as well.

Heinz said the tourist railroad has sold 22,000 Polar Express tickets this year with all tickets for the Dec. 17 through 19 excursions having been sold.

Cincinnati Tourist RR Faces Uncertain Future

August 27, 2021

A Cincinnati area tourist railroad faces an uncertain future due infrastructure work that could reach $2.5 million over the next decade.

Much of that involves replacing bridges along the route.

The Lebanon, Mason & Monroe Railroad is operated by the Cincinnati Scenic Railway, which also sponsors excursions in western Ohio operating as The Ohio Rail Experience.

The LM&M uses track owned by the city of Lebanon, which helps fund the tourist train’s operations.

The current operating agreement will expire on Jan. 1, 2023, and the CSR is negotiating a new agreement with the city. The costs of replacing bridges has become a sticking point in the talks.

An LM&M spokesman said the tourist railroad is “aggressively pursuing” grant opportunities to help fund the repairs.

However, some fear that the LM&M will cease operations at the end of 2022.

City manager Scott Brunka said negotiations over the new agreement are in their early stages. He characterized supporting for the railroad as “a sound investment in Lebanon’s future, as well as the right thing to do.”

WMSR Names New Executive Director

August 27, 2021

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has named Wesley Heinz as its executive director.

He replaces John Garner who stepped down from the position temporarily in June to attend to health and family concerns.

Heinz has been acting executive director in the interim. He previously was executive director at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum in Portland, Maine, and has a background in

Historic preservation, fundraising, and marketing.

His work has included serving on operating and restoration crews for numerous steam locomotives, including Western Maryland’s project to restore Cheasapeake & Ohio  2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

WMSR Using Dome Car on Excursions

July 6, 2021

A former Amtrak done car has begun revenue service on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The car is former former Great Northern Railway full-length dome Ocean View.

It has been repainted and lettered  for the WMSR and will make regular runs between Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland.

The car was built in 1955, one of six full length-domes built for GN and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy.

Amtrak acquired all six of the domes and assigned them to its Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle until the domes were replaced with new Superliner Equipment in 1979.

In recent years, Amtrak’s last dome car on its active roster was used for special occasions on select trains, including the Adirondack and Downeaster.

Retired in 2018, Ocean View was offered for sale in 2019, eventually being purchased by Paxrail.

Chasing the NY&LE (Part 2)

June 16, 2021

Second of two parts

After the New York & Lake Erie excursion train arrived at South Dayton, passengers disembarked for a 30-minute layover.

We watched and photographed as the locomotive ran around to the other end of the train for the return to Gowanda.

We then toured the station, which was open during the layover. We enjoyed the displays and photo albums from local residents of Robert Redford, Steve Martin, John Candy, and the former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-4 No. 4070 during the visits in the 1980s.

Many of the locals were very lucky to have photos of and with the celebrities.

At about 3:15 p.m. the train departed for the return trip. We chased it and got a few more photographs.

In the images above we see changing ends at South Dayton, approaching Markhams Road after passing Dole Street, the train at East Hill Street dropping down into Gowanda.

Back in Gowanda, we see the train passing a derelict Contrack coach that Marty, myself and Craig Sanders had seen in 2017 during a trip to Arcade & Attica.

Finally, here is No. 1013 as it appears today and No. 1013 as it appeared during an Akron Railroad Club/Railroad Enthusiasts charter trip on April 26, 1987

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

WMSR Resumes Excursions This Weekend

May 28, 2021

Excursions will resume this weekend on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The 90-minute trips will be pulled by diesel locomotives and include a new open-air car and a dome car.

They will be the first excursions on the tourist railroad in more than a year with service having been suspended for most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trips are scheduled to depart on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Capacity for each trip is limited to 250 people.

Excursions pulled by former Chesapeake & Ohio steam locomotive No. 1309 will be announced at a later date.