NAVIGATING 2020: CHALLENGES, CHANGES, AND RESILIENCE AT TVRM
Navigating 2020: Challenges, Changes, and Resilience at TVRM
To our valued members, annual pass holders, and steadfast supporters,
Reflecting on the journey from the close of 2019 to the end of 2020, it’s undeniable that the Coronavirus Pandemic has cast a long shadow. However, amidst the challenges, TVRM’s story is one of resilience, adaptability, and unwavering commitment.
2019 concluded on a high note for TVRM, with the second-highest visitation in our history at 132,011 – just 565 visitors shy of our record year in 2018. With operational revenues reaching a commendable $8,887,032, we had every reason to anticipate an even brighter 2020. But as the year unfolded, we found ourselves adjusting sails and preparing for uncharted waters.
As we welcomed 2020, our operations shifted to our customary Saturday-only trains in January. We eagerly geared up for the steam operations set to commence in mid-March. However, by early February, distant murmurs of the pandemic began to resonate closer to home. Following a briefing in Hamilton County, our President, Tim Andrews, convened with the TVRM team, emphasizing the gravity of the evolving situation. By March 13, in line with Chattanooga’s broader response, TVRM temporarily closed its doors to the public.
With passenger revenue halted and the subsequent pause in shipments from VW, we swiftly adjusted our financial strategies to align with the new reality. Initially, we hoped the closure would be brief, perhaps only until the end of March. Yet, as days turned into weeks, the uncertainty loomed: would the allure of train rides endure post-pandemic?
By the end of March, in a proactive response, many of our full-time staff, along with most part-time and seasonal employees, were furloughed. Only essential personnel, such as shop workers on donor-funded projects, freight crews at Tyner, and the track department on state-funded projects, continued their roles. Scheduled events, like Day Out With Thomas, were postponed, and the launch of the Hiwassee and Georgia trains was deferred to Memorial Day, with hopes of a return to normalcy.
In these trying times, TVRM’s journey is a testament to our collective resilience, adaptability, and the unwavering support of our community. We remain hopeful and committed to our mission, no matter the challenges ahead.