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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 29, 2024 12:18 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:33 am
Posts: 17
Location: Baltimore, MD area
nathansixchime wrote:
Banging around this thread the last few days, and with respect to the standards we all love (yay steam, boo internal combustion, yay fast) I keep trying to understand what we're solving for. It's kind of like seeing someone talk about a new smartphone that has features that have been on the market for years already, but they're in a slightly different package, or arranged in a slightly different manner.

What problem is this thread addressing that the market is not already answering in some way?

Operations on the Buckingham Branch have the potential to be well on their well to becoming a Diesel Free Zone™ though the 611 leading portion is quite a lovely show and the vestibule question is likely one that can be addressed in time.

Reading & Northern operates variously sized steam locomotives in various capacities with no diesel locomotives and open windows in a variety of classes (my tickets purchased already booked for this year too).

The 765 operates dozens of trips of late with no diesels, with open windows or open vestibules and sound cars, albeit at lower speeds. Though as noted before, the last mainline*** steam trips in the country which operated around 70MPH or higher appear to have been out of Chicago only 6 years ago (with a diesel on the rear of a few of them since the train couldn't turn on a few of them.)

Not a single person among the 20,000 served by our group over the two years complained about slower speeds and many of the nonfans enjoyed what are normally railfan perks, i.e. the runbys, the open-air car, vestibules, etc. which is part of the mission to radicalize the normal passenger and turn them into the fan for life. I do see some purchasing decisions influenced by motive power, but the offerings sell out regardless.

If the onboard experience, amenities, and customer service are solid, the rest is just cream. First class is the most popular because it is a differentiator, an experience, something you can't necessarily do every day. If a customer is going to go to all of the trouble to drive, get lodging, do whatever, they want to splurge and at least get the bagel and the coffee and the danish in air conditioning too. We've been treating our open-air car as a first-class car, including food service and the like in it, and will be rolling out two more open-air/open window parlor/lounge cars in the future so folks can get their cinders and their tea.

Like first class, steam is a differentiator. Once you get precious about diesels in the consist or speeds, the audience you're speaking to gets narrower and narrower. That's why 90% of our train serves the general public and 10% caters to those that are in the know ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Can this ratio work if it's flipped around? Only if the onboard experience works.

People do ask "can't it pull it the train by itself?" but it's not a purchasing decision. "What's the speed limit here?" they inquire, but they're already on the train. Honestly, the folks usually asking us these questions are trying to plan out their photos and videos lineside and aren't buying the tickets.

But, who are we solving for? Are we solving for RYPN.org? Aren't the market's needs being met already? Not that I don't mind continuous improvement or having standards (it's why we often wind up turning our all-day excursions around overnight so steam leads both ways on despite the extra time, mileage, personnel, expense etc...) Perfect shouldn't be the enemy of good, but good should be a champion of great. Lots of offerings out there are pretty good-to-great already.

Edited to add this postscript -- there should really be a thread that lists everything a "mainline" experience ought to have to be successful (profitable, hospitable, marketable, patronized, etc) that is not limited to just motive power exclusivity or speed. We index way too much on the obvious wonky stuff, never the amenities, experience, destinations, or polish.

I would go further to define a "mainline" as a "destination-oriented or experience-driven outing between two or more points that either exceeds a particular speed (30mph?), duration (half day, all day?), or distance (30 miles or greater?)


To quote Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World.... "we're not worthy, we're not worthy!!!"

Excellent points sir. And while it not be an exact blueprint, that's a pretty damn good formula if I do say so myself.

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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 29, 2024 1:43 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 321
Location: Houston, TX
Thank you Kelly, for injecting common sense and a current perspective into this thread, as you do with so many others as well.


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 29, 2024 3:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2882
I have to question the mention of "requiring" 60 mph+ speeds. What benefit does that bring?

Is it fun? Certainly. I've been behind 4449 at 60+ and it's definitely amazing. I'm not sure what the fastest speed steam I've ridden is, maybe 70 mph, not sure. Again, definitely quite impressive.

But as Kelly Says, let's consider the market. Do most passengers want to go 70 mph? If they want to ride in sealed coaches at 70 mph for long distances, there's this thing called Amtrak that does it daily and it's a lot cheaper.

I agree that 40 mph is a good speed for most trips. Maybe a bit of a sprint at the end of the run to show off? But generally speaking, people aren't there to go fast. Running at 60, you cover a 60 mile section in an hour. Drop to 40 mph and now your trip is an hour and a half. Make it 30 and it's 2 hours. Passengers get a longer run, it's still a nice speed that feels like you're getting somewhere, and it's less wear and tear on the equipment. Also, if something goes wrong, slower speeds could help there too. Would you rather have the brakes in emergency at 30 or 60? So why push the speed?

If the trip stops and unloads passengers at a "destination", then it seems like a runby would be possible too. Drop the passengers, the back up the train and have it run through the station. Yes, you'd have to coordinate keeping them back from the track, but that's true of any runby, so no difference there.


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 29, 2024 6:47 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 2332
Location: The Atlantic Coast Line
Quote:
Make it 30 and it's 2 hours. Passengers get a longer run, it's still a nice speed that feels like you're getting somewhere, and it's less wear and tear on the equipment. Also, if something goes wrong, slower speeds could help there too. Would you rather have the brakes in emergency at 30 or 60? So why push the speed?

Amen.


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 29, 2024 7:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11497
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
There is one practical aside to a higher maximum speed, and that is to be ABLE to stay the hell out of the way of the freight that's paying the bills, and maybe even Amtrak or commuter trains. It's all well and good to plod along at 30-40 mph, but there's no way such a train is going to be allowed on, for example, the BNSF "Transcon" (which will get raised if we want to consider ATSF 3751 and 2926) or the former RF&P in Virginia. Of course, if we're dealing with a main line that barely has any freight and sees Amtrak only three times a week, that's another matter.

As for criticism that we're being negative about this proposal/suggestion/teasing:

The only issue for the skepticism is that the name behind this is the same as the one who gave us American Coal Enterprises, the Yellow Ribbon Express, the Greenbrier Limited, and the 21st Century Limited -- Not............

Had this proposal come from the likes of Messrs. Lynch, Moorman, Levin, McCormack, or the like, I'd be planning blocks of time to come east in the fall. As it is, though, I'd put this in a hair above the same league as the promise of a B6sb in a sunken quarry, or the kid that starts a GoFundMe to "save" a locomotive before even talking with the owner/RR. Or maybe Alan Pegler and LNER 4472 in the past.


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2024 10:47 am 

Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:30 pm
Posts: 984
Location: Bucks County, PA
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
There is one practical aside to a higher maximum speed, and that is to be ABLE to stay the hell out of the way of the freight that's paying the bills, and maybe even Amtrak or commuter trains. It's all well and good to plod along at 30-40 mph, but there's no way such a train is going to be allowed on, for example, the BNSF "Transcon" (which will get raised if we want to consider ATSF 3751 and 2926) or the former RF&P in Virginia. Of course, if we're dealing with a main line that barely has any freight and sees Amtrak only three times a week, that's another matter.


For example, with the 611's Buckingham Branch runs last fall, on Fridays and Sundays, 611 either met or had to wait for Amtrak's Cardinal to pass in both directions. Fortunately, there's multiple sidings along the line that either the Cardinal could pull into or 611 could pull into in order to wait for the other one. There were a couple of times (even in the one weekend I was down there) where a 611 departure was held because of waiting for Amtrak to clear (running either late or on time), or for an eastbound CSX empty coal drag to pass through.

Most of the time, however, whether due to excellent dispatching or excellent scheduling, each train generally stayed out of the way of the other.

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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2024 12:11 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2021 4:36 pm
Posts: 220
Bobharbison wrote:

But as Kelly Says, let's consider the market. Do most passengers want to go 70 mph? If they want to ride in sealed coaches at 70 mph for long distances, there's this thing called Amtrak that does it daily and it's a lot cheaper.

I agree that 40 mph is a good speed for most trips. Maybe a bit of a sprint at the end of the run to show off? But generally speaking, people aren't there to go fast. Running at 60, you cover a 60 mile section in an hour. Drop to 40 mph and now your trip is an hour and a half. Make it 30 and it's 2 hours. Passengers get a longer run, it's still a nice speed that feels like you're getting somewhere, and it's less wear and tear on the equipment. Also, if something goes wrong, slower speeds could help there too.


Been meaning to say something like this myself. Speed is as much a function of distance as it is infrastructure. I remember that Reading & Northern was doing some trackwork to bump speeds up and on one of the RDC charters some guys asked if that meant steam speeds would be increased. The R&N employee's response was "No, they'll stay where they are, because the speeds we run are the best compromise between allowing people to see scenery and keeping the trip length where they feel like they're getting their money's worth but not so long that they lose interest."

My local tourist line has a 216 mile round trip on their longer runs, and to make that trip, they really have to fly on a lot of the run in spots, and it's still an 11 hour round trip with no layover. Look at the Google reviews and there's quite a few "We went so fast I could barely see the scenery" complaints.


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2024 12:41 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 1404
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Reading Company ran its Iron Horse Rambles at passenger train speed. On the New York Branch, it was 75. On the Main Line (Phila to Pottsville) it was 60. Other branches were 50 or 35 mostly.

The theory might have been to make track speed until they got to the scenic branch the passengers wanted to see.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2024 1:03 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 1747
Location: Back in NE Ohio
EJ Berry wrote:
The theory might have been to make track speed until they got to the scenic branch the passengers wanted to see.Phil Mulligan


Sixty years ago I really don't think that much thought went into admiring the scenery, so much as enjoying the last opportunities to ride behind the beasts.


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2024 2:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1497
For every passenger that wants to go slow and look at scenery, there is one that wants to go fast.

Mainline Steam, to me, is the UP Big Boy and the CP Empress, other than that I don't think we will see any mainline steam this year by definition.


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2024 5:15 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:56 pm
Posts: 411
Location: Ontario, Canada.
Back in the 70s, CNR ran 6060 at main line speeds. I remember one very nice trip east of Toronto. We went on some secondary and branch lines (some of those lines are long gone) at a leisurely pace with runpasts. On the return, we ended up on the main for the return to Toronto. There were speeds above 80 mph. Quite exhilarating!

Here is some mainline running. Beautiful sounds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXJ9eKwYSpU


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2024 9:47 am 

Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 8:06 am
Posts: 37
Location: Walla Walla, Washington
Last lap, Aurora to Union Station, 5632, 91 mph based on stopwatch timing by open vestibule (not by me) late evening. Perhaps a La Crosse trip, out and back. AS stated many times, this was a LOUD locomotive.


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2024 3:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11497
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
rusticmike6 wrote:
Last lap, Aurora to Union Station, 5632, 91 mph based on stopwatch timing by open vestibule (not by me) late evening. Perhaps a La Crosse trip, out and back. AS stated many times, this was a LOUD locomotive.

And if you wanted to see the "scenery" between Aurora and Chicago Union Station, you had your choice of "dinkies" every weekday on the Burlington!


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2024 3:23 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 1404
Location: Philadelphia, PA
60years ago, RDG's best seling Rambles went on the Catawissa Branch from Tamaqua to West Milton for the scenery.

The Catawissa portion was behind diesels. RDG fitted an F3B with pass-through steam and signal lines to give their FP7's extra tractive effort lifting 22 cars up 1.6%. T-1's were not permitted on most of the Branch.

These trips were long (340 miles) and the T-1's took a different route via Gordon and could be turned, load coal and water, and get to West Milton before the diesel train which also had a few photo stops.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: C&O 614 To Goshen, VA?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2024 7:55 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11497
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
EJ Berry wrote:
. . . and get to West Milton before the diesel train which also had a few photo stops.


WE have been repeatedly assured by a certain blowhard that "no one wants to photograph diseasels!!!!"

It seems like you've just proven him wrong.


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