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Florida tourist train loses half its route after owner decision

AROUND half the route operated by Florida tourist train Orlando & Northwestern Railway – which runs as ‘The Royal Palm Railway Experience’ – was closed to passengers in April. 

The move came after the route’s owner, shortline freight operator Florida Central Railroad, decided it would no longer maintain the Tavares to Mount Dora section to passenger standards. 

The company claim the track is old jointed track dating from 1904-1910, and renewal for passenger use will be expensive.

Former Clinchfield Railroad EMD ‘F7’ diesel No. 800 (EMD 8479, built 12/1948) seen leaving Tavares on April 20 with a train to Mount Dora on the last day of service on the line. On the rear of the push-pull train is EMD GP30 No. 1030 (EMD 27753/1963). D LANGHAM

‘Royal Palm’ is based in central Florida, north west of Orlando, and had been operating several times a week on two routes from Tavares – the 4.6-mile section to Mount Dora and the 4½-mile section from Tavares to Eustis, which has continuous welded rail so will be maintained to passenger standards. 

Operations may be extended on this route beyond Eustis in the future. 

‘Royal Palm’ is the sixth operator for this tourist line since 1998.

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