Train Rides Cancelled over Tunkhannock Viaduct

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NICHOLSON -- It was supposed to be one of the main attractions at a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the Tunkhannock Viaduct, also known as the Nicholson Bridge in Wyoming County.

But now, two planned steam engine rides over the viaduct have been cancelled.

Plans were in place to have a steam engine carry about eight hundred passengers each day from Scranton to Binghamton over the Tunkhannock Viaduct as part of the celebration in September.

As a result of the cancellation, nearly $200,000 in ticket sales are being returned after organizers say demands from the Canadian Pacific railroad company went too far.

"To me, it's a low point in my life that we couldn't pull this off," said Norman Barrett, the chairman of the excursion committee.

According to Barrett, he was working with Norfolk Southern railroad to have two train rides cross the bridge in September. Norfolk Southern is in the process of buying the railroad from Canadian Pacific, and thought they'd own the track by now.

When Norfolk Southern realized they weren't going to own the track in time for the celebration, Barrett had to plead his case to the track's current owner, Canadian Pacific. The company agreed to the rides, but not before asking organizers to raise their insurance policy from about $50 million to an unattainable $100 million.

"I think it's terrible," said Ann Marie Aylesworth, the mayor of Nicholson. "I think the railroad is doing a big injustice to the town of Nicholson and to the bridge."

Businesses in Nicholson say they've been preparing for this celebration for years, going as far as making custom yardsticks to celebrate the occasion.

"It's a little disappointing," said Tiffany Germana, the owner of Germana's Pizzeria. "We were expecting to get more business from it and people in town."

"It was going to be a nice addition to our celebration," said Lisa Mihalina of All Under One Roof in Nicholson. "After you think about it, and you still wake up this morning, we're still going to have the crowd and the parade and the celebration and the floats. The train doesn't come, then they train doesn't come. I figure it's their loss, not ours."

Canadian Pacific released the following statement in response:

"Canadian Pacific is responsible to our shareholders and our customers, and so we must safeguard our operation. Our liability insurance ask is consistent with that of other railroads and reflects legal settlements from passenger train incidents in recent years. While we are willing to run these types of trips; we simply must safeguard our operation as we do this."

All over, events are going on as planned for the celebration next month in Wyoming County. Barrett added that if you have purchased tickets, you will receive a refund for the face value amount of your tickets within 7-10 business days.

10 comments

  • Blair Richards

    Blair

    I live in the Nicholson area for about 12 years and my parents lived in the area much longer. The Nicholson Bridge is a national treasure. It is sad that Canadian Pacific has canceled these two trains. They offered a unique experience for folks. It is a big loss for the area and a sad commentary on Canadian Pacific who chose money over a bit of history.

    I grew up in Scranton in the 40’s and 50’s and it was a real treat to go up to the country and see The Bridge. Didn’t know I would some day live just a few miles from it.

  • Chris

    CP hasn’t been doing well over the past few years, reason why Norfolk Southern is buying them out. Hell they don’t even run that many trains through there anyway, most of the trains are alreay Norfolk Southern power. They are just trying the get some extra $$ before they lose the line.

  • Jay Cleaveland

    It is outrageous that a foreign company can dictate to Americans how our roads and rails can be used. What a sorry state this country is in due to ‘globalization’. We need to stop selling off our infrastructure to foreign interests; a Canadian company should have never been allowed to take control of our rail lines.

  • Dull Modem

    Can’t the Federal Govt. threaten to nationalise the railroads like they did in WW2?

    That will put CP in it’s place.

  • bobc74

    Too bad there isn’t a Federal National Park having to do with trains nearby that could have run the excursions.

    • jcb

      Wouldn’t help, they would still have to come up with the $100M policy, they don’t own the tracks. Only Amtrak can force itself upon other railroads, that’s the way the law is written. The NPS doesn’t have any interest in Steamtown anymore, the operations have been undergoing reductions every year. Why would they spend the money? They don’t have enough for the stuff they are already doing!

  • Joeboo

    Well said, the days of a hand shake are over, thanks to the scum who want to make a profit from freeloading.

  • Say no to government hand outs

    I’m sure it could be negotiated if every passenger signs a waiver to not hold the railroad owners liable for injury or death ,… Just saying . It’s a shame our nation has become one where people look for a free meal ticket and people who keep breeding knowing first hand they can’t afford to care for the offspring!

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