15 years ago. and still waiting

Nearly 15 years ago, Mayor Bowers' Capital Improvement Program recommended bringing Amtrak into the city. This was part and parcel of the Hotel Roanoke renovation, and the Conference Center development, along with recommendations for a railside linear park (the Downtown Railwalk, work in progress), a downtown streetcar plan (I believe this was about the time that trolley-styled motorcoaches were seen around downtown), and enhancing both the Transportation Museum and the area surrounding.

Fast forward to 2007 - The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center stands, and is externally a jewel - internally a rotten prune. The Virginia Museum of Transportation is a true goldmine of history, but not exactly a destination. Still debating the trolley concept - in those rare moments your not laughed at for even thinking of it (not that Providence, RI proves the darn things work!) and still not one sign of Amtrak.

In light of the failure of Roanoke's leaders to secure even ONE train (the impending TDX notwithstanding), I propose something different. We already have some world-class rolling stock at the VMT, why not put it to good use.

Rail Cruise.

Simple concept - think of the Orient Express, launching directly from the O Winston Link Museum - trip includes a 3 night stay at the Historic Hotel Roanoke (2 nights prior - 1 night after), guided tours of downtown Roanoke and the Mill Mountain Star - then a 4 day excursion trip to destination unknown (at this point anyway). And in keeping with the City's focus on being a retirement hotspot, I can assure you - this is something the retirees love to do.

Just one of the many things some forward thinking folks with the money behind them can bring to Roanoke. Granted, it's not the commuter rail we are hoping for, but at least it's a train in a grand old railtown.

Something to think about while we wait at the station....

PS: Support The TransDominion Express, it can only help.

1 comment:

Virginian said...

Years ago there were 611 excursion runs. NS stopped doing them and gave the 611 to the transportation museum. My understanding is that NS is extremely resistant to letting non-freight trains on their tracks because they screw up their schedules. Still its a very good idea.

Here's a page about some of the 611 runs.