GRAND CANYON RAILWAY ONLY AMERICAN COMPANY RECOGNIZED BY PRESTIGIOUS “RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AWARDS”
WILLIAMS, Ariz., January 8, 2013 – Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) has been
recognized as “Highly Commended” by Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards
in the category “Responsible Transport.”
GCR was the only American company among the finalists in 15 separate categories.
More than 1,000 entities worldwide submitted entries for the awards. The overall
winner was Reality Tours and Travel of Mumbai, India, and the joint winners in the
best responsible transport category were Big Lemon Bus Company, UK and Green
Tomato Cars, UK and Australia.
“We are honored to be recognized by the Responsible Tourism Awards as we know
how many companies around the world are doing their part to make our planet a
better place,” said Bob Baker, general manager of train operations. Baker traveled to
London to represent GCR at World Travel Market (WTM) where the awards were
In applying for the awards, GCR noted the challenges of operating steam and diesel
locomotives which are typically not environmentally friendly. The main issues GCR
faced were the 12,000 gallons of fresh water, 1,200 gallons of fuel and large
amounts of petroleum-based lubricants steam locomotives used each day from
Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
GCR’s solution was to take the steam locomotives out of regular service and convert
them to use recycled vegetable oil for fuel. Reclaimed rain and snow melt – collected
during the winter and Northern Arizona’s rainy season – are used in the boiler for
steam when available.
Today GCR operates the steam locomotives only on special occasions throughout the
year and instead relies on the less-impactful diesel locomotives for its daily runs to
the Grand Canyon and back as well as for its popular Polar Express trains during the
Christmas holiday season. GCR reduced pollutants significantly in 2007 when it began
using Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel fuel in its diesel locomotives. The Railway also banned
F-listed chlorinated solvents used for cleaning resulting in a 98 percent decrease of
hazardous waste generation.
GCR has also embarked on programs to recycle used railroad ties, glass, metal
electronics, paint and paper. It has installed 10kw solar photovoltaic panels
generating 21,000 kwh of electricity at its Grand Depot Café, 252 solar thermal
panels reducing natural gas consumption by 17 percent at the Grand Canyon Railway
Hotel and a combined wind turbine/solar photovoltaic system to power its radio
repeater. The hotel also installed low-flow plumbing fixtures in guest bathrooms and
light emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact florescent lighting (CFL).
The Responsible Tourism Awards were created in 2004 and have been sponsored for
the past three years by Virgin Holidays. The awards were presented at a ceremony
hosted at World Travel Market (WTM), ExCel, London, as part of World Responsible
Tourism Day. For more information about all the Award Winners and Highly
Commended organizations, visit the website www.responsibletourismawards.com.
GCR operates daily train service to and from Grand Canyon National Park. The train
trip from Williams to Grand Canyon National Park and back takes approximately two
hours and 15 minutes each way and runs 65 miles through ponderosa pine forests
and scenic desert landscapes. The train offers five classes of service – coach, first
class, observation dome, luxury dome and luxury parlor.
The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel was designed to resemble the historic Fray Marcos
Hotel and Williams Depot structures that stand nearby. The hotel is comprised of 199
standard rooms, 87 deluxe rooms, 10 suites and one luxury suite as well as a large
enclosed crescent-shaped pool, a spacious meeting room, a large courtyard with, a
game room, hot tub and an exercise room.
Grand Canyon Railway is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service and
the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THETRAIN
Grand Canyon Railway is operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts.