Schematic of the restored Pullman car called “Adirondack Club,” which was built in 1950 for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. Originally the Blue Ridge Club, this is a flat-end observation car that has been rebuilt a couple of times over the years and is now the premier accommodation on Pullman Rail Journeys.
continued This year, the company is launching Pullman Rail Journeys, operating high-end overnight excursions similar to those operated in many areas of Europe, such as the famous Orient Express. The first tour venture will begin in early November from Chicago to New Orleans, with sleeping accommodations ranging from $1,950 for a Class B bedroom and $2,850 for a Class A master bedroom. Class D accommodations run $600 for upper berths and $900 for lower berths. That’s a one-way price, according to the website.
Passengers would leave in New York City, head to Albany, then to Utica and north on the Adirondack Railroad to Lake Placid.
But the Pullman trips won’t start anytime soon.
“I think this is going to take a couple years to get things done, but that’s OK,” Branson said. “This is a long-term deal, and we intend to have it in the ground and operating to benefit the people of New York for years.”
When launched, the initial run for the first season would be 20 trains over the good-weather months, increasing to 30 and multiple runs a week so people can come up on a Friday and stay the weekend or the week.
“A lot of it’s going to depend on the scheduling,” Branson said. “If we’re partnering with another railroad to get us partway — for example Amtrak or Metro North — a lot of it will depend on their schedule.”
Branson doesn’t anticipate running any Snow Trains like they do from Saratoga Springs to North Creek because the railbed is used by snowmobilers in the winter.
“We’re interested in continuing to operate the Adirondack Scenic Railroad as it does now with the same sort of programs and excursions and adding this,” Branson said.
Despite calls from the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) to tear up the tracks and build a 90-mile recreation trail, ARPS is standing behind its plans to build a recreation trail beside the tracks between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. The town of North Elba is already planning to build a recreation trail next to the tracks between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.
“That is absolutely our wish, and it’s not that hard to do and there’s an awful lot of trail alongside the track already,” Branson said. “These are not conflicting perspectives. Folks at ARTA seem to think the rails shouldn’t be there, but they’re wrong and they’re short sighted in their view. And frankly, anybody who would deny these communities the opportunity to have access to this, especially with future freight, is foolish.”