Revolution Rail gets Warren County approval for more 'rail bike' routes

Revolution Rail gets Warren County approval for more 'rail bike' routes

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Rail bike

Riders take a "rail bike" across the Hudson River. Revolution Rail Co. is hoping to expand its trips to include two sections of rail line south of North Creek later this year.

Revolution Rail Co. will offer “rail bike” trips on three scenic sections of rails in the region this year thanks to a new agreement with Warren County leaders to expand operations.

The company will be able to offer pedal-powered rides on sections of railroad tracks in Warren, Hamilton and Essex counties starting this spring, after Warren County supervisors OK’d a contract to allow rail bikes on stretches of rails near North Creek and Stony Creek.

Revolution Rail will also offer its trips along the Hudson River in the North River area, where it has operated the past three years, as well. That route drew 21,000 riders last year.

The county board’s Personnel and Administration Committee approved a one-year contract with mutual options for an additional four years that will allow the popular rail bike operation to branch out to parts of the rail line running between North Creek and Riparius as well as in the Stony Creek/Thurman area.

The company hasn’t made a decision on which stretch of rails in the Thurman/Stony Creek area will be used, or whether the rides will go north or south, said Revolution Rail co-founder Michael Dupee.

“We still have to figure out the routes and develop them,” he said.

He said the company’s plan was to have all three routes running this spring and summer, though exact dates for the two new routes have not been determined. Revolution Rail has estimated that the new routes would create 25 additional jobs.

Rail bikes are four-wheeled carts that riders pedal on tracks along picturesque sections of train line. All three stretches Revolution Rail will use run along the Hudson River.

The county will be guaranteed $30,000 in revenue from Revolution Rail the first year, with escalating payments for each year the contract is renewed, up to $40,000 annually.

County leaders will have to repair damage to the tracks from last fall’s rainstorm, which resulted in washouts, with hope of federal and state reimbursement. Revolution Rail will be responsible for minor track maintenance during the rail bike season between May 1 and Nov. 15.

Supervisors debated the terms of the contract, with Bolton Supervisor Ronald Conover saying he was concerned about a multiyear contract in light of uncertainty with the future of the county-owned rails between North Creek and Hadley. Conover said he wanted an annual audit from the rail bike company as well.

But county Administrator Ryan Moore said there was “flexibility on both sides to make it work.”

Supervisors voted to start rail line abandonment proceedings late last year, with some pushing for conversion of the rails to a recreational trail, but no formal request to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board for abandonment has occurred.

Johnsburg Supervisor Andrea Hogan, in whose town the company bases its operations during the season, said an expansion of a company like Revolution Rail in the county’s smaller towns is much-needed economic development.

“We don’t have an abundance of businesses lining up to open in Stony Creek, Thurman and Johnsburg,” Hogan said. “This is a significant investment for them. They are putting up some investment and they need to know that option (for a multiyear contract) is there.”

The full Board of Supervisors is expected to finalize the contract on Feb. 21.

Don Lehman covers police and court matters, Warren County government and the outdoors. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or dlehman@poststar.com

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