Plans to remove out-of-service tanker train cars from a rail line in Essex County have been halted by Hudson River flooding that deposited tons of ice on the rail line to the south.
The owner of the cars announced plans last month to remove them from the former Sanford Lake Line between North River and Tahawus. But those plans have come to a halt after Saratoga & North Creek Railway had to close the line because ice in Thurman has made the tracks impassable.
Responding to a question from Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Claudia Braymer, railway general manager Justin Gonyo said the owner of the cars, Union Tank Car Co., still plans to take them away, but the timetable depends on the weather.
“Until we can clean up the ice issues, the cars are going to remain where they are,” Gonyo said. “As soon as we can, we will be moving those cars out of there.”
The storage of the cars has drawn the ire of state, local and federal legislators as well as environmental groups concerned about environmental problems the cars could cause in the state forest preserve and nearby waterways. SNCR has said the cars have been cleaned and carry no hazardous materials.
While Union Tank Car decided to move its cars after public pressure, SNCR has said it has other car owners looking to store them, and it hoped to bring others in for the revenue. The railroad’s lawyer said the state should compensate it for work on the line and revenue from train car storage if it wants to halt the plans.
The company has restarted its winter passenger trains this year. But Gonyo said ice issues have forced the railroad to scuttle its winter weekend “snow train” trips, which Gonyo said have drawn good interest after ticket prices were decreased. Tickets are $19 for adults and $9 for children.
He said 232 tickets had been sold for the three weekends that had to be canceled, and the railway hopes to get the trip running for Feb. 3, going from Saratoga Springs to Thurman.
“Obviously, we would like to get the trains running as soon as possible,” Gonyo said.
In addition to covering the train tracks in Thurman, Gonyo said ice affected a bridge three miles to the south of the closed section, but the bridge seems to have survived without damage.
He added that the railway plans to use its “new pricing structure” when spring tourist train trips resume later this year.