Private Rail Car Offer & Families Seeking August Adventure Drive Sales
ANTONITO, Colo….August 21, 2020, When the “All Aboard” whistle sounded at the Antonito Depot on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad recorded its best day of the 2020 season. Historic Engine #488 pulled a season high of 18 cars, carrying more than 150 passengers on a Rocky Mountain adventure along tracks first laid in 1880.
“What a joy – and relief – to see so many families and friends enjoying a day of socially distanced adventure on the Cumbres & Toltec,” said John Bush, president of the C&TSRR. “We are committed to continuing the tradition of steam railroading, but it’s been an incredibly challenging year. We are very grateful to everyone who has made this their year to experience the Cumbres & Toltec.”
The historic railroad typically opens its season Memorial Day Weekend with daily trains departing from Chama, NM and Antonito, Colo. This year, the first day of operation was delayed until June 13 and trains have only been able to run out of Antonito. The railroad is still awaiting permission to operate trains out of Chama, NM. The line runs between Antonito and Chama, crossing the border 11 times as it winds its way through the rugged terrain, climbing over high mountain passes, through rock tunnels, over trestles and among meadows and forests. The train stops for lunch at historic Osier Station and is a 6 1/2-hour excursion that was twice voted the nation’s most scenic train ride by the readers of USA Today.
In previous years, train ridership in August slows down as children return to school. And usually, weekends have far more passengers than on weekdays. But this year, August has been surprisingly strong, and weekdays consistently outsell weekends. The mid-week August boosts will help ensure that the railroad will make it through the pandemic and continue to operate through its projected closing in mid-October.
“Autumn is our most popular time of year,” noted Bush. “If we can finish August with strong numbers, we feel confident our passenger count will pick up considerably once the first glimmers of gold are spotted atop Cumbres Pass.”
August riders have been enticed by a new offer for a private rail car at a very reasonable cost. Because of COVID-19 safe practices and restrictions, the Cumbres & Toltec is offering a private rail car for the cost of 10 regular-priced adult fares. In usual times, a group of 10 would only fill up ¼ of a train car, but due to social distancing, now a group of 10 can have the car all to themselves and even add additional passengers for a very reduced fee.
The railroad has also recorded much higher numbers of passengers from Colorado as more residents opt out of annual family vacations that require air travel.
“People have told us that for years, they have intended to ride the Cumbres & Toltec and with cancelled summer plans, this turned out to be the year to do it,” noted Bush. “It’s really a nice time to ride as all cars have socially distanced seating which means you can spread out. We’ve added extra open air gondolas and all train windows open so people can enjoy the fresh mountain air and really get away from it all.”
The railroad has sold more child tickets than in previous years and indications are that families are interested in adventures to engage children that don’t involve screens. “A ride on the Cumbres & Toltec is like a step back in time and can bring the stories of the authentic West to life,” said Bush. He added with a laugh, “Plus, we’re off the grid so kids are forced off their devices and have to engage with their parents!”
The Cumbres & Toltec is following all current COVID-19 safety restrictions. All passengers will take a temperature test before boarding and wear masks while onboard the train. Private rail cars must be booked by calling the Depot at 1-888-286-2737 (no online reservations). For more information or to make standard reservations, visit www.cumbrestoltec.com.