Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Viewpoint: Tearing Out Railroads Is Not Progress

Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates riding an area near Lake Colby in 2013

I’ve ridden on the rail corridor between Saratoga Springs and North Creek several times over the years, including the last run to North Creek with a dome car. The scenery is beautiful, especially from the high bridge at Hadley. The views along the river are splendid. Those who have never done it by train will never know what they’re missing. I wish I could have ridden it to Tahawus.

Some argue the railroad must go because it can’t pay for itself. The reason for that is that we spent the 20th century building highways at taxpayer expense; we subsidize everything that competes with rail while still expecting it to make money.

There are good points for rail trails — exercise, enjoying nature, tourism, and so on — but every mile of track removed is a commitment to more traffic on highways, and fewer alternatives to move people and goods around. A trail will not serve the industrial district in Corinth for example, and that’s not the only business potential on the line.

Instead of leveraging the historic investment and infrastructure in towns that grew up around the railroad, highways have contributed to sprawl: housing developments scattered around, big box stores on the edges, needing acres of parking and public services.

You can drive past North Creek on Route 28 and hardly know it’s there. The rail line brings you right into town to the historic station and the business district around it. It’s the same for the other stops on the line. The railroad connects directly with Amtrak at Saratoga. Why give that up?

The Achilles heel of tourism is its carbon footprint. You can’t have tourists without travel — and limiting ourselves to highways means higher emissions. According to the Sierra Club, 36% of greenhouse gas emissions in New York come from transportation. Rail is far more energy-efficient than rubber wheels on pavement. Every rail line removed is an opportunity lost to address climate change and air quality.

Simply running trains on biodiesel would make them effectively carbon neutral. The Dutch have a national electrified rail system; they’ve invested in enough wind power to cover 100% of the electricity needed to run it. Alstom has developed hydrogen fuel cell train sets with zero carbon emissions.

While electric cars, buses, trucks, etc. would also cut emissions, Solutionary Rail estimates that it can take up to three times as much energy to move a load by road as it would by rail. That means we’d need that much more renewable energy for highway transport over rail. It will also take longer for everyone to make the switch to electric vehicles.

The rest of the world is investing in rail. Only America thinks ripping up rail lines is progress. It’s not an either/or choice. We can do more than one thing at a time — and we must at the rate climate change is ramping up.

The storm that hit New York on Halloween night 2019 led to emergency declarations in 11 counties. Millions of dollars of damage was done to highways alone. It’s going to take months, possibly years to repair them. In contrast, the CSX main line had several washouts from the storm near Utica but was back in service late the next day. We are going to need that kind of resiliency.

If we are serious about protecting the Adirondacks (and the planet), giving up a transportation choice that could reduce our carbon footprint is not the way to go. Instead of spending taxpayer money on a nonessential trail, we should invest in restoring rail passenger and freight capacity. New England states are investing in tourist, commuter, passenger and freight rail while also doing transit-oriented development. That is the future we need in New York.

This essay is by Larry Roth, a Ravena resident who works with the nonprofit Solutionary Rail to address climate change by promoting a national rail system. It is a companion piece to “Viewpoint: Convert Hudson River Rails to Multi-Use Trail” by Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. Peter Bauer’s essay will run on early next week. These essays first appeared in the Adirondack Explorer.

Photo of Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates riding an area near Lake Colby in 2013 by Nancie Battaglia.

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Guest Contributor

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with a biding interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.




66 Responses

  1. LeRoy Hogan says:

    I want rail explorers back with no environmental impact and good old fresh air exercises. No worries of tearing up and then dumping those nasty rail road ties in the Catskills without getting caught.

  2. Smitty says:

    A national rail system, other than Amtrack, is a nice thought but I dont see rail ever replacing America’s love of the automobile and the flexibility to go where you want to go, when you want to do it. It could be a good replacement for regional air travel, however, for travel between major cities. Air travel has no good carbon neutral equivalent and has become such a hassle that most people hate it. I dont think a reestablished North Creek railroad would make many inroads. I do suspect that we will see electric cars largely replacing gasoline cars within the next couple of decades. North Creek would make an excellent rail trail. Rail explorers is too expensive and not many would use it more than once. And if Mr. Roth’s vision ever should come to pass, well, the rail bed is still there.

  3. Boreas says:

    Larry,

    Good ideas don’t drive business – profit does. Are rail concerns lining up to use the existing Class 2/3 railroads in the Park? One (for lack of use) is in the process of abandonment procedures, and the other will terminate in Tupper Lake. These lines obviously have limited appeal to rail investors, or there wouldn’t be saplings growing between the ties. Using them to store old rail cars certainly isn’t a popular way to go.

    I agree, the US may have abandoned rail too soon. But it isn’t going to be up to Adirondackers to reverse America’s long-standing love of the automobile and the roads on which to drive. The motivation to turn the Adirondacks into a rail Mecca currently just isn’t here. If our economy or population ever gets to a point where rail services are a necessity within the Park (like it was when the rails were laid), the corridors will still exist. Modern rails could be put back down if the need is there. But it is hard to see a scenario where a low-density population spread out in an area the size of a state would be better served by inflexible rail service than it would by roads going to every door.

  4. Governor Cuomo announced $8 billion in rail improvements , I just hope it is spent in the right places. This is not it. Even if more modern and efficient train were used, you’re still looking at 200 tons of train that will not ever be used ( if it is) unless it runs full or empty several choices a day. That does not even equal private car efficiency until it is over 40 private automobiles, not to mention the “on call” ancillary transportation necessary and that is the LEAST efficient form of transportation. So why take away a very successful economy (long trail snowmobiling) and the potential for bicycling and e-biking long or short sections.

  5. Andrew DeTar says:

    Building recreational trails has been progress in many many communities worldwide. Show me one community that regrets it. The rails that are torn up are the ones that are obsolete. The recreational paths are bringing people in. The rails were not and they lost lots of public money even when run by volunteers!

  6. Nancy Wixted says:

    It’s about time this subject has been written about. I applaud Mr. Roth and his insight and reference to the history of transportation in America and all that it implies. The “rails to trails” movement reinforces the “me too” thinking and nothing more. If the carbon effect were of such great concern, those wanting to bike the trails would do so from their front door, not tie the bike onto the car and drive in to the remote areas. It is in keeping with “the sky is falling”, but it is not up to me to fix it. Just as with the single use items and the disposal thereof….just not in my back yard.

  7. Big Burly says:

    Thank you Larry Roth. Informed and informative. Those who take the position RRs are passe and that electric cars/trucks will save us have a limited understanding of that highway congestion will only get worse. It seems a simple thing that two rail lines into the Adirondacks is a necessity we all should invest in keeping for the flexibility and options they will provide for transportation in the future.

    • Boreas says:

      Big Burley,

      What “necessity” are they providing?? They are there now and not being used! How necessary can they be?

      If/when new rail is a necessity, the priority will be to put them where they will do the most good. One of the least-densely populated areas in the East? Not a high priority. Who is to say what the rail of the future will even be like? Modern rail is on entirely different tracks than the century old tracks that exist. If modern rail is ever implemented up here (or even Class 1 rail), it will likely require replacing the existing rails, possibly the rail bed, and/or rerouting anyway. And when you finally get to a terminal, will we walk to our destination?

      I do not feel that speculating on the possible future of rail in the Park should trump what the corridor can provide now. Is that feeling short-sighted or simply pragmatic?

      • LeRoy Hogan says:

        Not being used since rail explorers was kicked out.

        • Boreas says:

          And when the corridor becomes busy with all this rail travel and freight, the trains will pull off on a side track to let the Rail Explorers pass? No, they will get the boot again. Nothing against Rail Explorers, but taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to support them.

          In a recent poll, the readership of ADE voted for rail removal by a margin of about 3:1. Not a scientific poll, but certainly numbers that shouldn’t be ignored.

          • LeRoy Hogan says:

            There’s no freight trains on the corridor

            There is no mandate to use taxpayer money to support rail explorers just like in the Catskills but they do pay a lease for using the county owned rail. Did you know Catskill Mountain Rail Road in the Catskills pays a lease and funds the restoration and maintenance of the very rail they lease? I don’t understand why people have it embedded in their brains tourist trains and rail bikes need tax payer money for support but rail trails most certainly do need NY tax payer support.

  8. Curt Austin says:

    1st paragraph: It’s a scenic corridor that’s better experienced while outdoors.

    2nd: An oft-cited resentment from railroad supporters that RRs are not supported like highways are. Both true and false, but support must be based on the needs of the public, on a case-by-case basis.

    3rd: There will be no traffic problems associated with a trail. Where there are traffic issues, RRs are popular and subsidized. We all take the train to NYC, but only four tickets were sold from North Creek to NYC on SNCR. Will big industry return to Corinth? It’s possible, but if a paper plant didn’t make sense, it seems unlikely.

    4th: This is a local decision about this corridor, while this argument is just a general railroad advocacy talking point. I don’t fear sprawl and big box stores in Thurman or elsewhere on the corridor.

    5th: Why give up service to Main Street in North Creek? Because it didn’t work with SNCR, UHRR, CP or D&H. Warren County received no credible operating proposals last year. Again, because it didn’t work. Didn’t work! The experiment was performed. The data is in. It takes a particular zeal to deny the significance of this data.

    6th: Passenger trains can produce less carbon emission than cars, but not buses. Adirondack Trailways serves the entire local need with one bus a day. Much faster, too. But the argument is again a national-level talking point, not relevant to this corridor.

    7th: There is zero chance of electrified train service on this corridor. The cost is justified only on the most heavily traveled corridors, e.g., Washington to NYC. Meanwhile, the number of electric cars are increasing. A Tesla Supercharging station is being built at the Chestertown Stewarts.

    8th: Again, an irrelevant talking point, but sounding particularly desperate for our corridor. I must say, concerns of railroad supporters about climate change seem disingenuous

    9th: The rest of the world may be investing in rail, and that’s a good thing. The investments are presumably based on the needs that each rail line satisfies. Better service between Albany and Buffalo might be a good investment in New York. Do that first; don’t waste RR infrastructure money on spur lines on which traffic largely ceased in the 1950’s.

    10th: The Halloween storm means we should choose rail? The corridor here remains impassable due to the storm. It will be repaired at public expense despite having no current utility.

    11th: Mr. Roth’s big finish here is a set of national-level talking points that amount to the usual wishful thinking and distraction away from the factors that should be used to make the local decision we face here. Here. Rail or trail? Which would be successful? Which would work?

    Which would make people happier? All we need to do is count the bicycles in our garage and in the garages of our neighbors and relatives. And on the back of visiting cars. Snowmobiles, cross country skies and snowshoes, too.

    My big finish is to repeat the response to the fifth paragraph. The experiment has been performed. Every opportunity has been given to making railroad operations successful. It hasn’t worked. Let’s try something else, something less risky. Something attuned to the Nature of our corridor.

    • Roger says:

      I was originally going to respond to the article but Curt hit more points than I even considered. Thank you for your very complete response to the article. I would just like to reiterate his fifth paragraph, “rail service didn’t work” I live next to the tracks and while I actually enjoyed seeing the train go by twice a day, most days there were no more than 15 or twenty people on board. I’m sure the railroad lost money on every trip. I’m looking forward to it being used as a bike and pedestrian trail. It would definitely be of more use to bikers and hikers and give them the ability to explore local towns and areas that are along the tracks.

      • LeRoy Hogan says:

        Rail bikes would be a great compromise.

        • Curt Austin says:

          I looked into building a rail bike many years ago to use on the Tahawus corridor. I still think fondly of the idea, but it was mainly because riding a regular bicycle over the ties is very unpleasant, even on a dual-suspension mountain bike.

          As soon as you have more than one person riding a rail bike on a corridor, you run into the “one way” nature of it. Short of some “north on odd hours, south on even hours” system, it’s necessary to ride in an organized convoy. That leads rail biking into commercial ventures. That’s in contrast to nearly all other forms of bicycling, which are free – both in money and in schedule. Making a reservation, paying for a ticket and riding in a convoy has not appealed to me, but clearly many people have done it. More than once? Not often, I think. It’s a significant expense for a family of four.

          So, that’s my particular problem with rail biking. I’d like to do it on my own, but that’s unworkable. I’d usually be happier on a regular bike anyway, since that gives me more mobility – I could ride to the trail, for example. But a rail biking business blocks a rail corridor to ordinary cycling. The expense of building a second roadbed is a show-stopper (that’s my engineering judgement, though a thorough survey of the corridor might reveal a section where you could do both).

          I love that rail biking proved far more popular (and profitable) than the train, but it is not worth sacrificing the vastly greater opportunity of a bike trail.

          • LeRoy Hogan says:

            That is the very reason to have rails with trails. Either way the corridor will not be free to maintain but need to be funded by tax payers. I just understand why people think you can only have one or the other when having both can be had and make for a broader multi-purpose corridor.

    • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

      Curt – you raise some good points, but you also slide right past many of the points I’m trying to make. You seem to regard climate change as a non-starter in this area. That attitude is summed up all too often as “not my problem” and nothing gets done.

      Take point 10. Yes the storm damaged the rail corridor – but it also damaged many roads and bridges across the state, as well as trails in the back country. ALL of that will have to be repaired at public expense – but the difference is rail can be put back into service much more quickly. Events like that storm are going to become more common. The cost of repairing the damage is millions of dollars; investing in rail a fraction of that amount would A) provide resiliency in the face of continuing disruption while B) doing something about the root cause – greenhouse gas emissions. That the corridor has no current utility is more a matter of skewed priorities and deliberate choices than any inherent flaws.

      Your last question is a tell. You ask “Which would make people happier?” It’s not a trivial question, but it has to take a back seat to this one: “What do people need?”

      If bicycles, snowmobiles, cross-country skis, and snowshoes were the answer, everyone in the Adirondacks should be blissed out. Rail trails are looking more and more like our equivalent of bread and circuses.

      • LeRoy Hogan says:

        Their were plenty of rail corridor washouts in the Catskills that had to be repaired. Catskill Mountain Rail Road repaired washouts at their own expense and nothing funded by the tax payers.

  9. CommunityGuy says:

    Tearing out rail lines is the very height of 70’s foolishness. It reminds me of “Urban Renewal” in destructiveness.

  10. Ton Goodwin says:

    I certainly agree with Larry Roth that rail can be the most energy efficient means to transport people and freight, but only in the right places; and for the foreseeable future the Adirondacks will not be one of those places. According to this chart https://afdc.energy.gov/data/10311, passenger rail gets just over 55 passenger miles per gallon of fuel. Two people in an efficient hybrid vehicle do a bit better than that. Intercity bus efficiency would be much higher if their average ridership was higher than the 25% cited in the table.

    Yes, the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad had a connection with Amtrak at Saratoga, and for a year or so scheduled trains to meet the Amtrak trains. So few passengers actually used that service that those runs were soon discontinued. There is probably a reason to keep the rails in place to Corinth in case any use can be found for that aging industrial site, but the attempts by the Saratoga and North Creek to ship garnets and tailings never worked out.

    And yes, it is nice that the Dutch manage to run many of their train on wind power, but first the rail line must be electrified – a huge capital expense. Electrification reached Croton-Harmon in 1903, but has not been extended since then. Some of the $8 billion that Governor Cuomo pledged for rail improvement could profitably be used to extend electrification to Poughkeepsie so that all Metro North trains can be electric and not the less-efficient diesel/electric hybrids now in use from Poughkeepsie. And who knows when electrification will even, if ever, reach Albany let alone Buffalo. So, let’s invest in improved rail infrastructure where it actually does some good, and leave the rail corridors in the Adirondacks in place for some distant future time when rail transportation would again be best for the Adirondacks.

    • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

      Tony, that ‘some distant future time’ is now. Yes, electrifying the lines would be an expense – but so is ripping them up and converting them into a trail. Power trains with wind and solar, and miles per gallon of fuel become irrelevant. And efficiency still matters. Steel wheels on steel rails beat rubber tires on highways every time.

      Let’s not forget disruptions of the global oil market – which could raise gas prices through the roof. Even though the U.S. might at the moment be able to meet its needs with domestic supplies, global price hikes would still be felt here. That would devastate tourism that depends on people driving to get to their destination. If you think the Middle East is more stable these days, you have not been watching the news.

      You can’t do tourism in the Adirondacks (or elsewhere) without travel. Getting carbon out of travel is essential. A rail trail will do nothing to that end. Ripping out the rail line for a feel-good trail is the modern equivalent of trading away lifeboats on the Titanic to make for room for deck chairs – and we know how well that turned out.

  11. M.C. says:

    Larry
    It takes a couple of hours for a pre-dinosaur character like myself to peruse the internet and find out all you need to know about a company like United Rail and determine it is a total scam. They have no money, no infrastructure, no viable plan. None of the claims they make exist. It’s a con job to store rail cars and/or bilk investors out of their money. That is the only way they can make money. The only way you’re going to ride the rails to Tahawus is to talk some multi-millionaire into pouring “all” their money into a “hobby train” or peddle. I just took the train to NYC and it was a viable alternative to driving down there. Trains do have a use and should be expanded upon in certain areas of the country for sure, but not this train in this location. Its a dead end spur to a small quaint Adirondack village that exists, as is, for that reason. The community that would have to exist to sustain the cost of a train servicing itself would change North Creek into a year round Lake George in the summer. I’m sure there are a few people living in the area that would be tickled to death with that concept. Evidently they don’t have to commute through the Exit 20 area of I-87. Why don’t we do that first……Have a train running to Lake George and see if that is sustainable first. Good luck.

    • Steve B. says:

      One thing not discussed is the current rail infrastructure, both the Remsen/LP as well as Tahawus lines would need to be completely replaced, or near enough in terms of repairs and improvements, in order to make them viable for passenger rail service. How much would that cost and who would pay for it ?. If someday in the far future when private auto travel becomes prohibitively expensive or impractical, then you still have the right of way to build on, WHICH YOU WOULD HAVE TO DO RIGHT NOW, in order to restore passenger service.

      And will the railroad advocates please stop comparing the US with Europe when it comes to the reasons why we let our passenger rail system deteriorate while the Europeans didn’t !. This has been written about to death. We are not Europe. Our population centers are further apart and most regions are not as densely populated. We have 1/3 fewer people living in an area about 1/3 larger. The expense of maintaining the rail infrastructure is not supported by the user base. We can revisit in 20-30-40 years when the economic cost of the damage to the environment from air travel as well as auto and truck systems becomes something unavoidable.

      My personal attitude is we should be dumping significant cash now onto alternatives. Judging by how people vote, that’s not happening soon.

  12. Brian Joseph says:

    This is insane. Tear out the tracks.

  13. Wayne Ouderkirk says:

    Absolutely and totally agree! We need to reinvest in rail. Europe (in particular, Switzerland) provides lots of examples and models we can learn from. And of course, we have our own rail tradition as well to draw from.

    • Tony Goodwin says:

      Just in case you didn’t know, Swiss geography is quite a bit different from the Adirondacks, and I’ve hiked and ridden trains in Switzerland.

      • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

        I’m watching a PBS show on rail travel through Switzerland. Yes, their geography is a bit different from the Adirondacks – but their railway engineering makes ours look primitive, as do their trains. They have a variety, from breathtaking mountain climbers to cross-country cruisers and a robust freight system.

        http://www.smarttravels.tv/RealRailTV/shows/grand-train-tour-switzerland

        If you asked someone from Switzerland their opinion about turning a railroad into a trail and leaving roads as the only way to get to Lake Placid when you have a perfectly good rail corridor, I’m guessing they would think it was insane. The Swiss government has been investing in their rail system and keeping it modernized. Save for a few historic steam operations, it’s electric, much of it zero carbon from hydropower.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Switzerland

        The way they combine rail and trail networks is impressive. Unlike us, they seem to be able to do more than one thing at a time. They are serious about their transportation systems, and they are not afraid to make big infrastructure investments.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthard_Base_Tunnel

        The U.S. doesn’t do that any more.

  14. Matt says:

    As someone who lives and owns a business adjacent to the railway between Saratoga Springs and Corinth, I see a huge benefit to converting to a trail. Currently the tourist railroad does nothing to help the small communities it passes through. The trail would give people the ability to safely travel between points of interest in the most environmentally friendly way. The main roads that link these communities have very poor shoulders and are very dangerous for cyclists or joggers. I am a cyclist so I may be biased, but I know there are many people who would enjoy a safe trail to ride. The trail would give people the ability to stop and explore the small towns along the way.

  15. CommunityGuy says:

    These D. A. Dinosaur comments make it clear why the Adirondack Region is in the toilet and won’t even start to recover until these Neanderthals are dead and gone.

    All the best ideas from 1950-1975.

  16. Mike says:

    The (simple) solution would be to build a recreation trail along side the tracks. Charge to use it,to help pay for it’s construction.

    • Steve B. says:

      How to deal with hikers/snowmobiles/bikes, etc… crossing the countless streams, are we adding bridges ?. Then there’s the legal problem the train operating companies have with other users sharing the right-of-way. You would think a shared right-of-way would be a simple thing but unfortunately it’s not.

    • LeRoy Hogan says:

      Having just the people who use the trail pay for it is a fair thing to do.

  17. Pat B says:

    Mr Roth mentions a hydrogen fuel powered train in his essay. This may be a pie in the sky but novel idea: How about a hydrogen fuel powered train (no emissions) and also promote NYS based business. Plug Power manufactures fuel cells ans is headquartered right near the airport in Albany. A fuel cell powered train would promote NY business and environmental tourism. Imagine, if the line could continue to Tahawus. Those wishing to hike the high peaks could take an environmentally friendly train from Saratoga all way to the southern trail head to the high peaks. I believe there is a plan to open some sort of visitor center in one of the old buildings of the MacIntyre mine. Maybe something like this would also relieve some of the parking issues plaguing the Rte 73 corridor. The down side would be the economic impact of fewer visitors along that corridor.

    • Boreas says:

      Pat B,

      Alternative power source for the locomotive isn’t a bad idea. But diesel power wasn’t what kept people away from riding the system that failed. It was ultimately lack of flexibility in schedules leading to lack of ridership. With Class 2 rails limited to 30 mph, you need a lot of trains to make a flexible schedule. The more trains you have, the lower the ridership per train.

  18. george says:

    Train service was a joke on this rail line. It never produced anywhere near the money the rail folks said it would. Rail explorers (i.e. the bikes on rails) are no different than a business renting regular bikes to be ridden on a trail. Get rid of the rails & move on folks!

  19. LeRoy Hogan says:

    Rail bikes are doing very well in the Catskills.

  20. Charlie says:

    Thank you Larry Roth ! A very wise recital of the need to keep the railroad intact.

  21. scott Thompson says:

    I’m sure the snowmobilers and cyclers would be glad to buy a permit sticker and hikers could pay for parking.

  22. Barry Scott says:

    Is there any real need to remove the rail line, or is this an attempt to create opportunities for reversion/conversion of title to private hands?
    Here in Santa Cruz County, California, developers are trying their best to remove a rail line while an adopted bike and pedestrian trail are under way!

    Wishing Larry Roth and others success in building the trail without compromising the rail line!

  23. Ann Breen Metcalfe says:

    A positive proposal followed by a really fruitful discussion. Congratulations to all. I vote for the rails; the North Creek to Saratoga trip is magnificent.

  24. Pat B says:

    Ann, and the idea of an eco-friendly train thru to Tahawus would be equally beautiful. Short of road trips, there are many people without the physical ability to hike/bike who are excluded from much of the beauty of our Adirondacks. We are willing to pay for the privilege to have access to some of the more remote areas as long as there is low impact on the forest.

    • george says:

      It always amazes me the number of people that still think a scenic rail line will work. The last attempt just FAILED! and what is in Tahawus that a person would want to go see. And weather you want rail bikes or just regular bikes on a trail, they are still just BIKES. Regular Bikes on a trail can go farther & more people can use the trail if they don’t ride bikes.

  25. Pat B says:

    George, it is not the destination, it is the journey. And you failed to note that I mentioned not everyone is physically able to hike or bike. Oh, and btw there are thoughts of one of the buildings (McNaughton Cottage) being set up as a visitor center. So I’m guessing someone believes there is interest in the Tahawus area. ‘Nuff said. PS: I hope that you will never face the prospect of limited mobility.

    • george says:

      hmmm, let’s see the last attempt at having a scenic train on this line just recently FAILED. I guess the journey just wasn’t that great! How many more attempts do you want before we go a different way. As far as the McNaughton Cottage being set up as a visitor center, great you can bike, or walk to get to it.

      • LeRoy Hogan says:

        Sounds like a great different way is to go by the way of rail bikes with no need of dumping those nasty rail road ties in the Catskills.

    • Scott Thompson says:

      Rail cars are not that mobility friendly. If our State were a bit more flexible we could have the Rail Trail and operate a motor tram on the trail as they do in the Everglades in the Florida National Park. Something close to the ground, inexpensive and carrying a reasonable number of passengers to make the ride more often and convenient without restricting the trail use.

  26. Pat B says:

    So those who can’t hike or bike.;…………..oh grrr…….I’m not wasting anymore time debating it.

    • george says:

      Well, you’re not going to get a scenic railroad again. You’ve had multiple bites at that apple & it has failed every time. SO now the questions is, do you leave the rails for JUST rail bike use, or do you remove the rails & open to bikes, hikers, horseback riding & multiple other uses. As far as those who cannot hike or bike, what is the difference between a rail bike then or a regular bike, If you cannot ride one, you cannot ride the other. AT least with a trail someone with a wheelchair would be able to go on the trail. You can say you don’t want to debate this anymore & that is fine. Your mind is already made up. You want the tracks no matter what. One of us will be right & the other wrong in the end. You had your bite at the apple for that last 30+ years & the railroad is/was/will be a failure, time to move on!

  27. LeRoy Hogan says:

    This is why you make rail with trail so everyone can get a bite. Rail bikes and tourist trains are doing just fine in the Catskills. Its a good thing the tourist trains do their own funding of the rail they use, no tax payer burden.

  28. JD Wilkins says:

    A very well done piece. Hope it will help keep the rails down and trains running.

  29. Shaylee Packer says:

    You mention that by taking the train to this destination, you get to see so many things that may be missed if one had gotten there by car. I wonder if the train track will be kept up so that more people can enjoy this scenic view. I would love to take a train ride through the countryside one day.

  30. Phil Johnstone says:

    I totally agree with Larry Roth’s piece related to Adirondack railroads.
    In addition, I would point out that sacrificing these rail lines for additional trails makes little sense when nearly unlimited options for outdoor recreation already exist throughout the Adirondack park!
    Increasing the level of maintenance on all existing trails so as to accommodate an ever increasing number of users while preserving the rail option for those with physical limitations or the desire to see the Adk park via rail travel may very well be the better option!

  31. LeRoy Hogan says:

    Just add trails next to the rail lines making the corridors truly diverse and be multi-use.

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