Kingston Train Operations and Theme Trains Can Resume on August 1;Second Permit Allows Fall Foliage Trains in Mount Tremper for 2016 Season
KINGSTON, N.Y. - Ulster County Executive Mike Hein today announced that the Catskill Mountain Railroad Company, Inc. (“CMRR”) has signed a permit issued by the County to continue tourism railroad operations in the segment of the County-owned Ulster & Delaware (U&D) Corridor in the City of Kingston and Town of Ulster until the end of 2020. In addition, the CMRR also signed a temporary permit that would allow them to operate fall foliage trains in the Phoenicia-Mount Tremper segment for the 2016 season. Starting in 2017, the Railroad Explorers Corporation will begin operations in the Phoenicia-Mount Tremper segment and offer rail bike tours in the Corridor between Phoenicia and Boiceville.
Pursuant to the County Legislature’s Resolution No. 488 of 2015, the County’s Purchasing Department issued Requests for Proposal for two segments of the U&D corridor delineated by the Legislature for future rail tourism operations. Following a review process and interviews, the County selected CMRR as the operator for the “Eastern Segment,” which runs approximately 9-miles roundtrip from the east side of the Kingston Plaza to Route 28A in the Town of Ulster. The available segment extends CMRR’s prior operations by nearly 2 miles and allows for potential special events such as DAY OUT WITH THOMAS™. and THE POLAR EXPRESS™. The County Legislature selected Rail Explorers Corporation (“Rail Explorers”) as the future operator for the “Western Segment,” which extends approximately 6.2 miles from Boiceville to Phoenicia. Rail Explorers currently offers rail-based tours on specially-manufactured “rail bikes” in the Adirondacks and the State of Delaware. Rail Explorers has proposed to begin rail bike tours in Ulster County in 2017; in the interim, CMRR will operate one additional season of fall foliage trains.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein
“The Permit with CMRR is another important step in realizing the full potential of the U&D corridor,” said County Executive Mike Hein. “This ensures that Ulster County residents and visitors alike can enjoy enhanced tourism railroad operations as well as public recreational uses, such biking and hiking along the magnificent Ashokan Reservoir. The County has worked diligently to implement the Legislature’s rail and trail policy for the U&D corridor, and we look forward to the success and benefits of both the rail and trail sections of this important County-owned asset.”
County Legislature Chairman Kenneth Ronk
“The Permit with CMRR offers an opportunity to turn the page on the robust and sometimes heated debate that has ensued over the past several years over the future of the U&D Corridor,” noted Ulster County Legislature Chairman Ken Ronk. “We are moving forward in implementing the compromise “rail and trail” policy that passed the Legislature unanimously in December after many months of research, analysis and debate. The County is committed to the success of both the rail and trail parts of this compromise, and the issuance of the Permit to CMRR will allow the popular theme trains to resume in Kingston.”
Ulster County Legislator James Maloney
Chairman of the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee and Trails & Rails Advisory Committee (“TRAC”) James Maloney said, “The Legislature put a great deal of time and effort into crafting a compromise policy that allows both rail and trail along this County-owned corridor. The Permit allows the continuance and expansion of railroad operations in Kingston and the Town of Ulster while also building in necessary protections for County taxpayers and public safety. I appreciate that the Legislature’s leadership and counsel were involved in the development and review of the Permit, and I applaud the CMRR for working with the County to execute the Permit in a timely manner.”
CMRR President Ernest Hunt
CMRR President Ernest Hunt said: “The CMRR welcomes the opportunity to continue to expand our train operations in the Kingston area, and we look forward to a positive long-term working relationship between the CMRR and the County to provide the maximum economic impact for the citizens of Ulster County. We look forward to resuming our operations in Kingston shortly as well as completing the current season in Mount Tremper. We welcome the public to join us for train rides and even to volunteer to support our continued growth in the coming years.”
The Permit with CMRR is effective from August 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020. The County will now work on a similar permit with the Rail Explorers to begin operations starting in 2017.