Conway Scenic Railroad acquires VIP Tour and Charter Bus

Conway Scenic Railroad’s recent acquisition of VIP Tour and Charter Bus Co. is intended to expand shore excursion travel business for cruise ship passengers arriving at Portland, Maine, and tour business from other points.

VIP Tour and Charter Bus Co., a Portland, Maine-based motorcoach tour and charter operator, joined with the railroad this fall to transport cruise passengers between Portland and Conway’s excursion trains in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley. 

Lana Sawyer, VIP’s Director of Operations, with her late father, Raymond Penfold Jr., who founded the company in 1985.

“This is a smart business decision that opens opportunities to grow both companies,” said Dave Swirk, president and general manager of the North Conway, New Hampshire, railroad. 

In  2024, Conway Scenic will celebrate 50 years as a rail-excursion operator. Its scenic Mountaineer excursion over Crawford Notch draws passengers from around the world. 

Lana Sawyer, VIP’s Director of Operations whose father, Raymond Penfold Jr. (1927-2016), founded the company in 1985, agrees with Swirk’s assessment. 

“This is a very good fit. I love it,” Sawyer says.


Conway Scenic and VIP plan to grow their tour business. Overcoming limitations in the transportation infrastructure between Portland and the Mount Washington Valley will benefit both tour and cruise passengers by offering direct transport to the railroad’s station in North Conway. Visitors will be able enjoy rail tours of Crawford Notch and other destinations without the need to drive. 

The acquisition also opens Conway Scenic to opportunities for vacation packages and international travel  in the White Mountain region and is aimed at boosting tourism with a minimal carbon footprint. 

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