LACONIA – The largely idle railway line between Laconia and Belmont is about to get busy again with people pedaling rail bikes from downtown Laconia and along the shore of Lake Winnisquam.
The new attraction was announced to city council on Monday evening by Benjamin Clark, president of Hobo & Winnipesaukee Railroad.
“The experience will be a first of its kind in the Lake District,” said Clark, “and will represent a new anchor attraction for downtown Laconia.”
Clark said the 1.5-hour guided tours are scheduled to begin this month. They will depart from the Veterans Square station and head south for approximately 2.5 km, including stretches along the shore of Lake Winnisquam.
Cyclists will pedal in two- or four-seater cars on mostly flat terrain. Similar to recumbent bikes, rail bikes place riders in a relaxed position, with supports for their back and seat, and the pedals in front of their body.
Clark said he expects 12 rail bikes to be delivered soon and that tours will begin shortly thereafter. Tours will run through the fall and then resume when warmer weather returns next spring, he said.
“This is a new chapter in the history of the railways right here in town,” said Clark.
In a related case, Clark told the board that due to the expected increase in activity downtown once the restored Colonial Theater reopens, his company was considering running “theater trains” that would run. between Meredith and the city center on performance nights.
City Councilor Bob Hamel later said during the meeting that the restoration of the theater is expected to be completed in December.
Clark noted that the state, which owns the Concord-to-Lincoln rail line that runs through Laconia, just spent $ 1 million on capital improvements to the line, including the installation of 12,000 new railway ties. of iron.
The Hobo & Winnipesaukee Railroad leases the line north of Tilton to the State and operates two separate seasonal passenger tour operations – one in the While Mountains and the other along Lake Winnipesaukee and Paugus Bay, between Meredith, Weirs Beach and Lakeport.
Hamel congratulated the railway on the new venture.
“Thank you for choosing Laconia,” he said. “This is a good thing.”