Planning for 2021
Due to COVID-19 we were forced to shutter operations and lay off much of our staff in March of 2020, resulting in a major loss of operating revenue. With limited paid staff and a small group of dedicated volunteers, we are making steady progress daily to reopen and completely reinvent the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
The trackage from Cumberland to Frostburg, owned by Allegany County, is currently rated at FRA Class 1 standards which allows passenger train speeds of up to 15 mph. We are currently working with county officials to bring the right of way in line with Class 2 standards, which allows passenger train speeds of up to 30 mph. Our daily schedule of operations is based upon the ability to operate at this speed.
We are mindful of the challenges we face in planning our 2021 schedule with appropriate precautionary measures that will allow our passengers to safely enjoy the experience of riding our railroad. We are also mindful of the intense public interest in steam locomotive no. 1309 and their desire to come to see and ride behind it. We are working diligently and will release an operating schedule once it has been finalized. Initially, we only will be operating regular trains from Cumberland to Frostburg. We will constantly monitor the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and will explore the possibility of resuming our popular dinner and special event trains later in the season.
After the successful New Year’s fire up and test runs of no. 1309, we have completed numerous smaller projects to ready the locomotive for the 2021 season. Completion is imminent, and we will soon be working with the FRA to certify the locomotive. We will then begin test runs between Cumberland and Frostburg before the start of the season.
Volunteers have been working to cosmetically stabilize steam locomotive no. 734. The boiler jacketing and lagging have been removed and the surface is being prepared for painting. Preliminary inspections reveal that, while no. 734 has not suffered any significant deterioration since being withdrawn from service in 2016, the locomotive is in extremely poor mechanical condition and will require an extensive and costly overhaul. We will be exploring options for no. 734 at a later date.