New details have emerged as to why the Thunder Mountain Line Railroad has suspended operations.
In a press release from Thunder Mountain Line, the company credits a difficulty in attracting new riders following the economic downtown in 2007 and 2008.
“We never regained our momentum after the recession,” Vice President Chris Bertel explained. “Our corporate bookings in particular fell off after the recession,” he says. “Companies continue to be reluctant to spend money on corporate outings to off-site locations such as ours.”
Ridership continued to decline in 2015 and ticket sales failed to cover operating cost for the train.
Bertel wanted to emphasize that most tourist railroad operations are non-profit entities that can use public subsidies or volunteers to offset cost unlike Thunder Mountain Line, which relied on ticket sales to cover expenses.
“Hoping to draw in more customers, we continued to invest in the business all along, by improving the rail cars, the train station and the overall infrastructure,” he says. “I think we ran one of the finest tourist train operations in the country, but we just couldn’t win back the business we lost during the recession.”
The company is still deciding as to whether it will be shut down permanently and Bertel hinted that a new business owner could save the attraction.
“It’s such a great attraction,” Bertel says. “If someone came in from the outside who wanted to invest in the business or assume the operations, we would be open to discussions,” says Bertel.
“We’d like nothing better than to see the Thunder Mountain Line back on track again,” Bertel asserts. “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.”
In a photo posted to their Facebook page, a sign outside of the attraction states, "It was our pleasure."