Museum purchases 6 railroad coaches that had been leased past 20 years

Photo by Ginny Kropf: The Thomas the Train event pulls coaches for an excursion ride. Thomas has been in Medina for 15 of those events, which several thousand people to Medina. The Medina Railroad Museum had been leasing six coaches for rides the past 20 years. The museum now owns the coaches and is looking to upgrade them.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 17 August 2021 at 10:53 am

Medina Railroad Museum looks to upgrade interiors, including making one a dining car

Provided photo: Rick Henn is president of the board of directors for the Medina Railroad Museum.

MEDINA – The Medina Railroad Museum has taken a big step forward toward advancing their goals far into the future with the purchase of the five coaches they previously leased from Western New York Railway Historical Society of Buffalo.

The purchase will result in long-reaching savings to the Museum, which has leased the coaches for special excursions for nearly 20 years, according to Museum board president Rick Henn.

The coaches were stored in the Steel Plant in Lackawanna and spent four years in Canada before bring brought to Medina Railroad Museum, where they are kept secure on the siding near the Pickle Factory.

In recent years, Henn said the WNYHRRS has talked periodically about moving the cars to Jamestown, and he knew that could mean doom for the MRRM.

“These coaches are our greatest revenue source, allowing us to keep our doors open throughout the year,” Henn said. “We depend on these cars and it became evident we had to go shopping for our own coaches or buy these.”

Last fall Henn approached WNYRRHS about buying the coaches. He said regulations now require state rail cars to meet Amtrak standards, which costs a minimum of $100,000 per car, meaning WNYRRHS’s ability to use the coaches was compromised. That is not so on the Falls Railroad, which is the line on which the Medina Railroad Museum operates excursions from Lockport to Brockport.

After several months of negotiations, a deal was struck to purchase the five coaches, one spare and a large inventory of parts for $350,000. The Medina Railroad Museum took ownership on July 31.

That didn’t happen without a lot of wheeling and dealing on the part of Museum board members and Museum director Janien Klotzbach, who approached friends, family and railroad buffs asking for loans or donations. That accomplished, now the search is on for grants and donations to repay the loans.

It is the Museum’s goal to upgrade the interiors of the five coaches and eventually add air conditioning. Henn’s dream is to gut the sixth car and turn it into another first-class dining car.

“This will get us closer to our dream of running dinner trains,” Henn said.

The Museum is ready to release its fall schedule of train rides, which will include autumn train rides in October, Santa trains in December and the return of Polar Express in November and December.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to help with the purchase of the coaches may send a check to Medina Railroad Museum, 530 West Ave., Medina. Donations may be made in honor or in memory of a loved one.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Lynn Heintz, a conductor for the museum, checks on passengers before a ride with Thomas the Train Engine in May 2018. The Railroad Museum now owns the coaches carrying the passengers.