By HOWARD BALABAN firstname.lastname@example.org
Medina Journal-Register — Thanks to increased regulations by the Federal Railroad Administration, the Medina Railroad Museum has postponed its 20th Century Ltd. dinner rides.
“We have some additional mechanical requirements to meet,” said Jim Dickinson, president of the Medina Railroad Museum.
Dickinson said the new requirements are “legitimate” but he and his colleagues at the museum were unaware of their existence.
“As of two years ago tourist railroads were not under these requirements, which are more like freight railroads,” he explained. “Congress voted to have tourist railroads fall under the same regulations as freight, and we were a bit caught off-guard.”
Dickinson said the engines that will be used to pull the dining car for the 20th Century Ltd. excursions are of 1952 vintage, and he said there are few things on them that do not work. However, he said those items do not affect the safety of the engines.
“The items that don’t work are either obsolete or not needed,” he said, mentioning how one item is a steam generator that is no longer used. The engines also have two motors apiece, and both need to be operational.
Getting the engines up to current code requirements will take at least a month, Dickinson said, but he was quick to add that there is always the possibility that the dinner dates can be rescheduled sooner.
“We’re going to apply for a waiver to see if we can’t operate while we fix what we’ve been asked to fix,” he said. Since the waiver must be approved at the national level, Dickinson said the answer on the waiver will probably not happen quickly.
Still, once everything is complete and the 20th Century Ltd. shuffles off, Dickinson said it will be quite the unique experience.
“We’re not sure of any other place doing this, taking a train like this for a dinner ride,” he said. “The old 20th Century Ltd. rode daily from New York City to Chicago and rolled out the red carpet for its guests, and we’re planning on doing the same.”
The trip will feature a three-course meal, wine choices, and it will be served on dinnerware original to the 20th Century Ltd., Dickinson said. The possibility exists that the dinner rides could run year round, depending on their success. But Dickinson said museum officials would be careful not to overload their schedule in the fall so as not to take away from foliage and wine trail trips. They would also schedule around the Polar Express and the annual Thomas the Train visit.
Anyone who has already bought tickets for the dinner train can used them at a later rescheduled date or have their cost refunded. Call the Medina Railroad Museum at (585) 798-6106 for more information.