Texas State Railroad State Park Has Uncertain Future - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/27/06 - PALESTINE

Texas State Railroad State Park Has Uncertain Future

Supporters of the Texas State Railroad are seeking emergency state funding to keep the East Texas tourist train rolling.

As things now stand, the Texas State Railroad State Park train between Rusk and Palestine will close at the end of the year. The last run is set for December 30th.

A task force is lobbying the state for $650,000 to keep the steam train running until the Legislature can vote on long-term operating funds.

If the Legislature won't fund long-term operations, the task force hopes to turn running the train over to a private company.

The railroad was first opened in the 1880's. In 1976, railroad enthusiasts convinced the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to preserve the line as a tourist train.

However, the train has been losing money. Officials say it loses about one million dollars a year and needs 40 million dollars over the next ten years for care of antique engines, cars and track.

Aides for Governor Rick Perry and House Speaker Tom Craddick say they don't know if or when the state will consider emergency funding.

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