Wasatch Railroad Contractors (WRC), founded by Utah Native, John E. Rimmasch, attended the Heber Valley Historic Railroad Authority’s (HVHRA) Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, March 3, 2011, in Heber City, Utah. During the meeting Rimmasch,
also a former employee of the railroad, presented an overview of a proposed business plan to the Board of Directors that included the reduction and ultimate elimination of debt, the restoration and enhancement of the current passenger car fleet, a detailed plan to return the historic steam locomotives to operation, as well as a detailed plan to grow the local economy with an increased railroad foot print providing expanded services and products. The WRC proposal changes the overall structure of the railroad from that of being a quasi-State Agency to that of a Public/Private Partnership.
Over the course of the past three years, the Heber Valley Railroad– located in the heart of Wasatch County– has suffered the effects of an ailing economy. Increased debt load, decreased ridership, and a stable of seemingly rundown and failing equipment have all contributed to the struggles the current railroad administration is facing. Additionally, the steam locomotives located at the railroad are out of service, requiring new Federal inspections before their return to service. Recent requests for public funding made by the railroad’s Executive Director, Craig Lacey, have caused the local citizens to call for a new business plan that includes debt reduction, improved equipment and enhanced service programs. During a January 20, 2011 meeting of the Heber City Council, Lacey was found promising to compile a new business plan for the railroad, while admitting openly that a current plan does not exist at this time.
The proposed business plan presented by Rimmasch was presented to the Board of Directors in response to the admitted lack of a plan by current railroad leadership. The plan points out the legislation which created the HVHRA allows the Board options for entering into public/private partnerships at its discretion. [2010 Utah State Code § 9-3-506 (k)]
WRC focuses on steam locomotive restoration and historic train enhancements all over the world. The WRC plan could ultimately bring new jobs and business to Utah. The WRC plan follows the pattern of other successful tourist railroad operations that have been created in other states as public/private partnerships.
John E. Rimmasch
Chief Executive Officer
Wasatch Railroad Contractors
P.O. Box 20425
Cheyenne, WY 82003