Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia tourist railroads’

W.Va. Tourist Railroad Cancels Polar Express Trips

August 14, 2021

West Virginia tourist railroad Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad has cancelled its Polar Express holiday trains for the second consecutive year.

D&GV president John Smith cited a surge of cases in the COVID-19 pandemic for the action.

“The Polar Express is very up close and personal with children and it would be a disaster to try and put 280 people on that train for an hour and a half with the coronavirus going out of control again,” he said. “We would be remiss if we were the cause of an increase of those getting infected, especially among young people.”

The Randolph County Commission said that in 2019 that since the Polar Express debut in 2011, it had attracted 80,000 visitors, including 16,000 in 2018.

Freight Revenue Helped Get Some Tourist Railroads Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 16, 2021

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic last year are all too familiar to John Smith, president of the West Virginia-based Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.

Based in Elkins, West Virginia, the railroad and its subsidiaries carried 84,000 passengers in 2019.

Ridership in 2020 was 22,000. Aside from the D&GV, the carrier also operates the West Virginia Central (former Western Maryland), Cass Scenic Railroad, and Durbin Rocket (former Chesapeake & Ohio Greenbrier River Branch) in West Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley Railroad (former Norfolk Southern) in Virginia.

Of those carriers, the Cass Scenic carried 14,000 and 8,000 rode the Durbin Rocket.

The New Tygart Flyer and Cheat Mountain Salamander, did not operate in 2020, largely because they use sealed-window passenger cars. The Cass Scenic and Durbin Rocket were able to run because they had open window cars.

Some tourist railroads were able to earn some extra revenue by offering freight service.

That boosted the Shenandoah Valley Railroad in particular. Some tourist railroads in 2020 were able to make money by storing freight cars for Class I railroads and private owners.

Work Underway on W.Va. Rail Bridge

December 15, 2020

Work has begun on constructing a bridge that will enable the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley to restore rail service between Cass and Durbin in West Virginia.

The bridge will span Trout Run and the project involves the West Virginia Department of Highways, the West Virginia State Rail Authority, D&G and contractors.

Thus far workers have been drilling holes into the bedrock and pouring foundations on the Durbin side of the bridge.

Equipment is is now being staged for work on the Cass side and can only reach the bridge site by traveling 15 miles by rail.

While drilling and foundation work is being performed on the Cass end of the bridge workers will be building forms for the abutment on the Durbin end.

Connecting Track Opening Delayed Until Fall

June 16, 2019

The opening of a connection between two West Virginia tourist railroads has been delayed until fall.

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is building a connection with the Cass Scenic Railroad, but said project has been delayed by the need to replace a bridge.

The project, which is being overseen by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, had been progressing on schedule.

The agency is creating a design for the new bridge but work on the structure is now expected to be finished by mid-to-late fall. That will prohibit regular excursions in the fall.

The existing 40-foot bridge spans Trout Run and was damaged during flooding in 1985.

Engineers thought a new bridge could be built on the existing abutments or through a culvert-type design, but they later determined that a new structure is needed.

The state is funding and designing the new bridge.

More than 10 miles of track between Cass and Durbin has been rebuilt using more than 17,000 crossties and thousands of tons of ballast.

The connecting track between the two railroads had been expected to open during the annual Rail Heritage Weekend of  Sept. 6-8, 2019.

The weekend festival will still be held, but operations will be focused out of Durbin south and from Cass to the north, meeting at Trout Run.

For more information, go to www.mountainrail.com.

Steamer Restoration Finish Expected Soon

June 4, 2019

Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia expected to finish in less than 12 weeks the restoration of Middle Fork Climax No. 9.

Trains magazine reported that the locomotive is awaiting the arrival this week of its steam chest as well as new air tanks.

Once those parts are on hand workers will reassemble the drive shaft. The locomotive passed a boiler test last March.

Officials at the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, who oversees the Cass, expect No. 9 to appear during the Rail Heritage Weekend of Sept. 6-8.

However, no date has been announced as to when No. 9 will be under steam.

Cass to Hold Heritage Weekend in May

January 11, 2018

A three-day railfan event will be hosted May 18-20 at the Cass Scenic Railroad.

Billed as a heritage weekend, it is oriented toward railfan enthusiasts, historians, and photographers with an appreciation for geared steam locomotives and rail preservation. Tickets are $275 per person.

The opening events on May 18 include a special dinner and night photo session at Whittaker Station, the first in more than 10 years.

On Saturday, there will be a daytime photo session to Spruce, featuring steam-powered freight and passenger consists.

That evening another photo shoot will be held at Cass and feature views inside the Cass Shops and an opportunity to take photos of multiple locomotives under steam.

Railroad officials will hold a question-and-answer session and provide an update about the railroad’s restoration efforts.

On Sunday morning, an excursion will depart from Cass and travel north on the Greenbrier Line toward Durbin, West Virginia.

This route is currently under construction and is expected to connect with the southernmost end of the Durbin line in late 2018.

Passengers on the excursion will be able to inspect some of the new track.

“The revenues generated from these events directly benefit projects such as our Greenbrier Line rehabilitation and steam locomotive restorations. Our railfan community gets to enjoy and capture parts of the railroad otherwise inaccessible, and we get to earmark the funds for ongoing projects,” said Durbin & Greenbrier Business Development Manager Chase Gunnoe. “This will be unlike previous events. We’re sitting down now with our operations team and determining how we can make this most impactful for our followers who want to see something different.”

D&GB Ridership Increased in 2016

January 17, 2017

Ridership on West Virginia’s Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad was 85,943 in 2016.

West VirginiaThe season runs from March through December and the preliminary figures for last year show 2,095 more passengers than the 83,848 who rode in 2015.

October was the busiest month when 21,829 rode. The corresponding number for October 2015 was 18,971.

A new holiday ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad helped to bump up patronage during the holiday season.

That train had a Christmas theme and used the former Chesapeake & Ohio Greenbrier line between Cass and Durbin.

Cass Season Extended to December

November 15, 2016

The operating season of the Cass Scenic Railroad will be extended into December with at least one steam locomotive remaining operational.

Cass ScenicOfficials with the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, which oversees Cass, said they have formed a partnership with a theater group in Elkin, West Virginia, to operate a new train, the Elf Limited, on a route that last saw a train in 1985.

The Elf Limited will use passenger cars from the Cheat Mountain Salamander. The holiday theme trains will operate between Nov. 25 and Dec. 11.

The Elf Limited will use a former Chesapeake & Ohio line from Cass to Durbin that has been undergoing rebuilding for nearly two years.

Storm Damage has CSX Still Recovering in W.Va.

June 28, 2016

The flooding from a severe storm that struck CSX hard in West Virginia late last week still had rail operations stymied on Monday.

CSX was particularly hit hard on its former Chesapeake & Ohio mainline between Hinton, West Virginia, and Clifton Forge, Virginia.

CSX logo 1Washouts and debris on the tracks of the Alleghany Subdivision have halted rail traffic in the wake of the storm, which dumped up to 7 inches of rain in some areas.

Trains magazine reported on Monday that much of the track infrastructure near Caldwell, West Virginia, had been washed out.

Similar, although less severe, damage was reported on the New River Subdivision.

A railroad spokesperson said CSX continues to assess the damage and make repairs. Where feasible, traffic has been re-routed around the hard-hit areas.

CSX expected to resume limited operations on Monday. Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Cardinal, which uses the affected tracks, will not resume running over its regular route until Wednesday.

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad operated its weekend tourist trains and other all attractions.

It had canceled last Friday its Cheat Mountain Salamander train.

Cass Steam Double-Header This Weekend

June 24, 2016

The first steam double-header of the year will operate this weekend on the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia.

Cass ScenicExpected to be the motive power are Shay Nos. 2 and 4 on a seven-car train that will run from Cass to the Bald Knob overlook on Saturday. No. 2 is newly rebuilt.