It was supposed to arrive in downtown Petaluma at 1:30pm Friday. Instead, the freight train filled with two carloads of grain, chugged into the railroad depot at 4:45pm, more than three hours behind schedule.
Around 1pm Friday, a crowd started gathering at the Petaluma Visitor's Center in hopes of catching a glimpse of the train. But only the very patient were rewarded as the train made numerous stops on its way from Schelville.
The goal of the trip was to test bridge stamina, as it crossed Haystack Bridge and several others on the journey to town. It then delivered the grain to before turning around.
"The idea is the bridges have to hold 286,000 pounds...our locomotive is pulling two rail cars with trains so we can test how the bridges perform," said Mitch Stogner, executive director of the North Coast Railroad Authority. He added that there were no problems along the way, but the journey was slow because the train stopped numerous times.
Officials initially said that freight train service would be resumed by mid June, but had to push back the date after an environmental group, Friends of the Eel River, threatened a lawsuit over environmental damage they said the train would cause in the Russian River area.
Novato city council is expected to rule on an agreement at their July 12 meeting, after which the NCRA expects to run the line three-days per week from Petaluma up to Windsor.