Excursion train

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A steam-powered excursion train stops at the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Passenger Station in Iowa City, Iowa in 2006

An excursion train is a chartered train run for a special event or purpose. Examples are trains to major sporting event, trains run for railfans or tourists, and special trains operated by the railway for employees and prominent customers.

United Kingdom[edit]

5051 Drysllwyn Castle and 7029 Clun Castle at Plymouth while working "The Great Western Limited" railtour from Bristol to Plymouth in July 1985.

A number of excursion trains are run in the United Kingdom and in some cases there are regular steam worked passenger services over some routes, one such train being The Jacobite which runs Monday to Friday from Fort William to Mallaig from April to October. A second afternoon train also runs from May to mid September but is Mon to Fri only, weekend services running from June to October. A number of Christmas Jacobite's have even started running on select days in December. There are also a number of routes across the UK which are famed for running excursion trains, examples include: Settle and Carlisle line, Cumbrian Coast line, Shakespeare line, Scarborough line, West Coast Main Line and East Coast Main Line.

As well as using steam locos that saw use for British Railways and other mainline operating companies, new build steam engines are shown to be as popular as vintage steam engines. The youngest steam engine to run railtours being 60163 Tornado at just 13 years old as of 2021.

The train operating companies that operate steam locomotives on the national network include: West Coast Railways, DB Cargo UK, Locomotive Services.[1] and Vintage Trains.[2]

Tour operators in the UK include: The Railway Touring Company,[3] Steam Dreams,[4] Statesman Rail,[5] Torbay Express,[6] Vintage Trains,[7] Orient-Express,[8] UK Railtours [9] and Saphos Trains.[10] Further details can be found on the Main Line Steam Tours index page.[11]

United States[edit]

Preserved China Railways QJ class locomotives 6988 and 7081 operating a triple-headed excursion train with Milwaukee Road 261 on the Iowa Interstate Railroad in 2006

The Pennsylvania Railroad ran special excursion trains from New York City and Washington, D.C. to the Army–Navy Game in years when the game was held in Philadelphia at Municipal Stadium (1936–1941, 1945–1975).[12] The special Pennsylvania trains were discontinued as the railroad, then known as Penn Central was on the brink of declaring bankruptcy, with the last trains running for the 1975 game. The tradition of running excursion trains to the Army-Navy college football game was resurrected in 2005 when philanthropists Bennett and Vivian Levin chartered a special train composed of their own locomotives and some donated passenger cars[13] to take recuperating wounded veterans from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland to the game in Philadelphia.[14][15][16][17] The Army-Navy Game trains ran in 2005–2008, were suspended in 2009 due to a death in the sponsors' family, and again in 2010.[14] The Army-Navy football game is a big enough event in Philadelphia that the local rail transit company SEPTA also runs extra trains on game day.[18]

Since 1908, an excursion train has carried travelers between Denver, Colorado's Union Station and the Cheyenne Depot Museum to attend the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo event.[19] The train was sponsored by The Denver Post and the Union Pacific Railroad, the latter which provided the rolling stock. However, it was announced in 2019 that the excursion would no longer operate, with the Union Pacific Railroad's vintage fleet being a contributing factor.[20][21][22]

Southern Pacific Railroad operated a Suntan Special from San Francisco Bay area cities to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk every summer Sunday and holiday from 1927 through 1959.[23]

Since 2013, Amtrak has operated the Autumn Express every year during late October or early November. It is an excursion train that runs on lines normally used only for freight. The train originates and ends at the same station. Past trips have included Philadelphia–Harrisburg via the NEC, the port road branch, and the keystone corridor; Philadelphia–Harrisburg via Reading, and Albany/Schenectady to East Deerfield, Massachusetts via the Hoosac Tunnel.

The Union Pacific Railroad has hosted an excursion program since 1960. The fleet includes two historic steam locomotives and four historic diesel locomotives, accompanied by a fleet of historic passenger cars. Included in the fleet of steam locomotives are Union Pacific 4014, the largest operating steam locomotive in the world, and Union Pacific 844, the only steam locomotive never retired by a North American Class I railroad.[24] Also included are Union Pacific 6936, the only operating example of the longest single-unit diesel locomotive ever built and Union Pacific 949, 951, and 963B, a trio of historic streamlined locomotives. There was also a third steam locomotive: Union Pacific 3985, which operated in excursion service from 1981 to 2010. It was retired from excursion service in January 2020 as a result of its poor condition, and currently remains stored in Cheyenne.[25]

Seasonal excursion trains in the U.S. include ski trains which operate in winter, with emphasis on weekend service, and the Train to the Game in the New York City area, which goes to Yankee Stadium in the summer and the New Jersey Meadowlands in the fall.

Other countries[edit]

Pictures of excursion trains in various countries.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.steamrailway.co.uk/steamnews/2017/8/5/locomotive-services-ltd-becomes-toc/
  2. ^ http://www.vintagetrains.co.uk/uploads/documents/VT%20Share%20Document.pdf Vintage Trains CBS Shares document
  3. ^ "UK Steam Rail Day Trips and Worldwide Rail Holidays".
  4. ^ http://www.steamdreams.co.uk/
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Torbay Express Home Page – Torbay Express Limited". Torbayexpress.co.uk. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Vintage Trains".
  8. ^ "An iconic travel collection – luxury hotels, resorts, trains, restaurants, riverboats – experience a journey like no other". Orient-Express. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Welcome to UK Railtours". UKRailtours.com. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Saphos Trains | Classic steam experience".
  11. ^ "Mainline steam tours index". UKsteam.info. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  12. ^ Brattli, Thomas (13 March 2007). "The Pennsylvania Railroad GG1: Army-Navy Day Specials". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  13. ^ "High Iron Travel". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  14. ^ a b Mayes, Alex (13 December 2010). "Army-Navy game train 'Liberty Limited' returns to the rails". Trains. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  15. ^ Buccolo, Dave (17 December 2010). "Re: Army – Navy game ... The rest of the story!". Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  16. ^ Polaneczky, Ronnie (22 December 2005). "Here's a Yule story that ought to be a movie". Philadelphia Daily News.
  17. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara and David P. (4 January 2006). "Army-Navy Train". snopes.com. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  18. ^ "SEPTA beefs up schedule for Army-Navy game in Philadelphia". Gloucester County Times. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  19. ^ "Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days Train". Archived from the original on 28 October 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  20. ^ "Denver Post Cheyenne Frontier Days Train to stop running".
  21. ^ "End of the line for Cheyenne Frontier Days train | Trains Magazine".
  22. ^ "Cheyenne Frontier Days Train Runs Out of Steam".
  23. ^ "SP and the Suntan Special" (PDF). History of in Santa Cruz County. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  24. ^ Union Pacific Railroad (2012). "Living Legend No. 844". UP.com. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  25. ^ Keefe, Kevin. "The Challenger at high tide". Classic Trains.