Home Nonprofit organization COVID concerns will cause Gypsy Express to close in Staunton after first weekend

COVID concerns will cause Gypsy Express to close in Staunton after first weekend



STAUNTON – The Gypsy Express made its first and last trip last weekend after going out of service for an entire year due to COVID-19.

According to Bob Roger, a member of the board of directors of Gypsy Express, nearly 900 people rode during the 7.5 hours of service of the train last Saturday and Sunday.

Except that it will be his last race for the moment.

According to Roger, the train management has decided to err on the side of caution with the increase in COVID cases and to shut down for now.

“We did our tests on Saturday and Sunday and it was very successful with a lot of happy and surprised kids,” he said. “However, due to uncertainties regarding the COVID-19 variant in our region, we have decided not to open at this time and will continue to monitor the virus situation.”

Earlier this year, it was announced that the train would be operational after not running in 2020. The board is still working through some staffing issues. Before COVID, they were looking for more volunteers. In March 2020, before COVID shut down the region, county, and the world, train management was looking to increase its number of volunteers.

At that time, the association currently had around 60 volunteers, but between 80 and 100 were needed. The more volunteers it has, the more flexible its schedule will be.

According to Roger, there are “too many variables to discuss staffing at this time and it is” currently under evaluation “.

The Gypsy Express board of directors, along with volunteers, had to repair the track and train due to flood damage last summer. The train was not operational last year due to COVID-19, but it also suffered severe damage after a flash flood that hit Staunton in August 2020.

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The train relies on ticket sales to finance the maintenance of the train.

The train handled 10,300 passengers in 2019 and 7,800 in 2018. 2018 was significantly lower due to heavy rains and flooding in the park.

The Gypsy Express dates back to 1958 when George and Linda Bartley ran the station. In 1991 the train was sold to the town of Staunton and by 1998 it was completely out of service.

A non-profit organization called Gypsy Express Inc. got together and decided to restore and keep the mini-train functioning. The group carried out extensive repair work on the bridges and tracks of the station, as well as rebuilding the engine of the 16-gauge G-16 diesel locomotive.

The train started again in 2001. The non-profit association donates the profits to the station.

The Gypsy Express, a mini train in Staunton's Gypsy Hill Park.

Laura Peters is the current affairs reporter at The News Leader. Do you have any advice on trends or local businesses? Or a good feature? You can reach journalist Laura Peters (she) at lpeters@newsleader.com. Am here @peterslaura. Subscribe to The News Leader at newsleader.com.



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