Manchin: Proud To See New River Train Tradition Continue With Autumn Colors Express
Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today released the following statement on the 2019 Autumn Colors Express.
“I am proud to see the Autumn Colors Express up and running this fall after all of the difficulties that have occurred over the last few years. For more than 50 years, the New River Train has been at the heart of West Virginia’s proud railroading history as the focal point of Railroad Days and I am proud to see the traditions carry on with the Autumn Colors Express this year. I wish everyone a safe and fun ride for this fall’s Autumn Colors Express and look forward to continuing this time honored tradition for years to come,” said Senator Manchin.
In 2018, Amtrak announced it would no longer accept private and charter trains, resulting in devastating financial losses for the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, which operated the New River Train for West Virginia. Senator Manchin worked with Amtrak, Collis P. Huntington, and local officials last year to ensure that Amtrak made an exception to allow the New River Train to run in 2018. However, Collis P. Huntington announced this year that it was forced to close its doors and cancel the New River Train. Through his work on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Manchin worked with Amtrak to allow this tradition to continue with a new operator as the Autumn Colors Express, which will run this year from Huntington and Charleston to Hinton for the Railroad Days Festival, which brings nearly $5 million to the region annually. As a result of these efforts, nearly 3000 people from West Virginia and surrounding states will be able ride the train to the Railroad Days Festival this year and years to come.
Senator Manchin’s video on the Autumn Colors Express can be viewed here.
Photos of the Autumn Colors Express can be viewed here.
Timeline highlights of Senator Manchin’s work on the New River Train and Autumn Colors Express:
- April 3, 2018: After Amtrak announced its decision to no longer accept private and charter trains, Senator Manchin called Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson to urge him to allow the New River Train to continue. The Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, a 59-year old non-profit organization, operated private railroad cars through Amtrak, including the New River Train from Huntington to Hinton for the annual Railroad Days celebration, which brings in an estimate $5 million for the region.
- May 2, 2018: Senator Manchin requested that Amtrak meet with representatives from the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society to find a pathway forward to reestablishing service for the New River Train. Senator Manchin presided over a meeting at Amtrak’s headquarters between Amtrak representatives and Collis P. Huntington’s leadership and local officials. After receiving a commitment from Amtrak’s CEO, Senator Manchin announced an agreement between Amtrak and Collis P. Huntington to reestablish service for the New River Train and begin selling tickets for the event, which took place on October 26, 2018.
- June 7, 2018: As a member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Manchin authored language in the FY19 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies requiring Amtrak to justify its decisions to increase prices and stop accepting private trains in Huntington, jeopardizing the future of the annual New River Train and harm small non-profits like the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society. Senator Manchin’s language requires Amtrak to increase transparency, improve public relations, and require to determine whether it could improve its policies without jeopardizing organizations like Collis P. Huntington.
- January 31, 2019: After learning of Collis P. Huntington’s financial difficulties stemming from the increased costs imposed by Amtrak, Senator Manchin sent a letter to Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson expressing grave concerns that Amtrak’s continued policies and restrictions.
- May – July 2019: After Collis P. Huntington was forced to close its doors, Senator Manchin continued to work with Amtrak and Rail Excursion Management Company (Railexco) to keep the tradition of the New River Train alive. Senator Manchin and his staff stayed engaged with Amtrak, Railexco, and local officials in West Virginia as they worked through a number of issues prior to signing an agreement that would allow the operation of a new train during the Railroad Days Festival in October. As a result, Railexco will operate the Autumn Colors Express from Friday to Sunday, October 25-27, as well as the next several years, ensuring that the train will continue for the foreseeable future. As a result of Senator Manchin’s efforts, nearly 3000 people from West Virginia and surrounding states will be able ride the train to the Railroad Days Festival this year and many years to come.
Full timeline of Senator Manchin’s work can be viewed here.
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