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Excursion trains set to ride the rails again this year

ELKINS — It’s time for train lovers and enthusiasts to toot that imaginary train whistle because the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley RailRoad will soon be making a triumphant return to the tracks this season.

After the railroad’s 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, final preparations are underway to get the trains rolling again this year.

“Unfortunately we don’t have any scheduling or pricing to release just yet,” Adam Williams, the railroad’s package coordinator, told The Inter-Mountain Friday. “In about two weeks we should be able to publish the schedule for the 2021 season.”

The railroad is hoping to provide all the same services it has in the past, but because of the pandemic, but there may be some changes to protect the safety of everyone involved.

“Everything that we usually offer may be different this year because of the pandemic last year,” Williams said. “Safety is our No. 1 priority and we are only going to do it if we feel it’s safe for our customers.”

There is also good news for area children, as the railroad’s officials are also planning on offering a holiday train this winter.

“We do plan on having a holiday train, but it’s going to be a while before we officially announce anything about it,” Williams said. “But we are absolutely going to be running this year.”

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is a scenic rail excursion tourism attraction that operates vintage diesel and historic steam engines and passenger cars. The company offers train excursions through remote scenic locations in the Monongahela National Forest as well as a variety of exclusive live performances and experiences on board.

For several years prior to the pandemic last year, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad had brought the officially licensed Polar Express train ride event to Elkins for the holiday season. No announcement has yet been made on whether the Polar Express will return to Elkins this winter.

The Polar Express train rides are based on the holiday feature film from Warner Bros. and the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, about a doubting young boy who takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, pajama-clad passengers relive the magic of the story as this nighttime train whisks families away for an unforgettable ride to the North Pole. During the journey, the conductor punches tickets and dancing chefs serve hot chocolate, followed by a reading of Van Allsburg’s classic. At the North Pole, Santa boards the train and greets the children and offers a gift for those who truly believe — a silver sleigh bell.

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