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Columbia Dinner Train owes money to city, railroad

The Columbia Star Dinner Train owes the city of Columbia money even after its contract was terminated at the end of last year.

The Railroad Advisory Board met Thursday to talk about why the train is still on Colt Railroad Property.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train has already racked up more than $3,000 in fees for leaving the train on Colt Railroad Property.

The City of Columbia terminated its contract with the train late last year because it wasn’t maintaining their equipment, turning in reports, or making payments on time.

Colt Railroad officials said they still haven’t received any money from the company.

Colt Railroad is operated by the city and said starting 30 days after the contract was terminated, the Columbia Star Dinner Train has to pay railroad storage fees for leaving the train on the property, adding up to $70 per day.

It’s been 44 days past the deadline, which adds up to more than $3,000.

Colt Railroad Operations Manager Dave Sprague said the previous dinner train owner is looking for buyers.

“Mark Vaughn has a couple of parties interested in purchasing, and like I said, I don’t know, if they do buy it if they intend on operating out of Columbia, or if they plan to move it elsewhere,” said Sprague.

Sprague said Vaughn has at least two companies interested in buying the train.

That included one business from North Carolina and Iowa Pacific, which will be looking at the train soon.

Sprague said, “He said within a couple weeks they’ll send inspectors down to look over the equipment, kind of see where they’re at and what they’d be looking at there.”

Sprague said if the train is still on the property 180 days after the contract is terminated, the fee will increase to $175 per day.

The dinner train’s website has not been taken down yet, and Sprague said people are still coming to the railroad office asking to buy tickets.

“People need to understand that it’s a totally separate operation, they have nothing to do with the city. I mean we try to help and say, you know, ‘sorry.’ But we terminated our contract with them,” said Sprague.

ABC 17 News tried reaching out to previous dinner train owner Mark Vaughn Thursday, but he hasn’t returned our calls.

The contract was officially terminated on December 31.

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