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Railway’s new initiatives, freight and local wine, praised by county officials

Saratoga & North Creek Railway operations manager Justin Gonyo and promoter Sue Wilder display a prototype of the railway’s private-brand wine, which Gonyo said would be available to rail passengers as soon as this summer.

Saratoga & North Creek Railway operations manager Justin Gonyo and promoter Sue Wilder display a prototype of the railway’s private-brand wine, which Gonyo said would be available to rail passengers as soon as this summer. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Poised to delve into freight service, the Saratoga-North Creek Railway is simultaneously adding a distinctive new twist to its passenger excursions, an executive of the railway announced this week.

The railway will soon be offering its own brand of private-label wine to its passengers, railroad general superintendent Justin Gonyo told Warren County supervisors Jan. 27. Passengers on Saratoga-North Creek trains will soon be able to purchase several varieties of regional wine in collectible custom bottles bearing the railway’s logo and deep blue color scheme, he said.

To be produced by Fossil Stone Vineyards of Greenfield, the wine represents not only a new promotional initiative, but an effort to “buy local” wherever possible, Gonyo said.

He added that progress is being made in lining up arrangements for hauling freight over the railroad from Tahawus through North Creek and Saratoga to downstate destinations including Long Island. Negotiations have been productive with subcontractor in the movement of freight, he said.

“We’ll soon be ready to present proposals to our prospective customers,” Gonyo said. “2014 is shaping up to be quite the year for us.”

In late November, Gonyo announced that the railway was negotiating freight contracts with nine different companies with the idea of moving stone and gravel products downstate. He estimated the railway would be moving 500,000 tons of aggregate the first year — or 5,000 carloads — and 1.5 million tons in the following two years. He noted that the Tahawus stone products might be used to rebuild the runways of JFK International Airport.

Gonyo said Monday that in preparation of the new freight traffic, the railway was replacing 16,000 railroad ties from North Creek to Stony Creek and 8,000 ties between North Creek and Tahawus.

He also said that his firm’s executives were pleased with the passenger traffic so far this winter. He said that 26,520 passengers participated in the railway’s Polar Express themed excursions, a slight decrease from last year.

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