New tourist train beginning first runs from Guelph into county

Fine early fall weather on the morning of Sept. 20 pro­vided an optimistic backdrop for the inaugural run of a new tourist train, running on 17 miles of track between Guelph and Guelph Junction.

Operated by Destiny Tours, the train runs on the city-owned Guelph Junction Railway, con­structed in 1888. That line, which had been leased to Canadian Pacific, has not seen passenger service for almost 50 years. Today, freight service is provided on the line by Ontario Southland Railway, which leases the line from the City of Guelph.

Planning for the tourist train began almost four years ago, stated Guelph Junction Rail­way spokesman Tom Sagaskie. The train will fill a role in promoting tourism to Guelph, especially downtown. The train’s terminal is at the RiverRun Centre. As well, it will raise the profile of the Guelph Junction Railway, which has, over the past few years, seen a surge in its freight business.

The train is hauled by a 1950s diesel locomotive, and consists of two cars fitted up with tables for dining, and a third car with general seating. The cars, built in 1955,  were originally self-propelled and used in commuter service in the Boston area. For the past few months they have undergone re­furbishing, including new seating and updated safety equipment to meet Transport Canada standards. The interiors still retain their 1950s am­bience.

The run to Guelph Junction and return is a leisurely one, tak­ing about two hours.

The route passes several hamlets, such as Moffat, Corwhin, and Ar­kell, which once had sta­tions.

While viewing the scen­ery, riders can enjoy a meal cat­ered by Platters Catering & Events, or relax with a soft drink and pizza if they get hungry.

The train is scheduled to run on alternate weekends year round.

Coming runs include a fall foliage dinner train on Oct. 4, a brunch on Oct. 5, and ad­ditional runs on Oct. 12, 19, and Nov. 1.

There are plans for a Santa Claus train before Christmas. Advance reserva­tions are needed. Destiny Tours can be reached at (519) 823-9799, and toll-free at 1-877-823-9799. There is also a website www.guelphjunc­tion­

The inaugural runs carried some passengers who had nev­er ridden a train, and young­sters who were delighted to see horses in fields adjoining the track. For many, the run pro­vided a fresh view of the countryside southeast of Guelph.

There are plans for exten­sions to the service, but those will involve negotiations with other rail lines. Destiny Tours has three more cars that can be refurbished when they are needed.