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W.Va. DNR to give up control of Cass Railroad

Charleston Gazette photo  The Cass Scenic Railroad makes an excursion during the fall.
Charleston Gazette photo
The Cass Scenic Railroad makes an excursion during the fall.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Following discussions that began last spring, the state Division of Natural Resources announced on Monday that rail operations at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park will be taken over by the State Rail Authority and the state-owned West Virginia Central Railroad effective when the Cass line’s current excursion season ends on Nov. 4.

The arrangement could mean longer routes and a longer season through the rugged, remote highlands between Elkins and Cass, while freeing the state from annual operating losses at Cass that have averaged about $1.5 million annually, state Commerce Commissioner Keith Burdette said on Monday.

All employees now involved with rail operations at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park are being offered jobs with West Virginia Central’s rail operations contractor, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, which operates the Durbin Rocket, Cheat Mountain Salamander and Tygart Flyer excursion train routes and the popular Polar Express Christmas-themed excursion trains.

Burdette said employees working with the Cass Railroad under its new operator would receive pay at least equal to what they have been making, plus be eligible for benefits under the Federal Railroad Retirement System, which he said “is quite a robust retirement plan, particularly for the younger employees…

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