By Justin Franz
STRASBURG, Pa. — While the coronavirus is continuing to spread in parts of the country — particularly the south and west — more tourist railroads and museums in the east are beginning to resume regular operations this week in areas where stay-at-home orders have been lifted. On Friday, the Strasburg Rail Rail resumed regular operations for the first time in three months. The Conway Scenic Railroad in New Hampshire has been running since June 20 and will premiere its newly rebranded excursion to Crawford Notch — The Mountaineer — on Saturday. The new name is a nod to the historic Maine Central and Boston & Maine train that once ran to the White Mountains.
Many railroads are following guidelines set forth by state and local health officials. Last month, the Heritage Rail Alliance released its own series of guidelines and recommendations to help tourist railroads navigate the “new normal.” Among the recommendations is to have staff and visitors wear masks whenever they’re in confined spaces; to sanitize surfaces and equipment frequently; promote social distancing by making sure people can keep at least six feet from each other; and use assigned seating onboard trains so that space can be left open to create distance between individuals and groups.
The Strasburg was going even further than the rail alliances guidelines, by taking the temperature of every guest as they arrived. Anyone with a temperature above 100.4 degrees or higher will be asked to leave.
Other facilities that have or will open in the coming days include the B&O Railroad Museum and the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia, which held a well-attended “Parade of Steam” last week, will begin offering regular excursions to Bald Knob on July 4.