The City of Tacoma is suing the Spirit of Washington for breaching a contract to operate a dinner train between Freighthouse Square and Lake Kapowsin.
The Renton-based company signed a 10-month contract with the city last year to run its dinner train on Tacoma Rail tracks toward Mt. Rainier.
The agreement stipulated that the Spirit of Washington would pay the city – via Tacoma Rail – for use of its rail infrastructure, equipment, staff and storage space.
Tacoma city council members and business leaders greeted the dinner train with much excitement. Some hoped that it would get the city closer toward creating a tourist train to the mountain.
The Spirit of Washington train began offering trips in August, but then abruptly stopped the service on Oct. 28.
The city is seeking more than $105,000 in damages, mostly money owed for the use of Tacoma Rail’s infrastructure and staff.
The city is also asking the company to pay for water and garbage service it used – totaling $507 – and to compensate it for the money the city would have earned if the Spirit of Washington had honored the 10-month contract.
Tacoma Rail Superintendent Paula Henry said today she hasn’t heard from Temple since shortly after he terminated the contract.
The city-owned railroad found out about the termination not from the Spirit of Washington, but from the local news media.
Henry said at that point she offered to let the company off hook for breaching the contract if the Spirit of Washington paid its outstanding bills to the city.
“We’ve had a number of times where we’ve tried to get in touch with them to no avail,” Henry said. “It’s a disappointment that it had to get to this place.”
The News Tribune has been unable to reach Temple for comment.
Temple said in October that higher-than-anticipated costs coupled with lower-than-projected ticket sales put the Pierce County dinner train under.
“We just couldn’t continue to burn money at the rate we were doing. We’re an icon, but we’re a business operation too,” Temple said.