HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — For the first time, the Autumn Colors Express is scheduled to run from Downtown Huntington to Hinton Railroad Days on Oct. 25, 26 and 27 via the New River Gorge.
Rail Excursion Management Company, also known as Railexco, announced the trips earlier this month as replacements for past train travel on the New River Train to Hinton operated by the Collis P. Huntington Society for more than 50 years.
Lou Capwell, chief marketing officer for Rail Excursion Management Company, said ticket sales have gone well.
“We are at times overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we have got, especially in the state of West Virginia about this event,” he said.
In February, officials with the nonprofit Collis P. Huntington Society indicated they could no longer afford the New River Train runs due to rising Amtrak costs which put Railroad Days in jeopardy.
Capwell said there is so much tradition with this ride that will be nice to carry on.
“This is the 53rd year of transporting passengers thru the New River Gorge by train. We are just happy to be able to continue the tradition for West Virginia and the city of Huntington,” he said.
Under Railexco, more than 25 privately-owned vintage railcars will make up the Autumn Colors Express with meal service onboard included in ticket prices. On-board entertainment was planned along with historic narration.
Two rail preservation groups were working with Railexco to support the running of the Autumn Colors Express: Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp. of Ravenna, Ky. and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society out of Ft. Wayne, In.
Capwell said the name of Autumn Colors Express comes from the reason why people ride the train as it is the premier time of the year to visit West Virginia.
“It’s peak foliage season, you’ve got dome cars, you’ve got observation cars,” he said. “There is so much to see and it’s the perfect time of the year to see it. I think that is what has kept passengers coming year after year and I think that is why they will be there this year.”
Three round trips are planned over the three October days for the train. Capwell said they intend on going back to a two-weekend set up as early as next year but the cost was feasible for one weekend in 2019.
Tickets will be on sale up to the event’s date but Capwell said sellouts are possible. More information is available at autumncolorexpresswv.com.