New York officials study bike trail after tourist railroad cancels snow trains, again

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The Saratoga & North Creek Railway during a fall leaf excursion.
John Sesonske
NORTH CREEK, N.Y. – A county official in upstate New York is encouraging his colleagues to take another look at turning a tourist railroad into a bike trail after the railroad operator cancelled its snow trains for the second consecutive year.

The Saratoga & North Creek Railway, an Iowa Pacific Holdings-managed railroad, recently announced the last-minute cancellation of its winter trains, The Post-Star reports.

At least one local official representing Warren County and local tourism, said he was “really disappointed” in the decision not to run the snow trains. If the railroad is going to cancel trains at the last minute, “we have to know what’s going on,” says Gene Merlino, a Lake Luzerne supervisor on the county’s board tourism committee.

The railroad’s plans to run winter trains meant the right-of-way was off limits for snowmobile trails. If local officials had known the railroad was going to cancel its trains, it could have opened up the right-of-way for snowmobile use. Prior to Iowa Pacific managing the rail line, the previous operator did not run winter trains, which allowed snowmobiles to use the 88-mile rail line during the winter months.

In 2015, two bicycling groups proposed turning the entire rail line into a bike trail. Local officials, including the board in which Luzerne represents, decided to renew its contract with the Saratoga & North Creek Railway for five years – running until 2021.

While other local officials were disappointed to hear the cancellation of the winter trains, Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, chairman of the county board of supervisors, did note that the railroad has “come a long way” from the prior operator in terms of revenue and rail operations, the article says.

The Saratoga & North Creek announcement is not the first time Iowa Pacific has been in the news so far this year. Amtrak recently announced it would take over operations of the Indianapolis-Chicago Hoosier State beginning March 1 after only 20 months of operation.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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