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Irvine Park Railroad Unveils New Electric Train

Irvine Park Railroad Unveils New Electric Train

Visitors ride the Irvine Park Railroad's new electric train in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

Carol Cassis

Carol Cassis

9/8/2023

Updated: 9/8/2023

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ORANGE, Calif.—Irvine Park Railroad founders celebrated the unveiling of a new, fully electric train Sept. 7 along with dozens of young families anxiously awaiting a ride.
The $800,000 train replaced the railroad’s old, gas-powered model after 27 years of use. To inaugurate the new train, organizers gave free rides to the first 100 in line.
In addition to locals and their families, Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner was also on hand to celebrate the new locomotive.
“The old railroad has been here for 27 years, and we hope to have this new one here for 27 more,” Mr. Wagner told The Epoch Times.
Railroad staff also hammered in a golden spike at the railway’s entrance next to the new train to commemorate the occasion during the ribbon cutting.
“This is what teamwork does. When we work together, we get to achieve amazing things for this park and the community,” Irvine Park Railroad co-founder John Ford said during the ceremony.
Irvine Park Railroad co-founders John Ford and Steve Horn at Irvine Railroad electric train unveiling in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

Irvine Park Railroad co-founders John Ford and Steve Horn at Irvine Railroad electric train unveiling in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

Visitors ride the Irvine Park Railroad's new electric train in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

Visitors ride the Irvine Park Railroad's new electric train in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

As the train took off for the first time with its first passengers onboard, young children with their parents began singing “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad,” as they awaited their upcoming turns.
According to Mr. Ford, the new electric train is replacing the old diesel-powered train due to the older model’s wear and tear over the years, which he said made it “tired” and “worn down.”
The new train, adorned with bright yellow and orange fall leaf garlands atop its shiny-new green cars, is now open to the public for $7 per ride.
Mr. Ford and railroad co-founder Steve Horn told those gathered, when they first started the railroad in 1997, they went into debt to bring their vision to life. Mr. Horn said his parents even put a lien on their home to fund the project, not knowing if it would be a success.
Irvine park railroad co-founders John Ford and Steve Horn pose with OC Supervisor Don Wagner at Irvine Park Railroad electric train opening in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

Irvine park railroad co-founders John Ford and Steve Horn pose with OC Supervisor Don Wagner at Irvine Park Railroad electric train opening in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

Irvine Park Railroad entrance in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

Irvine Park Railroad entrance in Orange, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2023. (Carol Cassis/The Epoch Times)

“We spent and borrowed everything we had. Credit cards, you name it,” Mr. Ford told The Epoch Times.
According to Mr. Horn, his father built the railway’s original diesel train “from scratch,” a feat that has drawn thousands of visitors to the station, located in Irvine Regional Park, each year.
The families continue to operate the train station and surrounding amenities including the snack bar, paddle boats, bike rentals and more through their private foundation after they won a bid with the city in the 1990s to build up the area.
Since then, they have employed dozens at the station and surrounding pavilions, some of whom have been there for over 20 years, according to Mr. Horn.
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Carol Cassis

Carol Cassis

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California Insider
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