ADAMS — Although snow is nowhere in sight, the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum's Hoosac Valley Service has received permission to begin holiday train rides.
The service will offer holiday-themed rides on its hourlong, nearly nine-mile round trip, beginning on Renfrew Street in Adams this weekend.
The museum has been eager to begin its regular service before the holidays, but has been forced to wait for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to acquire 4.6 miles of railroad between North Adams and Adams from private railroad company PanAm. The service operated briefly over Columbus Day weekend, thanks to a temporary agreement, but has not been able to host regular rides since.
This week, the Hoosac Valley Service got the OK it's been waiting for.
"It's a sense of completion and a sigh of relief," said Jay Green, railway president and general superintendent.
The holiday rides will be without the typical historical information and narration offered during the trip, instead allowing riders to enjoy the ambience of a scenic train in the winter.
"Essentially, it's going to be a family themed event, with Christmas music, tasty seasonal treats, and a special guest — I think you can guess who that is," Green said.
Mayor Richard Alcombright thanked state Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack for spearheading the final steps in closing the deal.
"The secretary actually really took this over; the attention was necessary quite honestly to get this thing closed," Alcombright said.
The ability to run the holiday rides was especially important for the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum — a nonprofit based in Lenox — because it's in desperate need of revenue to stay afloat. Before it operated on Columbus Day weekend, Green told The Eagle in November that its checking account had dipped below $1,000.
The round-trip holiday rides will not utilize the newly constructed temporary platform behind the Brien Center parking lot in North Adams, which officials look to have ready for visitors in the spring.
"We just don't see it yet as a destination because there's no welcome train there, there's no restrooms there," Alcombright said.
Amenities can't be set up at the North Adams end until a source of electricity can be brought in, which Green said the Scenic Railway, city, state, and National Grid are collaborating on.
Local officials will also continue to work with state leaders to fund the construction of a final 0.6 mile stretch of railroad into downtown Adams, where the town has constructed a train station for the scenic railway.
The Hoosac Valley Service will offer four rides on Saturday and Sunday; the departure times are at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. The rides are $12 for adults, $8 for children between the ages of four and 12. Children younger than 4 years old ride for free on a parent's lap.
Though the scenic railway hope to offer tickets online soon, tickets are currently only available for purchase at the Renfrew Street station prior to boarding. If and when tickets do become available online, the Hoosac Valley Service will announce them on its Facebook page.