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Iowa Pacific, Adirondack Railroad to develop Pullman service from New York City to Lake Placid

Tourists enjoy the Adirondack Scenic Railroad at the Union Depot in Saranac Lake.

Tourists enjoy the Adirondack Scenic Railroad at the Union Depot in Saranac Lake. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— “While we are quite aware of the structural challenges involved in developing this kind of service, we believe we are uniquely qualified to assist ARPS and this agreement is a first milestone in working toward the vision,” Ellis said in the release.

ARPS and Iowa Pacific have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that establishes their new working partnership.

Under the agreement, the parties will work together on the full development of a joint plan that can be submitted to the New York State Department of Transportation and form the basis of business discussions with Amtrak and other stakeholders. Iowa Pacific will bear the equipment and operating costs and risks, and will be open to partnering in the costs of capital improvements required on the rail line, to be defined as part of the full plan. The plan will also include outreach to several of the major hotels and resorts in Lake Placid.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’ve got a few hurdles that we’re going to have to work very hard at to make happen,” Branson said. “The corridor’s going to need a lot of work before we can run trains up there.”

ARPS officials thought of the Pullman car idea and called Iowa Pacific in 2011, according to Branson. They’ve been working on a draft of the plan all summer. They’ve seen what Iowa Pacific did in North Creek.

“What they’re doing over there is great, but Ed Ellis, the president of Iowa Pacific has railroads all over the country, in the U.K. and South America,” Branson said. “They’re proven successful operators, and I believe they have the interest of the region at heart. There are just so many ways that so many people can benefit from this, and he gets it.”

Iowa Pacific owns the Pullman Sleeping Car Company, which restores Pullman passenger, dining and sleeping cars from the glory days of high-end train travel and offers excursions. There are 70 cars in various stages of restoration.

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