All aboard! The summer schedule is out for the Abilene & Smoky Valley dinner trains for the railroad’s 28th season of operation. The season begins on Saturday, May 7th, and runs through the last weekend in October.
According to the organization, at least seven different dinner trains are being planned, featuring food from area restaurants. Passengers are treated to full course meals as the train makes its regular trip through the Smoky Hill River valley between Abilene and Enterprise.
According to President and General Manager Ross Boelling, the A&SV has increased its capacity for dinner train seating, as volunteers recently finished remodeling the “Enterprise” car, the railroad’s rare wooden day coach that was initially built in 1903 for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad. The car had been taken from service in 2019 to replace rotting wood and other structural issues. Coupled with the railroad’s other vintage day coach that once belonged to the Chicago Northwestern railroad, the A&SV dinner train seating capacity has doubled to 104.
“We already had the opportunity to try this two-car system out in February.” said Boelling. “Our Valentine’s Dinner train was a sellout and a huge success.”
Boelling said current track construction will enable the railroad to run more trains than usual, as a stronger track will enable more traffic on the rails. Crews are currently in the middle of a $300,000 track renovation project which will be completed in time for the 2022 season opening.
The railroad has three dinner trains scheduled for next month, with additional trains in June, July, September and October. Boelling said the first train, a Mother’s Day brunch on May 7, is sold out with a waiting list. The train on June 19 will be an afternoon Father’s Day prime rib dinner. Trains on May 28 and July 2 will be powered by the railroad’s iconic Santa Fe 3415 stream locomotive.
Boelling said more dinner trains are possible depending on the availability of caterers. He added that special announcements about trains and seating availability can be found on the railroad’s Facebook page. Dinner train ticket prices vary between $55 and $100 per passenger, depending on the menu being served. Tickets can be purchased through the A&SV Website, www.asvrr.org
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Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad photo