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Railway is happy with winter ridership despite scant snow

Trains and trips boosted for 2012

Steve Torrico of the Saratoga-North Creek Railway tells Warren County leaders March 27 that his firm plans to double the number of trains running from Saratoga to North Creek and back by this summer, despite a ridership volume for their 2012 Snow Trains that was less than expected — due to the lack of snow and balmy, unseasonable weather.

Steve Torrico of the Saratoga-North Creek Railway tells Warren County leaders March 27 that his firm plans to double the number of trains running from Saratoga to North Creek and back by this summer, despite a ridership volume for their 2012 Snow Trains that was less than expected — due to the lack of snow and balmy, unseasonable weather. Photo by Thom Randall.

— The management of Saratoga-North Creek Railway is pleased with the ridership during their initial season of “Snow Trains” despite the fact that there was only meager snow and few passengers took the trips, a railway official told Warren County leaders March 27.

Railway operations manager Steve Torrico said fewer than 1,400 passengers rode on the 36 Snow Train trips from Saratoga to North Creek during the winter season.

”We’re happy with the results, and it looks good for our Snow Train next year,” he said, predicting that the weather — historically dry and warm this past season — would rebound to traditional conditions.

“It was the best we could expect with no snow,” he continued, adding that the snow train did introduce a lot of children and adults to the scenic rural train excursions.

Torrico forecast that 30,000 passengers would be riding the regularly-scheduled runs in 2012.

This figure is not including the wildly successful “Polar Express” themed holiday excursion rides that hosted 35,704 riders this past November and December

Torrico said the railway plans to boost total ridership by 20 percent in their second year of operation.

“We think this figure is very realistic,” he told county supervisors at a monthly meeting of their Public Works Committee.

The railway’s Snow Train service was primarily intended to transport winter sports enthusiasts from the Capital Region and elsewhere to North Creek for skiing at Gore Mountain — plus to provide tourists with rail excursions to view the snowy, frigid landscape.

The weather, however, did not cooperate.

The railway will be operating two more days this season — Friday March 30 and Saturday March 31 — then they’ll be closing down until Memorial Day, when then will reopen with a full schedule.

Torrico said that this next season’s train schedule calls for doubling the number of trains and daily trips from the inaugural year, and increasing the connections with Amtrak from two to four.

The schedule will also be expanded so trains will run seven days per week rather than five days, he said.

Friday March 30, the train will be offering a free “familiarization” train ride for area business owners and managers. People will be boarding the train at 7:30 a.m. and returning at about 2 p.m. after showing people the the various attractions North Creek has to offer, he said.

"If you haven't been on the trip yet, it's a great ride," Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino said to his peers.

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