HONESDALE - A May 9 target date has been set for the reestablishment of train excursions in Wayne County, officials said.
The expected date of the first excursion in three years coincides with National Train Day.
Mayor Jack Bishop said the Greater Honesdale Partnership was recently updated on the return of the train rides and he is excited.
“I will be very happy to see that,” said the mayor.
The resurgence is being headed by the Delaware Lackawaxen & Stourbridge Railroad, which is owned by the Lackawaxen & Honesdale Shippers Association.
The association board has approved agreements allowing the efforts of the DL&S to restart the railroad.
Paul Brancato purchased the local railroad in May 2008 and hired Morristown & Erie Railway Inc. to operate the line.
Morristown had a 10-year operating agreement to run rail service but pulled out in December 2011.
The agreements signed puts control of the tracks into the hands of DL&S.
Railroad consultant K.C. Smith said DL&S also hopes to have freight service, yet it is currently unknown what would be shipped.
Regarding the excursions, DL&S plans to use the 25 miles of tracks to run visitors between Honesdale, Hawley and Lackawaxen.
The railroad has multiple plans to run trains between the three municipalities, which should provide a boost to businesses in the three communities, Smith said.
The shippers association owns the locomotive and cars.
The locomotive needs work. The tracks are in good shape aside from some maintenance work that needs to be done, Smith said.
Smith has said the work will consider a “significant investment,” though he didn’t release specific numbers.
The project is being privately funded, he said.
Local business owners and officials have said the return of the excursions will provide a boost for Honesdale and other municipalities.
Gail Tucker, executive director of the Greater Honesdale Partnership, said GHP encourages local businesses to “embrace this second chance.”
“We are very excited about it,” Tucker said.
Honesdale Council President James Brennan said the train was an asset to the borough and he is happy that it is expected to return.
“I think the return of the train would be great,” he said.
The excursions had attracted between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors a year before the recession in 2007.
[Editor's footnote: The last scheduled train to move on the tracks was the Stourbridge Line excursion on Sunday, December 11, 2011, the last "Santa Express" run of the season. The day before, the train stopped in Hawley as part of the Winterfest celebration. The Stourbridge Line was started in September 1979 by the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce as part of the Sesquicentennial celebration of the Stourbridge Lion.]