(May 9, 2014) An excursion train could be in Worcester County’s future.
Strasburg Railroad and Maryland Delaware Railroad are interesting in partnering to provide a local Strasburg Railroad franchise that would run from Berlin to Newark and Snow Hill.
“There are mutual expressions of interest,” Worcester County Economic Development Director Bill Badger told the Worcester County Commissioners during their meeting Tuesday.
Badger said he thought it would be prudent for the commissioners to look at the idea and he suggested they contribute a portion of funds for the first phase of a feasibility study, estimated to cost between $12,000 and $20,000.
The commissioners, with members Merrill Lockfaw and Louise Gulyas absent, voted unanimously to provide funds for the study.
“It would definitely be a feather in our cap,” said Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who has been aboard a Strasburg Railroad train in Pennsylvania, said. “I’m all for this.”
Commissioner Judy Boggs said she had also been a passenger on the Pennsylvania train and would like to see one in Worcester County.
“I’ve never felt Snow Hill as our county seat has gotten the just recognition for what it is as our county seat,” Boggs said.
During the 1990s, Worcester County had a train car attraction. Vintage train cars traveled between Berlin and Snow Hill for several years until they stopped because of liability concerns.
On April 2, Badger and representatives from the Maryland Delaware Railroad spent the day with the director of operations for the Strasburg Railroad, who confirmed his interest in the project.
Strasburg Railroad is known for its family-oriented attraction and it has replica of Thomas the Tank train and The Polar Express, Badger said. Passengers may be served food and alcohol aboard several train cars.
Before the excursion train idea becomes a reality, many issues should be explored to see if the proposal is viable. Those issues, Badger said, could only be determined by a comprehensive study.
The Maryland Delaware Railroad, Snow Hill, Berlin and the county would fund the first phase of the feasibility study and Strasburg Railroad would be a funding partner in the study’s second phase