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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 7:16 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 474
I continue to believe that a properly marketed steam experience with the Harriman Cars, no diesel, etc. could be an additional draw for Grand Canyon Railway. Kind of like White Pass & Yukon. White Pass & Yukon draws a huge number of passengers who are wanting a scenic train ride in Alaska. Likewise, Grand Canyon Railway attracts a large number of passengers wanting an easy and unique way to reach the Grand Canyon. Those passengers in both cases are not looking for, or expecting steam.

But White Pass & Yukon runs steam 3 days a week in season and charges a premium for the experience.

What if Grand Canyon ran steam with the Harriman cars weekly and charged a premium? I know Eric has shared that when they add steam, they only see a small amount of extra riders, but to be fair, I wouldn't go out of my way to ride in an air conditioned car behind steam and diesel either. (oops... I guess I just did that for the Big Boy... but at least they had open vestibules! ha).

I know that's not in the plans for Grand Canyon, and last I heard the Harriman cars, as they exist, will be a thing of the past soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:24 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 932
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Primary purpose of the GCR is a people mover. I wouldn't be surprised to see the proposal to connect Tusayan to the Grand Canyon with DMUs revived in the future. While auto access to the park isn't going away anytime soon, it is slowly being cutback by the park service.

As previously mentioned, the big threat to the park is the continued degrading of the condition of the main water supply pipeline. So far in 2019, the pipeline has suffered six breaks. It is slated for replacement at a cost of at least $124 million.

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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:05 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
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Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Anyone have a clue exactly where they plan to place 539 within the town? It'd be nice if you'd be able to see it from I-5...
Alan Walker wrote:
Primary purpose of the GCR is a people mover.

True. My wife and I rode it the final year of daily steam (though we didn't know that at the time) and rode behind 29 each way for an overnight stay at the El Tovar hotel in a corner suite overlooking the depot (she was disappointed it wasn't toward the ditch; I wasn't) and it really felt like how it might have been to hop on steam back in the day of normal steam operations. In spite of all the other tourist RRs I've ridden before and since (including both remnants of the D&RGW 3-footer), the GCR was the only operation I ever got that feeling from.

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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:15 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 474
Eh... it’s not a peoplemover in my opinion. They are definitely selling an experience. Just not a steam experience. But it’s still a romanticized, vintage Railroad experience they are selling.

I wish I could have visited Grand Canyon Railway back in that time frame. But I’m lucky to have ridden behind #3751 to the canyon and participated in the amazing Pete Lerro charter... so no big complaint. I’d like to go for the trains event, but I feel like I’ve been spoiled with Pete’s charters! Ha.


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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:42 am 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 932
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Eh... it’s not a peoplemover in my opinion. They are definitely selling an experience. Just not a steam experience. But it’s still a romanticized, vintage Railroad experience they are selling.

I wish I could have visited Grand Canyon Railway back in that time frame. But I’m lucky to have ridden behind #3751 to the canyon and participated in the amazing Pete Lerro charter... so no big complaint. I’d like to go for the trains event, but I feel like I’ve been spoiled with Pete’s charters! Ha.


Attitude that GCR and the NPS have is that it will eventually become the main manner of entry into the southern part of the park. The goal is to eventually restrict motor vehicle access to service vehicles only within most limits of the park. That intention is partly for environmental reasons and largely due to economic reasons-mostly related to upkeep of automobile related facilities.

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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:57 pm 
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Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Alan Walker wrote:
Attitude that GCR and the NPS have is that it will eventually become the main manner of entry into the southern part of the park.
Works for me. The train really is the best way to get there anyway!

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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:35 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 474
Grand Canyon Railway moves 160,000 per year, Grand Canyon sees 5+ million per year. No way the railway, as it exists, will become the “main manner” of entry into the park.

Now anything is possible, but there would be significant changes needed.


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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:04 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
It is entirely possible that Xanterra might find it profitable to upgrade the line to permit greater operational flexibility. Something like that would fit in nicely with the plans that the NPS has for the park and would permit them to reduce the footprint of existing auto facilities. Another possibility would be improvements to the Tusayan airport to permit it to accommodate larger passenger aircraft.

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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9262
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
It is my understanding that there have been two firm, concerted efforts made over the years to introduce some form of railroad "parking shuttle" operation to the South Rim, beyond the current bus shuttle.

One would have used conventional trains (possibly RDCs or similar trains) shuttling from a "park-and-ride lot" at Tusayan (which, for the uninitiated, is that pocket of commercialization, motels, restaurants, etc. just south of the NPS boundary, about eight miles from the GCRY's South Rim Station) to a newly-built station on the wye. This plan went as far as the wye's station being constructed, but never used by the railway--it's now used by the NPS as the "Backcountry Office" where one gets permits for camping, etc.

The other, from the late 1990s, was a more grandiose proposal to construct a new Light Rail service using the GCRY and new trackage to similarly service the South Rim. I believe this proposal originated outside the GCRY, and as far as I know has never advanced beyond the investigative-study and environmental-impact-study stage. I think it's honest and objective to say that this idea was driven as much by political "posturing" than any serious marketing or transportation analysis. I won't get into the contentious issues of traffic congestion and auto traffic at the South Rim, but I see the issue as "coming to a head" someday via such things as congestion pricing, discounts to shuttle riders, etc.

(An example of the political blather wrapped around the Light Rail plan: https://www.metro-magazine.com/rail/art ... and-canyon )

Any such project, to be commercially viable, may require a lot more investment than a company like Xanterra would be willing to plow into it, absent Draconian restrictions on auto traffic and/or underwriting by the NPS. You're talking a couple miles of new track route to Tusayan or a new road to a new lot, possibly double-tracking, and--if Light Rail is pursued--new catenary, large-capacity LRVs, and more.

All of this, for better or worse, is driven by the ugly combination of the clash of politics versus free markets. The Grand Canyon is one of the "crown jewels" of the NPS and the Southwestern U.S. on an international scale. But we're talking a NPS and its political overseers that hasn't found the hundreds of millions needed to fix its main South Rim water supply, and which we still lambaste for an "inadequate" Steamtown. At the moment, increasing rail service to the South Rim falls into the "Nice idea, but...." category, no matter how badly some mat want to see it.


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 Post subject: Re: Grand Canyon's SP&S 539 To Return To Washington State
PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:04 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:21 pm
Posts: 105
p51,

I have been told that the 539 will be stored indoors at the Port of Kalama.

As far as expanding GCR to more of a true 'people mover', the one big hurdle is 49CFR Part 238, which is the regulation that Amtrak and Commuter RR's must live up to. Tourist and Historical RR's are exempt. Compliance with Part 238 requires 40 year truck rebuilds, stronger collision posts, trained inspectors, various restrictions on performing frame repairs, etc.... It would be a significant investment to cross that bridge.

Eric


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