Trains set to return to Frostburg May 6

Woodcock Hollow retaining wall stabilizes ground under Western Maryland Scenic's roadbed
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WMSRWall1
A new retaining wall at Woodcock Hollow along the Western Maryland Scenic railroad. The railroad's tracks are above the wall.
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
FROSTBURG, Md. — Thanks to a new retaining wall, the first train to Frostburg will arrive on May 6, says John Garner, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad's general manager.

It has been nine months since passengers rode the railroad to Frostburg. Two landslides damaged the railroad right-of-way in 2016, which curtailed service several miles short of Frostburg.

Crews with Allegany County (Md.) completed some $1.5 million in repairs to stabilize a weakened rock shelf at Woodcock Hollow, about 10 miles from Cumberland, Md., earlier this week. The county owns the section of the former Western Maryland Railroad. The railroad and an adjacent bike trail will now traverse a 350-foot-long, 28-foot-tall retaining wall.

Garner says that over the next nine weeks, railroad crews will inspect the track that has been out of service, clear brush, and make additional repairs as needed.

“We will be sprucing up our passenger fleet and completing routine maintenance on both the passenger cars and the diesels,” Garner says. “Of course, work will continue on Western Maryland 1309.”

The former Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309, is a 2-6-6-2 a compound mallet steam locomotive that the Western Maryland Scenic acquired from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in 2014. It is scheduled for its first revenue run on July 1.

Ridership on the Western Maryland Scenic was down about 10,000 people in 2016, Garner says. He says the shortened train rides were a major reason. In addition to the Woodcock Hollow site, land slipped at another site in February 2016, where the track had been laid over mining waste. That site was repaired, then the Woodcock Hollow slide was discovered in July.

Garner says that the lack of steam power was another factor in the ridership decline. Western Maryland Scenic 2-8-0 No. 734 was taken out of service in April 2016 for its 1,472-day inspection. Trains have been diesel-hauled ever since.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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