Charleston-area residents planning to ride the Autumn Colors Express fall excursion train won’t have to drive to Huntington to board, Rail Excursion Management Co. (Railexco) spokesman Lou Capwell said Monday.
Operators of the train received authorization from Amtrak Monday to make station stops at Charleston, he said.
“We’re proud to bring Charleston stops back for this event,” Capwell said. “We’re very excited to give this option to residents who live in or near the Capitol city.”
The excursion train, which will run round-trips between Huntington and Hinton on Oct. 25, 26, and 27, is the successor to the New River Train, which had made fall foliage excursions along the same route for 52 years.
That train had made station stops in Charleston through the late 1990s. In recent years, however, the New River Train stopped in St. Albans for boarding and detraining coach-class passengers only.
The Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society announced in February it was canceling its 2019 runs of the New River Train, after 52 years of continuous operation, citing more than $180,000 of operating losses from the 2018 runs — loses attributed to higher fees and operational restrictions imposed by Amtrak.
In May, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin tweeted that he had helped broker a deal to continue operation of the fall excursion train under new management, with an announcement to be “coming soon.”
However, it would be another 10 weeks before Railexco, a leading rail excursion and private car charter company, would complete negotiations with Amtrak and insurers to be able to formally announce operations of the train.
In addition to convenience for Charleston-area residents, the Charleston stop will provide accommodation options for out-of-state riders, Capwell said, particularly since Marshall has a home football game that weekend.
Capwell said ticket sales, which began Aug. 5, have been strong, exceeding sales goals to date.
Tickets are available in six classes of service, from coach, deluxe coach, lounge class, private suites, dome class, to the luxury chairman’s class, and range in cost from $149 to $599 round trip.
Trips coincide with the Railroad Days festival in downtown Hinton on Oct. 26-27, although Capwell said many of the vendors will also be open for the Friday, Oct. 25 run.
Tickets are available at the Autumn Colors Express web site (www.autumncolors expresswv.com) or by calling 844-724-5399.