Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shipping issues delay dinner train's start

The Columbia Star Dinner Train is ready for business, but it is sitting on railroad tracks hundreds of miles away.

Central States Rail Associates, which received permission from the city earlier this year to use the COLT railroad line for excursion trips to Centralia, is working on the logistics of bringing the two-locomotive, five-car train to Columbia from Iowa, Vice President Greg Weber said yesterday.

He declined to give a date for the train’s arrival, noting that “we have set three dates already and haven’t met them.”

The issues that must be solved are the cost of moving the train as an attachment to a freight shipment and scheduling the move through three intervening railroads on the way to Centralia, he said. “It could be as early as shipping this week, but it is out of our hands,” he said.

Work is complete to prepare the COLT Transload facility at 6501 N. Brown Station Road for use by passengers boarding the train, which will offer dinner service on Friday and Saturday evenings and brunch on Sundays.

“We have done quite a bit of work,” said Tad Johnsen, director of the city Water and Light Department, which operates the city railroad. “We have gotten pretty much everything done they wanted us to do.”

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