FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2007
AUSTIN -- State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) today joined with Representatives Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) and Chuck Hopson (D-Jacksonville) to help keep the Texas State Railroad running.
"Many people have been working together for a long time to save the railroad," said Cook. "This bill is a culmination of all their hard work. As this bill proceeds through the legislative process, we become closer and closer to ensuring the long-term success of the railroad."
Cook filed HB 3113 and Nichols today filed SB 1659, the companion bill in the Senate. Both bills permit a community operating agency to oversee and lease out operations of the Texas State Railroad.
Without additional funding for the railroad, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will convert the train into a static display as of September 1, 2007. As an alternative to a static display, the communities of Palestine and Rusk have joined together to find an outside entity to maintain and expand train operations under the oversight of the operating agency. HB 3113 and SB 1659 give the local operating agency the needed authority to pursue such a plan.
"Everyone agrees we need to keep the train a living piece of history," said Nichols. "By authorizing the local operating agency to find an outside operator, we can help guarantee our children and grandchildren can experience this important part of Texas heritage."
Hopson joined with his colleagues to stress the need to pursue all options.
"It is vital that we keep the train running," said Hopson. "If the state doesn't come through with full funding for the train, we will need to pursue other options. By pursuing this legislation now, we can keep the option of an outside operator available."
The Texas State Railroad is the official railroad of Texas. A historic train running through the heart of the Pineywoods, it provides recreational and scenic trips between the cities of Palestine and Rusk. To learn more about the train, visit: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/railroad/.