Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Lexington Dinner Train?

I have been waiting for this for a few years now. R. J. Corman wishes to bring his dinner train into downtown Lexington.

Several years ago when I first learned that Mr Corman had acquired the line to Versailles, I hoped that a Dinner Train could run to Versailles and back, even though at that time there would have to be an interchange across the Norfolk Southern tracks to reach the old Louisville & Nashville yard in west Lexington. I mistakenly thought that no one would allow the connection across Old Frankfort Pike that had been removed well before I became interested in trains. The plans soon became known and the connection was built along the old alignment into the yard.

Then came the rumors of Corman buying a steam locomotive. This also came to pass and then I felt "Is there anything that he won't do to increase railfanning?" People started talking about using the steam loco for the dinner train.

When the Chinese locomotive arrived and the crew began working with and learning its peculiar ways, a bunch of us railfans talked hopefully of excursions to Frankfort and Louisville. Mr Corman disappointed us by announcing that the loco would not be making more than a few trips a year and that the upkeep was much more than expected. As I understand it, the lease with CSX does not allow any revenue producing passenger service on the line to Louisville. Therefore when the steam train made its run from Louisville it could carry no paying customers.

Today the chairman of the board of the Corman Railroad, asked the board of the Lexington Center to consider using some of the space in the Cox St parking lot, for a boarding station for the Dinner Train to operate out of Lexington. Those dreams that I and others have had for five years or more look closer to becoming a reality. The wishes of establishing some sort of passenger service in Lexington to anywhere, look to be considered by some to be possible.

Mr. Corman, again I thank you for all that you are doing for the transportation needs of Central Kentucky, the University of Kentucky, the folks in Jessamine County and the rail industry in general. If there is anything that I can assist with, I hope that I will be allowed.

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