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Excursion trains; freight desired
By Kevin Kearney
Posted Sep. 18, 2014 @ 4:44 pm
WAYNE COUNTY - The Delaware Lackawaxen & Stourbridge Railroad hopes to reestablish train excursions by the spring.
"We want to bring the train back bigger and better than it was before," said K.C. Smith, DL&S general manager.
The excursions ceased in September 2012, after 30 years, due to a lack of funding.
DL&S is owned by the Lackawaxen & Honesdale Shippers Association.
The association board this week approved agreements allowing the efforts of the DL&S to restart the railroad, Smith said.
Paul Brancato purchased the local railroad in May of 2008 and hired Morristown & Erie Railway Inc. to operate the line.
Morristown had a 10-year operating agreement to run rail service but pulled out in 2012.
The agreements signed this week puts control of the tracks into the hands of DL&S.
Smith said DL&S also hopes to have freight service, yet it is currently unknown what would be shipped.
"We will look at all credible possibilities," said the railroad consultant.
Regarding the excursions, DL&S plans to use the 25 miles of tracks to run visitors between Honesdale, Hawley and Lackawaxen.
The railroad has multiple plans to run trains between the three municipalities, which should provide a boost to businesses in the three communities, Smith said.
There are still hurdles, though.
The shippers association owns the locomotive and cars.
The locomotive needs work, as do the tracks.
Smith said the work will consider a "significant investment," though he didn't have specific numbers.
The tracks are in good shape, but vegetation will need to be removed. "And it's manageable," Smith said of clearing the tracks.
Local officials and businesses are pleased and optimistic about the return of the excursions.
"This is the best possible thing to happen in the town in three years," said Jeff Hiller, owner of Trackside Grill on Main Street. Hiller said the excursions will attract thousands of people to town.
Gail Tucker, executive director of the Greater Honesdale Partnership, said, "We can't wait for it to come back." Tucker echoed Hiller, saying the excursions will attract people to Honesdale and give a boost to local businesses.
"I think it would be excellent for local businesses," Tucker said.
Shippers board member Donna LaBar, who also is with the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, said getting back the excursions will allow the entire region to share its natural beauty with thousands of visitors.