Excursion Train Travel Experiences Is On Track
There are several interested groups working in collaboration to bring excursion train travel back to Jamestown.
One of those interested groups is the Local Planning Committee for Jamestown’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The Local Planning Committee requested $670,000 out of the $9.7 million that will be allocated to Jamestown for Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects.
The funding will go to address gaps in infrastructure within the city to support regional excursion train traffic. The proposal is for the Jamestown Gateway Train station and at an adjacent location where local officials are working to redeveloping the former engine building into the Jamestown Area Railway Heritage Center.
Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said the funding will go toward creating a second track that excursion trains would use as a railway turntable or as an area to park while passengers tour the city.
“It will also be an opportunity for excursion trains to be hooked up for cleaning and servicing while they are here. There is only a single track there now so an excursion train will need a place to park if it is going to be here for sometime or overnight without shutting down the whole track,”Teresi said. “Another piece of the puzzle will be for an accessible place to disembark. The ‘depot’ is necessary. These are a few of the first things that need to be done to attain and accept excursion train traffic. None of the DRI money would go toward renovating the engine (building). It would all go toward the infrastructure.”
Today, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts at 11:30 a.m. to announce Jamestown’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects and how much funding each will receive.
Teresi said in order for excursion train traffic to come from the Buffalo-Niagara region, there needs to be improvements made to a bridge between Jamestown and Waterboro and a switch and line refurbishment between Gowanda and Waterboro. The mayor said there also needs to be some general tie and rail refurbishment to improve the railroad lines to make the trip smoother and allow for the trains to travel safer at greater speeds.
“These improves will provide a more direct route and significantly reduce the time to and from the Buffalo area to downtown Jamestown,” Teresi said. “It will shave an hour or two hours off the trip from the south towns of Buffalo to downtown Jamestown.”
Vince DeJoy, city development director, said they are close to funding a feasibility and implementation study for excursion train travel. He said there are numerous partners involved in the project, which includes the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency; Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board; Buffalo Cattaraugus and Jamestown Scenic Railway; and Robert O. Dingman, Jr., New York & Lake Erie Railroad president;
“We have a good consortium of municipalities and the IDAs, and we have received a lot of support from the village of Gowanda,” DeJoy said. “We are also working with officials in Erie County to bring passengers from the Buffalo-Niagara region to Jamestown and to other municipalities along the way.”
DeJoy said Jamestown City Council has allocated $30,000 of the $60,000 needed to fund the feasibility and implementation study. He said the other partners in the endeavor will fund the remaining $30,000 to hire the consultant to produce the study. The feasibility and implementation study will be done by Stone Consulting of Warren, Pa.
“They are the foremost consultant when it comes to railroads, and they have a great deal of experience when it comes to excursion rail service,” DeJoy said. “We are extremely close to putting together all the funding necessary.”