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Thunder Mountain Line suspends Idaho tourist train operation

Thunder Mountain Line Excursion Railroad will suspend operations of its tourist train in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, in 2016 due to falling ridership numbers.

The railroad line may shut down permanently, but company officials are open to discussions with potential investors, company officials said.

Thunder Mountain Line will suspend its tourist train in Idaho for the year.
Thunder Mountain Line

With ridership falling, revenue wasn't enough to meet operating costs in recent years, according to a company press release. In 2015, ridership was below the company's goal.

The company never regained its momentum after the 2007-2008 recession, said Thunder Mountain Vice President Chris Bertel.

"Our corporate bookings in particular fell off after the recession," he said. "Companies continue to be reluctant to spend money on corporate outings to off-site locations such as ours."

The Thunder Mountain Line began operations in 1998 under the ownership of Idaho Historical Railroads (IHR), a nonprofit organization. IHR sold the attraction to the Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad in 2001, a privately held company that continues to own and operate the freight railroad.

Company officials will determine later this year whether to permanently close the tourist operation.

"We'd like nothing better than to see the Thunder Mountain Line back on track again," said Bertel. "We are deeply appreciative of the dedicated employees and staff who worked tirelessly to provide a quality experience. In addition, we would like to thank our many patrons over the years for their loyalty and interest."

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