NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — While the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will not be performing at this weekend’s RI Air Show, there is some good news for patrons head to the show.
A rail line, which has never been used by the general public, will offer transportation to the show free of charge in an effort to eliminate traffic back-ups.
Eyewitness News Reporter Kim Kalunian got a behind the scenes look – and a ride on the train – Tuesday.
The Seaview Railroad in Quonset typically only carries cars and scrap metal but this weekend it will be all aboard for air show patrons – marking the first time in history the general public will get to the ride the line.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation will be paying the MBTA $18,000 for the service, which includes multiple trips from T. F. Green and Providence to Quonset and back on both Saturday and Sunday.
Seaview Transportation president Eric Moffett said his crews will be volunteering their time during the show to ensure riders get on and off smoothly, all while beating traffic.
“If they can just hop on a train, relax, get off the train, go to the air show, come back and go home, it’s very easy to do,” he said.
The trains will drop off patrons at the gate, leaving them with just a short walk to the action.
The crowds are expected to be large, even though the Thunderbirds called off their performance in the wake of a crash in Colorado last week. The DOT said the trains are first-come-first-served and can hold up to 1,800 people if some stand.
Even though the train line is used just for freight now, Moffett said the train was created to help with war efforts in the late 1930s. He said he hopes someday, it will regularly take passengers to the airport and Martha’s Vineyard Fast Ferry.
For a list of schedules and train times, click here.