Saratoga & North Creek Railway
Saratoga & North Creek Railway officials recently announced their schedule for the 2013 Snow Train, offering more trips than the previous season but cutting the amount of stay time in North Creek for skiers.
While some business owners have grumbled over the changes — saying the new schedule only serves all-day skiers on Saturday rather than Friday, Saturday and Sunday as it did last year — SNCRR General Manager Steve Torrico said the changes were needed. At the Nov. 15 North Creek Business Alliance meeting, he defended the changes, calling them a “business decision.”
On Nov. 7, the railway announced its new schedule for the Snow Train.
“Our new schedule provides a variety of options for both skiers and sightseers alike,” Torrico said in a prepared release. “By running two trains on Saturdays, we are offering passengers the opportunity to either tackle the slopes early for a full day of skiing or enjoy a leisurely winter afternoon in the scenic Adirondacks.”
In its first year of operation, the Snow Train operated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Dec. 30, 2011 to mid-March 2012. It left Saratoga Springs at 7 a.m., arriving in North Creek at 9:15 a.m., then left North Creek around 4 p.m., arriving in Saratoga Springs at 6:20 p.m. That gave passengers three full days of skiing, with a stay time of almost 7 hours in North Creek.
There was only one problem; about 50 percent of the 1,400 passengers in 2012 were non-skiers, Torrico said Nov. 15. He witnessed many people just sitting around the train station all day waiting to return to Saratoga Springs.
So in order to serve the non-skiers, the railway shortened the Friday and Sunday schedules and created an extra departure on Saturday for this season, which will start on Friday, Jan. 11.
On Friday and Sunday, the Snow Train will leave Saratoga Springs at 10 a.m., arriving in North Creek at 12:17 p.m., and leave North Creek at 3:45 a.m., arriving in Saratoga at 5:57 p.m. That gives passengers about 3 hours and 30 minutes in North Creek.
On Saturday — with two round-trips — the Snow Train will leave Saratoga Springs at 7 and 10 a.m., arriving in North Creek at 9:17 a.m. and 12:17 p.m. The train then leaves North Creek at 1 and 5 p.m., arriving in Saratoga at 3:15 and 7:15 p.m. That gives passengers a variety of stay times: 45 minutes, 3 hours and 45 minutes, 4 hours and 45 minutes, 7 hours and 45 minutes in North Creek.
Torrico explained to the North Creek Business Alliance that the later departure time in Saratoga was needed because many families in the Capital Region are simply not getting up to leave at 7 a.m., unless they want to ski all day.
“To solve that, we needed a second train,” Torrico said. “Now we can accommodate both groups of people.”
Torrico also announced Nov. 15 that the railway will be running from Saratoga to North Creek on weekends in March, April and May. Iowa Pacific has invested millions of dollars in the railroad and the community of North Creek — including the $1.5 million purchase of the Sanford Lake Branch for freight service to Tahawus — and the extended spring service is another way the railway is showing its commitment to the region, Torrico said.
With the Snow Train, there will still be shuttle service to Gore Mountain every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through mid-March.
The round-trip from Saratoga Springs to North Creek includes conveniences not typically found in today’s rail service, such as complete ski and snowboard equipment handling and storage from Saratoga Springs to the base of Gore Mountain; tableside breakfast and dinner menus with wine offerings and bar service; and picturesque views of the North Country aboard vintage midcentury dome cars.
Skiers can check their equipment before climbing on board for the two-hour ride through the heart of the Adirondacks, and transfer from the North Creek Depot to the direct shuttle service to Gore Mountain, where they will find their ski equipment waiting for them.
For non-skiers, the Snow Train welcomes passengers to visit downtown North Creek where a variety of antique shops, country stores, bed and breakfasts and restaurants line Main Street and offer visitors an array of historic, artistic and cultural attractions.
Shuttle transportation is provided to Gore Mountain by the Snow Train on all arrivals and departures. On Saturdays, the 10 a.m. departure from Saratoga Springs and 1 p.m. departure from North Creek will not offer dome cars or full meal service. A snack bar will be available for passengers.
The Snow Train offers a choice of either vintage coach car or dome car seating. The coach cars are roomy and comfortable, ideal for family traveling, while the dome cars offer uninterrupted views of the winter landscape through large dome windows that wrap overhead.
Round-trip adult tickets are $30 for coach cars and $55 for dome seating. Round-trip child tickets are $20 for coach cars and $40 for dome seating. For those headed to the slopes, the Snow Train will offer ski packages which include round-trip train transportation and a lift ticket to Gore Mountain.
For younger ski fans, the Snow Train is offering a 2013 “Haul Pass,” which includes five round-trip rides on the snow train in coach seating for $99 – a 66 percent discount. Lift ticket must be purchased separately.
For more information about the Saratoga & North Creek Railway Snow Train, including a full schedule, please visit SNCSnowTrain.com.