R.J. Corman to launch long-delayed Lexington Dinner Train

ctruman@herald-leader.comAugust 5, 2013 

The R.J. Corman Railroad Co. said Monday that it will launch its Lexington Dinner Train on Aug. 14, a key move in a dispute between the company and Lexington Center Corp. that spawned a lawsuit.

The train's first run, which boards at the company's Lexington Station, 150 Oliver Lewis Way, near Rupp Arena, is to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the original My Old Kentucky Dinner Train in Bardstown.

The Nicholasville-based company said in a news release that the Lexington Dinner Train will run along a 15-mile track from Lexington to Versailles, passing through the Ashview and Calumet horse farms, Keeneland Race Course and the Woodford County village of Pisgah before returning to Lexington.

The trip begins and ends on a rail spur where the company first pledged to start a dinner train in 2010.

The spur extends east from Corman's Lexington yard, running beneath a bridge on Oliver Lewis Way and onto the parking lot owned by Lexington Center Corp., Rupp Arena's parent company. The spur leads to a glass-walled structure with red Churchill Downs-like spires that Corman built last year to house "Old Smoky," a steam locomotive that once chugged through China.

Corman said in a federal lawsuit filed in May that Lexington Center Corp. wanted to shut down the spur.

The launch of the dinner train apparently doesn't mean that the legal dispute between Corman and Lexington Center has been settled.

"As this continues to be a matter of litigation, we have no comment," said Bill Owen, chief executive of Lexington Center.

"We're not going to comment about the lawsuit," said Noel Rush, vice president of finance and administration for the R.J. Corman Railroad Group, "We are ... trying to reach the public through the media about this Lexington dinner train."

In late June, Lexington Center Corp. asked the court to determine a date by which the excursion train must begin and resolve other disputes regarding the 2010 lease.

In addition to its regular run, the train will cater groups and events. Tickets are sold online at Kydinnertrain.com and at 1-866-801-3463.

The train will begin service at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Lunch is $69.95 for adults and $44.95 for children. Dinner is $84.95 and $54.95. Special adult and children's murder mystery trains will be $109.95 and $69.95, respectively.

The menu includes a "golden spike" salad with local goat cheese, and a "chocolate choo-choo" dessert: a chocolate engine filled with Chantilly cream and dark chocolate mousse on a chocolate-raspberry track.

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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