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 Post subject: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:27 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:52 pm
Posts: 76
Recently here in the DFW area, work began on the new Texrail line which will operate from DFW airport to the Texas & Pacific station in downtown Fort Worth. A large portion of the line being used is also used for freight by the Fort Worth & Western railway, and as a route for the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. The GVRR operates using a number of rebuilt commuter cars and either a Diesel engine or ex SP 4-6-0 2248. They operate from downtown Grapevine a small "gingerbread" community near the airport to the old Fort Worth stockyards. My question is two fold. First, is anyone aware of how the GVRR might be accommodated on the new commuter line or the plans currently in the works to do so? And secondly, as the rail revitalization movement pushes forward, how might this affect other tourist lines out there? Is there currently a tourist operator that shares right of way with commuter trains? Or is this an opportunity to work as an industry to set a precedent of coexistence? My personal thought/belief is that an 1890s steam loco and 6 cars could most assuredly exist and operate on the same line as a commuter train.

Thanks in advance,

Mike S.

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:19 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 1883
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
This is our permanent reality in Denmark. It works because a) we have higher burden of proof in liability and a lower payout in decisions, b) we have been operating continuously since the end of in service steam, and c) because European regulations (Go EU!) mandate "open access" which means if we have certified equipment, we can demand a train path on the network.

In the USA, you/we have a higher concentration of liability and expense on the "at fault" party, so a modern train operator is paranoid that interaction with heritage equipment will be evidence of bad judgement and liability. So you have all kinds of questions about whether the equipment meets sufficient modern standards, and what qualifications the train crew must have (must they be employees of the host railroad?).

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:35 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 895
Steven beat me to it.

Most modern 'transit' systems were built with enormous amounts of public money, and maintained by government agencies. Completely aside from any 'private profit from public investment' concerns, operating officials can 'put their jobs first' and recognize that any heritage problem or operating delay that compromises ... or might even tend to compromise ... the convenient operation of the transit system is an avoidable risk.

A recent example of this came in discussions about moving the wooden car in West Chester. Even though the objective risk of having the car fail in some way (the stated 'worst case' being that it got hung up on a bridge where it couldn't be easily reached) is relatively small, it is still a completely avoidable risk if you just say no.

So, in addition to having the political support needed to obtain operating permission on an active commuter line, and demonstrating the competence both in keeping heritage equipment in good operating condition and in having prompt and effective remediation plans for most contingencies, it would be highly advisable to establish a good working personal relationship with the various operating personnel, and keep them reassured that they will not be left hanging, or accusable of negligence, if anything happens...

No, I don't think you have to 'rebuild heritage equipment to full modern standards'. But you will have to establish something that might be even more difficult: the assurance that the heritage equipment will not fail on the road in any way that modern-standard equipment wouldn't. At the very least, that probably requires a documented and extensive PM program going well beyond the usual stuff on a preservation railway.

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:14 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5249
Location: southeastern USA
In Wales, you can take the modern high speed train to a station, walk across the platform, and board the 2 foot gauge steam train of the Ffestiniog railway. This might be the least objectionable and easiest means of sharing the general alignment - two separate tracks with a common platform. Does McKinney Avenue TA run historic trolleys on the same track as light rail? If so, there may be a local precident you can piggyback.

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:56 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 895
Two tracks with a common alignment might not help all the concern, although it certainly does get rid of a large number of more immediate concerns.

The principal worry might be that even slight derailment of the heritage equipment might foul a fast-moving light rail vehicle of, probably, non-FRA-compliant construction. This might for example result in tearing the side of the car dramatically for even small apparent contact. There might also be concerns about contact with electrified light-rail power, including issues with grounding. Some of the same concerns that affect co-located 'rail with trail' within a tight overall ROW might easily concern heritage equipment where railfan photographers might be concerned. How would you safeguard people from leaning out of windows or Dutch doors, or keeping attentive during photo stops or runbys?

Even with track that is demonstrably 'separate' from the general system of transportation or the local transit provider's line, there may still be enough dangers to their operation to make them oppose operating permits and the like... or perhaps require a higher level of insurance, bonding, etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 2:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 1804
They do this in Cape Town, South Africa where the steam excursion trains of Atlantic Rail share tracks with the electrified commuter trains on the line to Simon's Town. BTW the experience in 2012 was much like the early days of the US Southern Railway program: open window coaches, open vestibules, etc. running at track speeds.

Wesley

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:49 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2069
many steam excursions ran with helper diesels just in case of a breakdown of a steamer. I would think how busy a commuter line is would say if there's room for excursioning, but CERA had many trips on the North Shore, South Shore, CA&E, CTA etc etc, well, usually chartering existing equipment..8-P

CERA had one time a special trip over CTA street trackage rarely seen by the public thru various yards. CTA had a fan friendly manager by the name of George Krambles.


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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 4:45 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:52 pm
Posts: 76
No, Mckinney Avenue Transit does not operate in conjuction with modern light rail equipment. Although there is a possibility of it in the future.

I'm more curious about how American tourist operations might face this issue. I think Grapevine is a wonderful example to pay attention too. We have a tourist train operated by a municipality that has a vested interest in its continued operations. Also, Grapevine has been a supporter of the Texrail project from the beginning, and there will be an intermediate stop in downtown Grapevine located next to the current depot. So I'm curious how they will set things up for the future. But I'm worried how this example may play out, and how it may affect future operations of the same kind. I think this is a good opportunity as a community for us to work with the Municipality and the operators to maintain both in operation. And it's something that maybe other operators should be thinking about as well? Anyway, just my opinion and I thought it was worth discussion.

Mike S.

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 1883
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I think you have answered your own question. The service already exists, and has stakeholders common to both operations. So it is just a matter of keeping it running. Very similar to what I described in Denmark.

There is an important lesson though. Don't let it stop running. Like the Delta Queen, once a historic service stops running, getting it approved and operating again is really hard.

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:16 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:57 pm
Posts: 162
Location: Eastampton, NJ
There might also be issues with the railroad operating unions. I don't have personal knowledge, but I've heard that the Cape May Seashore Lines would not be allowed to operate an excursion from an open NJT station (such as Hammonton) to Cape May. CMSL leases track from NJT, but I'm told that NJT's union contract forbids non-union personnel from operating a train from an active NJT station. They can only operate trains where there is no NJT service.

The fact that 614 operated on NJT argues that there is a way to do it.

-Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:34 pm
Posts: 158
It can be done as proven in the past. I do remember seeing footage of BR&W #60 here on Long Island in the 1960s and what a money maker that must've been for its time. The recurring problem again is resources and whether its some little short line or a class 1 doing the operation it cost a tremendous amount of money, equipment and most importantly labour. You'd think with the amount of antiquated equipment a place like Steamtown or the IRM has a separate entity could perhaps lease a couple of cars and an engine for day. Well it's sure not what it was back then and I doubt the MTA let alone any other transit agency would be so willing to take on the task of the insurance expenditures god forbid anyone file a lawsuit.


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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2004 11:44 pm
Posts: 17
Location: Fort Worth Texas
The Grapvine Vintage Railroad tourist train has coexisted with freight operations since the 1990s and crosses class one trackage. On the last tourist train trip I saw a military train , Amtrak, Union Pacific, and BNSF in Hodges Yard. The tourist train sat right in the middle of the yard with all the goings on. They usually run the diesel m-f and steam on Saturday. Ft Worth local James French


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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:14 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
What stands out in all of this discussion is that there are no real technical problems involved, or at least nothing that isn't solvable with even relatively little effort.

As some here who have been involved in such operations know, something as exotic as modern steam locomotives can easily hold their own in a contemporary environment. How many of us recall how Ross Rowland's C&O 4-8-4, on the coal train tests in the 1980s, rescued a diesel train that had its locomotives stall because the cold weather caused problems with the fuel systems? That took place during one of the coldest winters on record at the time, weather in which steam engines are at a disadvantage with everything that can freeze up on one.

The same engine and others have demonstrated enough speed and power to haul long trains at whatever speeds the track will allow.

No, your problems are not technical; they are institutional. You need friendly people to say yes, not people who give you a never-ending evil eye.

There are too many of the latter in the world.


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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:10 pm
Posts: 670
Location: Iron City
It ain't happening on any of the NYS-MTA properties. You can chalk it up to union rules-or to the 'l-word'...or to the fact that there would be no political cover for concerned parties should there be some sort of mishap.

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Commuter trains and tourist trains. Can they coexist?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 12:34 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
NH0401 wrote:
It ain't happening on any of the NYS-MTA properties. You can chalk it up to union rules-or to the 'l-word'...or to the fact that there would be no political cover for concerned parties should there be some sort of mishap.

Dave


This reminded me. . .we have what seem to be a bunch of very worried executives when it comes to passenger services of any kind, and excursions especially--but apparently nobody bats an eye at trains of crude oil of formerly unknown volatility that have been involved in some spectacular accidents, including one that destroyed the center of a town and incinerated 47 people.

The last train wreck that had a fatality list that exceeded that or even resembled it involved a train derailing on a bridge that had been bent out of alignment by a river tow.

It's being worried about the wrong stuff. . .which goes back to what I said about our obstructions not being technical, but institutional.


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