Texas State Railroad
In 2014, the Texas State Railroad (TSRR) shattered ridership records, one of which which stood for three decades.
The railroad ended the year with annual ridership of 79,354. That was an increase of 13,345 riders or 16.8 percent over 2013.
By comparison, the railroad’s best previous year for ridership occurred in 1984, when it was operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife. That year, 75,078 people rode the historic passenger railroad.
“The Polar Express” Train Ride, by far the railroad’s largest and most popular annual special event, also set new ridership records. The seven-week event in 2014 drew 58,184 riders from 40 states and four foreign countries.
By comparison, the 2013 event brought in 45,529 passengers from 31 states and eight foreign countries. The increase of 12,655 riders netted the railroad 19.6 percent growth in that event in 2014 over 2013.
The 2014 event was by far the largest Polar Express event in the eight years the TSRR has hosted it. In addition, the TSRR’s Polar Express event was the largest in the Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC’s fleet of railroads for the third year in a row.
“This just goes to show, if you offer a quality product and quality customer service, people will come and ride the train,” Texas State Railroad Marketing and Public Relations Manager Janet Gregg said.
“This railroad is the official railroad of Texas. It runs the only consistently operated steam train in the state and that alone makes it truly a Texas treasure,” Gregg added. “But when you add in the improved special event schedule that offers a wide variety of train rides for all ages and differing interests, then it becomes even more of a ‘must do’ tourist destination.”
“I am very proud of this year’s accomplishments at the Texas State Railroad,” general manager Steven Butler said. “Our dedicated staff has been a major part of bringing our ridership up to exceed the past record from 30 years ago.”
To increase ridership in 2015, the TSRR plans to add more runs to its Polar Express schedule, and five new special events throughout the year.
Among the new offerings are a three-day steampunk weekend event that offers four different train ride experiences, including a steampunk photo train, a Victorian high tea train, a Victorian dinner train and a Victorian brunch train.
The TSRR also features a Mother’s Day brunch train, a Father’s Day BBQ train, “Wine in the Pines” wine tasting train and “Pints in the Pines” beer tasting train.
Last but not least, the railroad is adding a new class of service to its Piney Woods Steam Excursions from June through mid-November. The Streamliner Diner class of service offers a five-course, hot catered meal (with three different menu choices each month) in a vintage dining car.
For more information about the Texas State Railroad, visit its website at TexasStateRR.com or follow it on Facebook.