A train pulls into Silverton last fall.
By Mark Esper
Silverton business owners raised some concerns about railroad operations last week in a meeting with Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad officials, including the amount of time train riders have for activities on the ground once they arrive in Silverton.
“They get about an hour and a half,” said Grand Imperial Hotel owner George Foster. He said that amounts to “time to eat and pee.”
D&SNGRR human resources manager Gary Kyle said part of the problem is with federal regulations governing railroad operations. A longer layover in Silverton means the train crews would exceed the maximum allowable workday.
But he suggested the railroad would be willing to offer more tickets on a first-train, third-train scenario during the peak season which would allow riders more time in town.
Kyle also said the railroad plans to change its bus service next season, in a move that could help Silverton.
Currently, an early morning bus from Silverton takes passengers to Durango to catch the morning train back.
But railroad officials say that has not been very popular, perhaps because of the early departure time.
Next year, the plan is for a bus to leave Durango at 7:30 p.m. and arrive in Silverton at 9 p.m.
That will allow passengers to take the afternoon trains to Durango, then catch a ride back to Silverton.
“The railroad is our main business,” railroad owner Al Harper told Silverton business owners. “We deliver to you a couple thousand people a day. We need all of you to come up with ideas that will be good for both of us. Any good idea I’ll look at. If it’s a good idea, I’ll help make it happen.”
“Tell me what works for you,” Harper said, adding that he is in no position to dictate to the Silverton business community.
“You all have an interesting dichotomy of people and interests,” Harper said. “You need to organize yourselves. I’m not Mahatma Gandhi. I’m here to do my part and be a good citizen. I am just one voice. I can’t make everyone happy.
“We want it to work. I want you all to be prosperous.”