No trains in Tri-Lakes this year

People board the Adirondack Scenic Railroad train at the Union Depot in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise file photo — Chris Knight)

SARANAC LAKE — The haunting sound of train whistles won’t be heard locally this year, as the state Department of Transportation will not issue a permit for the trains to run north of the Big Moose station.

The Adirondack Rail Preservation Society, based in Utica, has been running seasonal tourist trains on the southern end of the line and between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid for years. ARPS runs trains under the Adirondack Scenic Railroad name.

“DOT will be issuing a permit to ARPS to operate from Snow Junction to Big Moose,” DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Post wrote in an email. “This is consistent with the approved Unit Management Plan for the Remsen-Lake Placid Corridor.”

Post did not elaborate on the reasoning behind the decision to withhold the permit for local operations.

Bethan Maher, CEO of the railroad, said in an email that, “Currently our permit is still in place and has not been revoked, the next operating permit is forthcoming.”

Snow Junction is located just north of Remsen, and Big Moose is north of Old Forge near the Fulton Chain of lakes.

The rail corridor, which stretches from Utica to Lake Placid, is at the center of an ongoing controversy. The state departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation approved a plan last year that would remove 34 miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and replace it with a multi-use trail. The plan also calls for upgrading the tracks for passenger service from Big Moose to Tupper Lake.

ARPS has sued the state over the proposed plan, and the issue of whether the plan can go forward is still before an acting state Supreme Court justice in Malone.