Stourbridge Line Excursions Suspended
A well-known rail train excursion in Honesdale is put on hold for the year, due to financial problems.
The Stourbridge Line, which has had its financial problems in the past, has suspended all passenger excursions for the entire year.
Some of those excursions take passengers through Wayne and Pike counties for the fall foliage tour and the Santa Express in the winter.
“A big part of it is the state the equipment is in. It’s going to take a major investment,” said Donna LaBar of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.
“There just isn’t enough activity right now to cover the cost of the equipment to sustain so we need to regroup,” said Thomas Shepstone of Shepstone Management Company.
Shepstone also owns the train and said it will cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair the locomotive and the cars.
Last year, 7,000 people took the train, which is the lowest count in decades, according to the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.
Officials who made the decision said business owners could be hit the hardest.
“My main goal is that their visit, while they’re here, impresses them and that gives them a reason to come back. Maybe on a day when they’re not riding the train and they come back and they spend a day here. I really think that’s what happens with a lot of the people,” said owner of Trackside Grill Jeff Hiller.
The season for passenger excursions would have started this Easter with the annual Bunny Run. That excursion, plus all others normally scheduled throughout the year, are now canceled while all train supporters figure out how to get the train back on track.
“We’re all going to work diligently and try to reverse it and get the rail and get the excursions moving again next year,” said LaBar.
“We need freight business to carry the load, at the point passenger excursions are an add on,” said Shepstone.
A supporter who worked on the Stourbridge Line for years hopes the train doesn’t run out of steam.
“These are national treasures we can’t lose. Honesdale will still exist, but it won`t be the same,” said Walter Galuska.
“It’s just a huge part of the community,” said Hiller.
Members of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce said they are networking with other railroad companies who have contacted them to see what can be done to get the Stourbridge Line back on track.