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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:47 pm
Posts: 475
Pegasuspinto wrote:
All the above are important, but the biggest one is the liability, reflected in insurance costs. It's the creeping death of...well...everything. Every year the insurance costs get worse, the imagined fears get bigger. The only way we can currently hold that back is to operate as safely as possible, but the time may come where we have to come together and deal directly with this issue. If we can reduce the risk, real or imagined, we can open up further opportunities for operation.

I also agree with the idea that it would be best to offer total immersion in the era being depicted, or as close as possible.


Hypothetically question: Assuming that a lot of the insurance issues come from the use of decades-old equipment, would it be more beneficial to build new steam locomotives from scratch? The Steam into History group in PA seem to be doing well with a brand new locomotive, so clearly the public isn't overly concerned with the age of the equipment involved. And I imagine the cost of building a new locomotive would be lower if the locomotive were a copy of SOU 4501 (for example) rather than a PRR T1.

Note: I'm not trying to drag down the T1 group. I hope they complete the project. I'm looking at this purely from a logistics standpoint.

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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:06 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 104
Suitable passenger cars have long been an issue. There are a number of potential steam and diesel locomotives, but few have enough cars to run a trip. A second part is getting the cars moved to where they are needed as many railroads make it difficult to move cars and many owners will not allow them to be moved in freight service.

For example, in 2012, we spent $1/4 million in renting cars for 500-600 passengers, moving them to Iowa, using them for a week, and then returning them home for the NRHS convention. The cars were all Amtraked so we could move them in Amtrak service and by charter Amtrak service - actually cheaper than moving them individually in freight service.

Since many of these cars come from volunteer groups, arranging for mechanical staff can be a big challenge also. Most owners want their own people, or someone they are happy with, to handle the cars. This adds hotel and travel expenses.

Getting sets that work together can also be a challenge. Some areas basically require high seat counts in premium seating while other areas want coach. This has been a challenge for those operating the NS trips as some trips see coach sell first while others see the domes and lounge seats sell first. Different markets require a different mix of equipment. Additionally, many photographers complain because of the mixed paint schemes, but there is no real set around that is in matched paint. Even if a decision is made for a common paint, what would work on the east coast would look strange on the west coast.

Many years ago, RPCA was formed out of yearly meetings to see what cars were available for Southern steam trips. RPCA is still involved with car maintenance and rebuilding, and many members coordinate car usage for trips. But a key is several sets of good equipment so that deadhead costs can be reduced - and enough revenue use to justify their restoration and maintenance.


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:31 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:43 am
Posts: 413
Location: Floyd, AR
Mark Z. Yerkes wrote:
Hypothetically question: Assuming that a lot of the insurance issues come from the use of decades-old equipment, would it be more beneficial to build new steam locomotives from scratch? The Steam into History group in PA seem to be doing well with a brand new locomotive, so clearly the public isn't overly concerned with the age of the equipment involved. And I imagine the cost of building a new locomotive would be lower if the locomotive were a copy of SOU 4501 (for example) rather than a PRR T1.


others may want to add something, but I suspect the liability is derived mostly from the trainload of people that 'might' get hurt and the presence of a large pressure vessel (boiler), not the age. Best I can tell most RR's are perfectly happy to shuttle around empty passenger cars that meet interchange for 'competitive' rates, regardless of age.

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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 12:15 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3012
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Bartman-TN wrote:
Suitable passenger cars have long been an issue. There are a number of potential steam and diesel locomotives, but few have enough cars to run a trip. A second part is getting the cars moved to where they are needed as many railroads make it difficult to move cars and many owners will not allow them to be moved in freight service.

For example, in 2012, we spent $1/4 million in renting cars for 500-600 passengers, moving them to Iowa, using them for a week, and then returning them home for the NRHS convention. The cars were all Amtraked so we could move them in Amtrak service and by charter Amtrak service - actually cheaper than moving them individually in freight service.

Since many of these cars come from volunteer groups, arranging for mechanical staff can be a big challenge also. Most owners want their own people, or someone they are happy with, to handle the cars. This adds hotel and travel expenses.

Getting sets that work together can also be a challenge. Some areas basically require high seat counts in premium seating while other areas want coach. This has been a challenge for those operating the NS trips as some trips see coach sell first while others see the domes and lounge seats sell first. Different markets require a different mix of equipment. Additionally, many photographers complain because of the mixed paint schemes, but there is no real set around that is in matched paint. Even if a decision is made for a common paint, what would work on the east coast would look strange on the west coast.

Many years ago, RPCA was formed out of yearly meetings to see what cars were available for Southern steam trips. RPCA is still involved with car maintenance and rebuilding, and many members coordinate car usage for trips. But a key is several sets of good equipment so that deadhead costs can be reduced - and enough revenue use to justify their restoration and maintenance.


These comments remind me of my initial posting in the "End of Canadian National's Steam Program" thread. This is exactly why I suggested the idea of what I called the "Class I Tourist Railroad."

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=31783

Of course, I suggested this would be something like a main line version of Strasburg Rail Road, which basically meant running on the same route to the same destinations.

Another poster, Dave, had a somewhat different opinion earlier in the present thread:

Dave wrote:
I barely got seats on the Bowral Tulip steam excursion in Australia when I visited several years ago. The train was crowded, it ran a fairly long trip to the destination - tulip farms in full bloom - and then back again in the evening. So, a destination can be an integral part of the entire product you are selling. In fact, if you provide a pleasant and fun experience with a destination at the middle of the day, the motive power is minimally important - but why not use steam to make it just that much more special?

What I'd ideally like to see is a small but select set of locomotives and a good stock of cars that are comfortable and clean - and have them serve events and destinations rather than stay in one place. The locomotive choice is of course dependent on the characteristics of the railroad, so something with a long rigid wheelbase doesn't run on the curvy branch line and the 110 MPH streamliner doesn't handle the 25 MPH train on low speed trackage.

I think destination day trips are an easier sell to a larger market than steam power to nowhere special and back, and variety of locations is better than the same track over and over again...........


Which approach might work better? Would different approaches be more appropriate in different locations? Would a hybrid work--i.e., would it be more worthwhile to look at an operating and marketing location that might have multiple routes, destinations, and events available? Would concentrating on such a location and approach unnecessarily limit or prohibit other locations or routes that might be suitable even if it is the "same track over and over again?"

The "same track over and over again" doesn't seem to hurt the Durango & Silverton or the Cumbres & Toltec.


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 12:47 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 703
IMPO, the liability issue has little or nothing to do with steam locomotives. Even diesel excursions are strapped with huge liability insurance costs.

The train is full of people. They have to get on safely and get off safely and have a safe ride. All 3 of these things have potential perils.

Insurance companies are not stupid. This is tiny sliver of a market that has the distinct possibility of resulting in very expensive claims and litigation. There HAVE been injuries and there HAVE been fatalities over the decades. The insurers are well aware that dumping a bunch of civilians in the middle of what is essentially an industrial environment is a huge risk.

They see the photos of people hanging off the rear platform not holding onto anything. They see the people hanging out of the vestibules and over the baggage car door bars.
There are published photos of people climbing to and riding on the top of the tender on fast-moving excursion trains. There was a photo of a fan trip on the cover of Trains magazine back in the '50s with 2 or 3 camera -bearing fools riding on the rear footboards of the tender!

Yeah, it's only a few people. How many does it take to file a multi-zillion dollar lawsuit that will have to be defended?

You can have paramedics and even doctors on board, but you will still have some overzealous nut who forgets to bring or to take his medications.

The risks are huge. And when the news is dominated by fiery collisions and multi-fatality grade crossing accidents (even though no excursion trains were involved) or occupied passenger cars scattered in the trees, insurance people see that and take note of it.

It might not be fair, but who said it had to be?


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:01 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3012
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Had to put this up. . .just couldn't resist.

http://assets.amuniversal.com/dcf875900 ... 5056a9545d


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 2:30 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3012
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Lincoln Penn wrote:
IMPO, the liability issue has little or nothing to do with steam locomotives. Even diesel excursions are strapped with huge liability insurance costs.

The train is full of people. They have to get on safely and get off safely and have a safe ride. All 3 of these things have potential perils.

Insurance companies are not stupid. This is tiny sliver of a market that has the distinct possibility of resulting in very expensive claims and litigation. There HAVE been injuries and there HAVE been fatalities over the decades. The insurers are well aware that dumping a bunch of civilians in the middle of what is essentially an industrial environment is a huge risk.

They see the photos of people hanging off the rear platform not holding onto anything. They see the people hanging out of the vestibules and over the baggage car door bars.
There are published photos of people climbing to and riding on the top of the tender on fast-moving excursion trains. There was a photo of a fan trip on the cover of Trains magazine back in the '50s with 2 or 3 camera -bearing fools riding on the rear footboards of the tender!

Yeah, it's only a few people. How many does it take to file a multi-zillion dollar lawsuit that will have to be defended?

You can have paramedics and even doctors on board, but you will still have some overzealous nut who forgets to bring or to take his medications.

The risks are huge. And when the news is dominated by fiery collisions and multi-fatality grade crossing accidents (even though no excursion trains were involved) or occupied passenger cars scattered in the trees, insurance people see that and take note of it.

It might not be fair, but who said it had to be?


Are you sure the insurance people aren't stupid? If you want to see a real killing machine, take a look at what's in your driveway.

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/arc ... fe/476346/

Why hasn't the insurance industry worked to kill the auto business? Looks like an expensive and high risk model to me.

In spite of that, are the insurance people even really the problem?

Two observations to consider:

1. Various heritage railroads, including the relatively large scale operations of D&S and C&T, apparently don't have the insurance problem, or at least don't have it on the scale we see with the mainline people. They've been running for years, and I've never heard any real problems they've had, or for that matter the Strasburg, with insurance. And keep in mind, some heritage railroads are among the most challenging to operate and can be considered a HUGE safety risk--consider the potential 400-foot drop on the D&S's High Line, the 4% grades and the curvature on the C&T, and the incredible AVERAGE grade of 5% (with segments up to 11%) on the Cass Scenic, which some source claim is the steepest adhesion railroad in the Americas and the second steepest in the world! You would think those roads and others would have SEVERE insurance problems. . .and it might be fairly expensive. . .but it seems their main problems are the ones most railroads face, which is just making money. Insurance does not seem to be their main problem.

2. It has been my observation that the real "insurance problems" come from the main line carriers, who have what I consider a misplaced sense of risk. This industry seems to be willing to swallow a camel but choke on a gnat. Consider that this industry managed to incinerate much of a town and 47 people with an oil train derailment, that it has had several other spectacular oil train incidents in the last few years that have given it a huge black eye in certain circles--but it has not protested this demonstrably hazardous material haulage, much less embargoed it. Yes, I know this falls under their common carrier requirements. . .but that didn't stop the industry from getting the passenger portion of common carrier requirements waived.

At the very least, one would expect a protest at having to handle such dangerous stuff, especially considering that the original oil disaster involved a shipment that was not properly placarded, and with that particular disaster having bankrupted the carrier involved.

I see a double standard here. . .and it's not new. I remember how CSX, long before the oil train problems, raised its insurance requirements to the stratosphere as Jack Showalter was beginning to show how this could be done in Virginia. I am aware of the absolute embargo on steam and the strong disinclination to handle special passenger moves that are, as far as I can tell, unique to CSX. This isn't to say there aren't problems elsewhere, but that CSX is an extreme case.

At least as I see it, it seems the main line managers are in the position of people who are afraid of being struck by lightning, but who may fail to watch out for automobile traffic as they cross the street. Both things can happen and do, but one has a much higher probability than the other--and incidents for both can be cut down considerably without locking yourself in your house (which can have its own hazards!)

Is insurance really the problem--or is it current main line railroad management?


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 3:31 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 909
Hi,

As for a possibilty, the Western and Atlantic of Civil War fame is still owned by the State of Georgia. When the lease of the line expired (1970s or 1980s), Southern bid against Family Lines for the rights to operate the W&A. Family Lines won but Southern was in a win-win position. IF they won the W&A, they would have had a monopoly on the Chattanooga-Atlanta lines (Southern, ex-CofG, and W&A) or drive up the cost of Family Lines usage.

The RoW is still owned by the State of Georgia. Depending on the lease agreement, the State of Georgia might be able to double track the W&A and let CSX (ex-Family Lines) use it when not used by the State's desires.

The second track could be used for commuter rail during the week and by steam excursions on weekends. Possible but maybe improbable. This is the area to look for positive movement for mainline steam excursions.

Elsewhere the ex-AT&SF Raton Pass line being purchased by NM/CO/KS was a missed opportunity.

As I recall, there is a section of now Amtrak owned line in Michigan (?) that is set up for 70+ MPH. Maybe a place for discussions.

How about thinking about the abandoned lines in New England? For instance, the ex-PRR Trenton Cut-off/A&S/Low Grade freight line to Enola? I think the State of Pennsylvania can not afford to do anything. However, if a group of private individuals can build a Tornado or a T1, why not see about getting one of these lines.

If the excursion was on an Amtrak owned line and involved Amtrak, maybe their insurance would cover the operation.

Just some possible ideas. I'm sure there are others.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:02 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
J3a-614 wrote:
Which approach might work better? Would different approaches be more appropriate in different locations? Would a hybrid work--i.e., would it be more worthwhile to look at an operating and marketing location that might have multiple routes, destinations, and events available? Would concentrating on such a location and approach unnecessarily limit or prohibit other locations or routes that might be suitable even if it is the "same track over and over again?"The "same track over and over again" doesn't seem to hurt the Durango & Silverton or the Cumbres & Toltec.


Thanks. We had a class 1 tourist railroad and probably still do in Scranton. How is it doing?

More to the point, D&SNGRR and CATS are their own destinations, much like the Grand Canyon and the Cog. Well, D&S more than CATS which is an economic development project that just happens to use a historic railroad since there's little else there on which to make cash flow happen except sheep ranching. If you have destination scenery outside the train windows you don't have to worry about the rest.

Back in the early days at Spencer NCTHC ran an excursion - diesel on NS - from Salisbury to Raleigh and return for the State Fair, which is on grounds adjacent to a small yard. I'm an urbanite and have never grokked the attraction in growing the biggest pumpkin or tobacco leaf,and can't see how one of two cows or hogs might be superior to another without eating some of each first, but I was surprised to see we did fill the train pretty well. Good times were had by all, and it wasn't repeated since one of the officers decided to have the train switched from one yard track to another and the additional switching charges reduced the revenue to break even. It does demonstrate that the special excursion to a special event model can work.

Moving the origination point to Charlotte from Salisbury would have made for a bigger train and more riders. Any of the 2-8-0s or 4501 could have handled the train easily, and we probably could have charged more, but we'd have had to pay more also. The addition of steam power makes the journey as interesting as the destination from a sales perspective to a lot of the potential market.

So, I'm wondering if by successfully promoting for these kind of smaller event / destination excursions with diesels or AMTRAK power and sponsorship, or even state DOT on state owned trackage, we could build the level of perception among the railroad management that such things aren't difficult, disruptive and costly and make them amenable to the introduction of proven and reliable steam power down the line?

Start with the least scary alternative in an arena in which it's easier to win. Add in less familiar options once you have a proven winner.

Back to Steamtown's demonstration line - did the shift from steam to diesel have any effect on ridership?

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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:56 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 909
Hi,

Quote:
D&SNGRR and CATS are their own destinations


The D&S has a nearby non-rail draw - Mesa Verde and the cliff dwellings. Not too far are the related Aztec Ruins (National Park).

As for the D&S, its destination is Silverton and as I heard said, passengers ride to get to Silveton and then have two hours in the historic mining camp before returning.

The C&TS does not have any nearby draws. The destination for the C&TS is Osier CO - a site for lunch but nothing of interest otherwise.

Comparing Chama NM or Antonito CO (C&TS) to the much larger Durango CO is a tough sell.

Doug vV


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
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"The Raton line purchase was cancelled by the Tea Party governor."

In this country, expenditures are controlled by the legislative and executive branch and states often have balanced budget laws and various fiscal pressures on the public treasury

Perhaps you should brush up on the American system of public finance before commenting from Denmark.


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:43 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:58 am
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superheater wrote:
"The Raton line purchase was cancelled by the Tea Party governor."

In this country, expenditures are controlled by the legislative and executive branch and states often have balanced budget laws and various fiscal pressures on the public treasury

Perhaps you should brush up on the American system of public finance before commenting from Denmark.



It looks like the Governor would have the power for a line item veto of the purchase:


Forty-four states—all except Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont—give their governors some form of line-item veto power.[1] The Mayor of Washington, D.C. also has this power.[2][3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line-item ... ted_States


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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:43 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 1864
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
New Mexico says it’s backing out of 2008 Raton purchase
TRAINS Newswire, April 29, 2011

Quote:
SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s governor claims BNSF Railway never closed on the sale of its Raton Pass line, and she said the state no longer wants it, the Albuquerque Journal has reported. Republican Susana Martinez is also insisting BNSF pay back $2.35 million the state paid, half the “earnest money” tendered in the 2008 deal.


This is not an "American thing". We have similar problems with long term projects here. People get motivated, they make plans, and they go home thinking it is done. Then when no one is looking, new bosses show up and decide to pull the plug. We in Denmark had plans to electrify the lines to Jutland back in the 1990's, then it was canceled when oil prices dropped ("let's just keep driving diesels"). Now we have a new rail investment project again to electrify, and raise speeds to 200+ km-hour, and once again oil prices have dropped, and the project is at risk.

What seems like a "saving" is not a saving, because the opportunity and the effort involved in making the agreements (and frequently engineering work) also have a value that is lost. Had we electrified back in the 1990's, there would have been enormous accumulated savings over the intervening 20 years, as oil increased and we gained access to wind power, and the trains would have been faster even on the existing track alignment.

In the case of the Raton line, New Mexico still has to pay to maintain the line, but now they do not own it and do not control it. Somehow the Governor did not care, or thought they could walk away and still get use of the line for free.

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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
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 Post subject: Re: Future of Main Line Steam and Excursions
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:07 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
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That's interesting, but it does not buttress your initial assertion or contradict my complaint.

Your initial post was not only a flaming, gratuitous swipe, it was errant. Martinez is not a "Tea Party" Governor.

I cannot comment on Danish issues, first because I have no knowledge of them, and second and most importantly because it is none of my business.


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