Can I own my own train and have tracks on my land?

John Marksmith 09/12/2018. 14 answers
Cars & Transportation Rail

So let me build you a scenario...

A very well-off individual has plenty of money, (30,000,000+) wants to own a steam locomotive. He finds one to buy and buys it. He builds a garage on his own property, but, how will he get it there? Does Amtrak allow for private connections to the grid?

14 Answers


StephenWeinstein 09/25/2018.

Amtrak doesn't control the grid, except for a small part in the Boston-Washington corridor. Most of the grid is opened by freight railroads.


Jon 09/25/2018.

It is certainly possible for an individual with the necessary funds to build their own private railway line and operate a train on it. If they do not use the line for any business purpose or carry any fare-paying passengers they do not need much by way of operating certificates, insurance, etc.

Because full-size railways are very expensive, most private railways are narrow-gauge or miniature, but there are a few standard gauge ones around. E.g. In the UK multi-millionaire businessman and rail enthusiast Sir William McAlpine had the Fawley Hill Railway built in the grounds of his mansion: [ Fawleyhill.co.uk Link ]

Connecting a amateur-run private railway to a working railway network is much more complex as it raises a number of safety issues. It is sometimes done by semi-professional heritage rail operations who have the funds and engineering expertise (and often have retired senior railway executives on their boards, who smooth the process using their old contacts) but is very rare with amateur lines.


Poppy 09/23/2018.

Amtrak does not own any tracks, lol! But it could be arranged by the owners of the tracks to motivate the engine on them to private property if owner built a spur to their land ( very expensive). Not sure you have enough funds for that. Trucking it in and craning it onto a couple of rails on property would be a lot less money, but still expensive.


DR + Mrs Bears face 09/23/2018.

Hi he can certainly own his own set of rails. however connection would be a whole different game this might be possible if he has enough money and lawyers to get the train company to agree.


Anonymous 09/23/2018.

You will need more than 30M to get a steam locomotive and railroad track on your land.


JetDoc 09/23/2018.

First off... AMTRAK does not own "the grid". In fact THEY don't own ANY tracks at all. The railroad company that DOES own the tracks where the private owner wants to build a siding would have to approve the construction, and probably get paid for the use of their rails.


Starrysky 09/23/2018.

Griffith Park in Los Angeles has a live steam club with miles of track and plenty of rolling stock. Riding one that is quarter or sixth scale seems silly to some, but can be quite realistic.

Walt Disney had a narrow gauge railway setup at his home. That became the inspiration for all the Disney parks' train lines. [ Wikipedia.org Link ]


Happy Gramps 09/23/2018.

a better option would be to have a "mini" railroad

[ Youtube.com Link ]


Name Withheld 09/23/2018.

A number of people, communities, institutions and companies own engines and cars on their private property . . . . obviously, it takes a lot of space and infrastructure to keep everything in operating condition - but there's no law (except local zoning) against owning such equipment.

Most heavy industrial sites have their own sidings/spurs to transport materials in and out of their property and operate their own locomotives on their property. I'm sure you can't operate your own locomotives on AMTRAK lines = everything would need to meet safety/insurance/liability standards = but a number of individuals and companies still own private cars (passenger and freight) which are "tagged onto" regular trains.

Obtaining the rolling stock would probably be the least expensive part of your proposition.


PoohBearPenguin 09/23/2018.

You could probably do this if you had enough money but chances are it'd just be cheaper to find another way to transport the steam engine onto your private track - even if that means having to hire a crew to build the steam engine on-site.


Richard 10/02/2018.

Add some more zeroes to your bank account.


ELKRIVERSCOTT 09/23/2018.

You pay em and you are on the rails schedule.


Kenny 09/23/2018.

The cars can be moved on the public roadway with a permit and rubber tires but the locomotives are too heavy . Buying property adjacent to a business with a railroad spur seems to me the best option . The company with the spur would agree for compensation of some kind, for you to add track from their property to yours long enough to move the rolling stock from the railroad to your tracks on your property .


Anonymous 09/23/2018.

Yes you can own a railroad on your own property...but its a pricey and time consuming exercise.I'd go for a model railway instead,a smaller version but still fully functional rideable railway


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