For many, the excitement of watching a brightly lit train pull into a station to deliver gifts and Christmas cheer is a highpoint of their holiday celebrations. Railroads have been running "Santa trains" for generations, but some of today's railroads use holiday trains to help local folks who've fallen on hard times. I recently had an opportunity to talk with representatives of some of those railroads to learn more about the charitable missions behind their holiday trains."We think it's part of our corporate mission to support food banks," Canadian Pacific spokesman Andy Cummings told me about the Class I's efforts to use its two holiday trains as a way to raise food and monetary donations for low-income families in the U.S. and Canada.You can read more about the railroads' tradition of giving at this time of year in our web-exclusive story on ProgressiveRailroading.com.
This morning, I received a nice email from someone at the Coopersville & Marne Railroad, a tourist railroad that operates between Muskegon and Grand Rapids, Mich. The writer was responding to the recent Progressive Railroading story I wrote about railroads that run "Santa trains" as part of charitable missions during the holiday season. Coopersville & Marne runs annual "theme trains" — including a Santa Train — as part of its regular business operations, not as a charity fundraiser.
However, today's email writer wanted to let me know about some of the other ways Coopersville & Marne gives back to its community. Tonight, for example, the railroad will offer free shuttle rides to area residents traveling to a local Santa Parade. During other times in the year, the railroad hosts an annual fundraiser for the Ottawa County Sheriff's Mounted Posse, and offers free rides to military personnel and veterans on Memorial Day.
Not every railroad runs a holiday train for the purpose of raising food, money and toys for charity at Christmas time. But this morning's email writer reminded me that there are many other ways railroads can give back to their communities above and beyond their normal operation of business. To learn more about Coopersville & Marne, you can go to the railroad's website, www.mitrain.net.
Thanks to CSX for continuing the great Clinchfield Santa Train tradition.
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