Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

May 30, 2006 > Big or small - trains are fun!

Big or small - trains are fun!

by Venkat Raman

Niles Canyon Railway, a nonprofit organization that operates recreational train service between Sunol and Fremont through picturesque Niles Canyon, will be offering a special opportunity for young and old alike to enjoy the pleasures of operating model trains in the month of June and again in September. Until this year, model trains were assembled for display on the luggage room floor of the Sunol Depot. This year, for the first time, a similar set-up will be displayed in Fremont at the Niles depot.

If you have played with model trains or visited the Railroad Museum in Sacramento, you probably have an appreciation of how intriguing and mesmerizing miniature trains can be. Model railroading is a well established hobby and a visit to the Niles Canyon Railway display of model trains may be enough to get you excited about it too! The models on display will be larger than the traditional Lionel sets and are suitable for operation outdoors, presumably in back yards. These G gauge trains run on tracks 1 and three-quarter inches wide and will be electrically operated using low voltage power packs to ensure safety for young children. The Sunol display will include two loops and Fremont will presumably introduce a single loop display.

Sunol models will be operating 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Fremont model will be running 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Visitors of all ages will be encouraged to operate the model trains, though very small visitors need to be first taught by a parent. After you and the young ones enjoy the small model trains for awhile, you can then board the big train for a run between Sunol and Fremont to enjoy the scenery through the canyon.

A special treat's in store on June 11 and September 17 in Sunol when rides on "speeders" will be offered. These small, specialized cars were once used to transport train crews and workers along the lines. With the advent of "high-railers" which are pickup trucks with flanged wheels at either end, speeders have been steadily retired from service. Now they are only accessible to private speeder clubs. This is a rare opportunity for the public to enjoy a ride. One day only in June and in September, while the regular train heads from Sunol to Fremont, speeders will give rides on the eastbound tracks. There is a nominal charge for these rides and it helps raise money for Niles Canyon Railway.

For more information, including train schedules and fares, call (408) 249-2953 or visit

Sunol Depot
6 Kilcare Road, Sunol
June 4,11,18,25
September 3,10,17,24
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Niles Depot
36997 Mission Blvd., Fremont
June 4,11,18,25
September 3,10,17,24
10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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