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Texas State RailroadFAQS

Where is Texas State Railroad?

Texas State Railroad has two depots.

The main depot is located at 789 Park Road 70, Palestine, TX 75801 – this is where most trains depart from, INCLUDING the annual Christmas tradition THE POLAR EXPRESS™.   The second depot is located at 535 Park Road 76, Rusk, TX 75785 – this is where certain events, such as the PUMPKIN PATCH TRAIN RIDE depart from.

Where does the train go?

The Texas State Railroad whisks passengers back in time to when steam locomotives were king and diesel power was in its infancy. The train travels along the gently rolling hills of the Piney Woods and passes over 24 bridges … one over 1,000 feet long. Unusual railroad structures, such as the locomotive turntable located midway, dot the historic route.

When does the train leave the depot?

Most trains depart at either 11:00 a.m. Special event trains vary. Please check the schedule here.

Plan to arrive one hour prior to your scheduled departure time in order to take photographs of the engine, positioned strategically in front of the train depot.

If it looks like rain or snow does the train still run?

Yes.

How long is the ride?

Approximately four hours, round-trip. You are on the train for 1.5 hours arriving at your destination depot with one hour for lunch and shopping, reboarding for a 1.5 hour return ride.

What time should we arrive at the train station?

Please arrive one hour prior to your schedule train departure time.  The train accommodates over 300 passengers, all of whom are parking, using restrooms, picking up their tickets, browsing the gift shop, ordering lunch and visiting the museum. The train boards about 20 minutes prior to departure so we ask that you allow sufficient time.

Is there food for purchase?

The Mail Car Café is located at the Rusk depot. Lunch is available for purchase during lunch stop.  See our full menu here.

Appetizers are included in the Caboose, Dome and Presidential Class. Light snacks are provided in First Class. Any class is welcome to purchase snacks from the concession car.

Is there alcohol for purchase?

The Concession Car offers beer, wine and premium liquor service throughout the train journey.

A complimentary Champagne toast is served along with appetizers in the private Caboose, Dome and Presidential Class. Any class is welcome to purchase snacks from the concession car. Signature Drink Menu.

Anyone consuming alcohol aboard Texas State Railroad must be 21 yrs. or older.

Can I take my own food and beverage on board?

No outside food or beverage is permitted. If you have dietary restrictions, please inquire about alternate considerations.

Are reservations required?

Yes. Reservations are highly recommended as many trains sell out in advance.

Can different families, with individually online-booked reservations, be seated together?

Yes. These reservations can be booked separately online, but someone must call (855-632-7729) to confirm you would like to sit together in the same car.  A request made the day of travel will be considered but cannot be guaranteed.

Train Seating

There are certain seating configurations on the train that accommodate four ticketed passengers to each table. Parties of two may be seated with another party of two in these train cars.

Reservations with odd numbers of tickets

Our seating is configured in even numbers. To ensure that an odd number of people in your party do sit together, you might want to consider purchasing an additional seat.

All seating for THE POLAR EXPRESS™ is done in even numbers.  We do not sell odd numbers of tickets for this event. We do understand that our policy affects every potential passenger differently.  The decision to do this wasn’t made lightly.  For the past couple of years there have been far too many complaints and frustrated passengers that had to “share” their “four top” table or area with a stranger due to the sale of uneven tickets.  In order to avoid these frustrations the even ticket policy has been implemented.  All of us think we are willing to share our table with a stranger but it has become very evident that is not the case when it comes right down to train time.  By then it is completely too late to make changes and someone’s experience then gets ruined.

Is the train offered year-round and what days do you run?

Yes. Please see our schedule here.

Because of special, incidental or consequential situations that may be out of our control, Texas State Railroad reserves the right to adjust our operation between the date of your booking and the day of departure. These changes could include (but not be limited to):

  • Locomotive power for the day
  • Passenger car assignments
  • Layover and/or meal time during the four-hour ride
  • Departure and/or arrival times

Thanking you in advance for your consideration.

Payment/Cancellation Policy

Your credit card will be charged for the full amount within 24 hours of receiving your booking.

For Polar Express train rides: Once a reservation is made, and payment is received, there are no refunds or cancellations accepted.

Our standard train ride cancellation policy for all regularly-scheduled train rides is:

  • A full refund is given if cancelled for any reason 48 hours prior to your ride.
  • If cancelled within 48 hours before departure, you may rebook to another date without penalty.
  • Cancellations outside this policy and no-shows are not refunded. You may rebook to another date without penalty.

*There are no discounts available for special event trains.

Can the train accommodate groups? 

Yes.  We also offer group reservations for the Campground, Campground Clubhouse, Rusk Lake Pavilion and depot grounds at both locations.

A group discount is available for groups of 20 seats or more, on regularly-scheduled train rides.  Here is a simple explanation of how our group reservation, or venue rental, policy works.

  1. 25% of the balance owed must be paid 60 days before the ride. If time between booking and use/travel date do not permit this, we ask for the deposit immediately at the time of booking. Reservations cannot be held if the deposit is not received.
  2. With train reservations, for every 20 paid-for tickets, a complimentary ticket is provided.
  3. In order to receive a full refund, the notice of cancellation must be received 30 days prior to the use/travel date.
  4. With train reservations, a true passenger count is due two weeks prior to travel date, and with venue rentals full payment is due two weeks prior to the use date. If the initial reservation is being taken within two weeks of the travel date, a full payment will be required immediately.

We fully realize and appreciate the difficulties you face finalizing group plans and will make every effort to work with you to ensure that the transactions go as smoothly as possible and that your customers have a seamless experience with Texas State Railroad.

Group rates are NOT available for special events. 

Can I smoke on-board the train?

We are a non-smoking facility and train. At the train depots, smoking receptacles are available 20 feet away from any entry door.

Do we get off the train?

Yes, there is a beautifully designed and decorated depot at each end of our train track. Whether departing from Rusk or Palestine there is a one hour lunch break before the return trip.

Is Texas State Railroad wheelchair accessible?

Yes, we do have wheelchair accessibility but most motorized chairs/ scooters exceed the width and weight limit acceptable for space aboard the coaches.  Guests may utilize personal manual wheelchairs as long as the width is no wider than 32 inches. We can provide, at no charge, a manual wheelchair. These wheelchairs have a weight limit of 250 lbs.

Whether using your own wheelchair, or requesting the use of ours, please call us at 855-632-7729  so that we may explain the seating options available for your day of interest and what you can expect. There are ADA restrooms in the accessible cars.

*Please note that, for certain special event “locations,” the transition from the train to the ground is limited and we would not have a lift available. If a wheelchair user has the mobility to descend two steps, under their own power or with the assistance of someone in their party, the wheelchair can be waiting for them on the ground. The locations also have uneven ground and are held a distance from the train tracks.

Does the train allow strollers or car seats?

No. Infants must be held in your lap or a body carrier.  Toddlers and small children must be under adult supervision at all times.

Are there bathrooms?

Yes.

Is the train heated and/or air-conditioned?

Not all cars on this historic train ride are climate-controlled.  Please visit our “Aboard the Train” page to read more about each class or one of our informative customer service agents can answer your questions when you call 855-632-7729.

Are pets allowed?

No pets of any kind are permitted.

“Service Animals – Texas State Railroad is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and permits services animals in the facility. Emotional support, comfort and companionship are NOT covered tasks defining the function and use of a service animal under the law.

Please answer these two questions regarding the use of your service dog:

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Please refer to https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html#gen for more information.”

Are firearms allowed?

No.  Firearms are not allowed inside the depot or on the train.

If I pay for a coach ticket, can I go into an upper class to get appetizers and alcohol?

No. There is a concession car onboard the train where you can purchase drinks and snacks throughout the trip.

Can we take more than eight adults in the caboose?

The $700 (diesel engine)/$800 (steam engine) fare is for eight passengers or less.  It is encouraged that all caboose passengers be over 13 yrs. old.

Locomotive Ride Along Requirements

At Texas State Railroad, safety outweighs all other considerations when conducting our day-to-day business of transporting our passengers.  To ensure this, Texas State Railroad has developed rigorous internal policies and practices to achieve the highest possible level of safety for our employees and our customers.

While we want to be able to accommodate everyone that is interested in this experience, a ride along candidate has specific requirements that need to be met.

  • Locomotive Ride Along Requirements

    At Texas State Railroad, safety outweighs all other considerations when conducting our day-to-day business of transporting our passengers.  To ensure this, Texas State Railroad has developed rigorous internal policies and practices to achieve the highest possible level of safety for our employees and our customers.

    While we want to be able to accommodate everyone that is interested in this experience, a ride along candidate has specific requirements that need to be met.

    • Must be 18 years or older
    • Must pass a written and physical safety test
    • Sign an affidavit of understanding of all requirements
    • Verify that candidate will understand and comply with all verbal instructions from train crew
    • Pass a background check prior to reservation confirmation
    • A liability release form with a clear copy of driver’s license is required.

Policy on photography or filming at Texas State Railroad Property 

Commercial Photography and Video Use is allowed.  Please click here price list.  Commercial Film Location Fees

The use of drone photography/video filming is prohibited aboard Texas State Railroad.  There is no access allowed to the train tracks.  Train tracks are for trains. Please stay off!

Photography for commercial use, or gain, requires prior authorization. Contact Teresa Propeck at 602-316-9887, or teresa@texasstaterailroad.net PRIOR to arriving at train depot.  This includes engagements for commercial gain or profit such as movie films, commercial television productions, photography for commercial advertisements and wedding or group stagings.

Train Passenger Consent

If a Train Passenger (PAX) creates, uploads, posts or sends any photography or video footage depicting or relating to Texas State Railroad (TSRR), PAX grants TSRR and its affiliates the irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable and transferable right and license to use, display, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish and distribute for any purpose in any media, collateral or promotional effort. PAX also agrees to not exploit any photographs or video footage of TSRR for any commercial purpose without TSRR’s prior written consent.

Terms and Conditions of Passage

In recognition of the relative risks and benefits of this train ride, all passengers agree that the liability of the Railroad, its officers, directors, members, managers, employees, parents, subsidiaries, assigns, and agents, in connection with train ride, resulting from any negligent acts, errors, or omissions of the Railroad, its officers, directors, members, managers, employees, parents, subsidiaries, assigns ,and agents, or any economic or non-economic loss experienced in relation to the train ride, is limited to the total fees actually paid by the passenger to the Railroad for the train ride.

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Because of special, incidental or consequential situations that may be out of our control, Texas State Railroad reserves the right to adjust our operation between the date of your booking and the day of departure. These changes could include (but not be limited to): locomotive power for the day, passenger car assignments, layover and/or meal time during the four-hour ride and departure and/or arrival times. Thanking you in advance for your consideration.