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 Post subject: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 1:34 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:30 pm
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So Steamtown trains go to Moscow, PA, and occasionally from there to the Delaware Water Gap. Which (correct me if I'm wrong) is the current end of active track on the Lackawanna Cutoff.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Transit is restoring the cutoff. Eventually Scranton, PA, will see NJT service.

What are the chances Steamtown one day could send a steam-powered trip all the way to Port Morris and back?

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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:00 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 7:10 am
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<nitpicking>Technically, Steamtown has never used any of the New Jersey Cut Off, they use the DL&W mainline when they go to the Delaware Water Gap. Slateford Jct. (where the D-L and NS now interchange) marked the western end of the Cut Off. The tracks in place east amd west of Slateford Jct are the "Old Main."</nitpicking>

Of course, before someone nitpicks me back, Steamtown trips have frequented the Clark's Summit-Hallstead Pennsylvania Cut Off which was another one of DL&W President Truesdale's mileage-saving, grade-reducing, concrete-devouring projects.

It might not be too far off base to consider, if the NJ Cut Off is ever restored, to call it the Truesdale Cut Off in honor of his vision and perserverance. But then again, I still think the PRR tunnels under the North River should be called the Samuel Rea Tunnels... but that would never stick... heck, some people insist on calling the river above the tunnels "Hudson." They'd never get the Rea part. ;-)

Anyway, back to your question... anything could happen. There is a lot of crow ready to be served to wags who insisted steam would never grace Horseshoe Curve again, nor that NS would embrace steam again, nor that #765 would ever venture east again. If those parties are ready, I will happily make the crow grilled, blackened or (east of) Buffalo style.

El Gato Grande


Rob

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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:26 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:47 pm
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What you have to take into consideration is that, if and when the Cutoff is restored, it's not being restored for 1 or 2 freight consists a day, like the current DL usage on the Pocono Main. The plans call for 18 passenger consists a day, 9 east and 9 west. For Steamtown to send a train from Scranton to Port Morris or even (commence foaming) to Hoboken, I imagine special plans would have to be made to fit the trip into the schedule or (foam increases) have one of the 18 passenger consists steam powered. Steamtown has the equipment to do high speed steam runs and I'm sure there would be plenty other people/groups that would jump at the opportunity to have their engines do runs on the Cutoff. I personally am a fan of the idea of extending the Cutoff trackage all the way to Scranton, leaving the existing trackage for the DL and Steamtown, but that's just me.

'Scuse me, gotta go clean all this foam up.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:28 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:30 pm
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No problem re: nitpicks. I don't know the DL&W main line out of Scranton as well as I do, say, the Milwaukee Road I & M division south of Mendota Heights, MN! :-)

Another random thought related to the Cutoff restoration and Scranton NJT service: will regular passenger service have an impact at all on Steamtown's trains operations-wise (i.e. get in the way) or will the two not be running on the same line?

Going back to the original topic: wouldn't weekends be a good time for special steam trains since commuter services as a general rule run lighter schedules then than on weekdays (i.e. prime commuter time)?

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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:53 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 7:10 am
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railfan261 wrote:
No problem re: nitpicks. I don't know the DL&W main line out of Scranton as well as I do, say, the Milwaukee Road I & M division south of Mendota Heights, MN! :-)


With the likelihood of my job having me in MN a bit this year, maybe we can trade regional knowledge. My first flight into the Twin Cities revealed a lot of railroads (active and abandoned) to explore.

And yes, I have that particular part of the sickness where I love to spot and follow abandoned rail lines from the air. It's pretty cool to know *exactly* where you are by the terrain and ROWs! Or maybe it is pretty geeky, and I just want to believe it is cool.

Rob

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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 2:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
railfan261 wrote:
Going back to the original topic: wouldn't weekends be a good time for special steam trains since commuter services as a general rule run lighter schedules then than on weekdays (i.e. prime commuter time)?


First, the cynic in me insists: "NJ Transit Service to Scranton: believe it when you see it."

Second, point of order: A lot of commuter agencies don't even run passenger trains on weekends. Examples: MARC, VRE. The ones that do typically completely own and/or dispatch their trackage or share it with another passenger agency (e.g. SEPTA, NJ Transit). I strongly suspect that expecting NJ Transit to extend weekend service deep into another state, on quite rural and underpopulated trackage they don't own, without any covering subsidy from the Commonwealth involved, is incredibly optimistic at best and potentially delusional at worst.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 3:04 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:47 pm
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Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
railfan261 wrote:
Going back to the original topic: wouldn't weekends be a good time for special steam trains since commuter services as a general rule run lighter schedules then than on weekdays (i.e. prime commuter time)?


First, the cynic in me insists: "NJ Transit Service to Scranton: believe it when you see it."

Second, point of order: A lot of commuter agencies don't even run passenger trains on weekends. Examples: MARC, VRE. The ones that do typically completely own and/or dispatch their trackage or share it with another passenger agency (e.g. SEPTA, NJ Transit). I strongly suspect that expecting NJ Transit to extend weekend service deep into another state, on quite rural and underpopulated trackage they don't own, without any covering subsidy from the Commonwealth involved, is incredibly optimistic at best and potentially delusional at worst.



This is where Steamtown comes in, running weekend trips into New York from Scranton.

Damn it, more foam...

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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 8:09 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:01 pm
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Ross Rowland has run his steam engine in passenger service on New Jersey Transit before, and I don't think that was just foam.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 9:22 pm 

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Future headline, New York Post or New York Daily News: Steam Trains Headed for Manhattan!! Hoboken Invaded by Smoking Monsters!! See Page 3!

(Sorry, I couldn't resist that!)

Seriously, some points to ponder:

First, the reconnection of the line between Hoboken and Scranton is years in the future, or at least seems to be. On that account alone, we will have a long wait at best.

Second, once the connection comes about (which I hope happens, I'm of the opinion it's needed), there is the question of getting a bureaucratic Park Service to line things up with a bureaucratic New Jersey Transit. This is not impossible, but it does require having the right people in place at the right time to promote it and come to an agreement for it. This includes some people at a fairly high level who will have confidence in the people below them, or it will be people in those same positions who will oversee those below to make things happen. In my opinion, this is the most important factor.

Those people in those positions will of necessity have to NOT include anybody--anybody!--who thinks this sort of operation is inherently more dangerous than a normal train and will require safety precautions on the order of a POTUS special, or who thinks they will have their tracks beat up by the single passage of a steam locomotive, who worries that the train is an overly attractive terrorist target and requires that POTUS security, or who thinks someone will complain or even sue about the smoke, or. . .you get the picture.

Third, and the second most important factor except for the people, where is the money to operate these trains to come from? For a variety of reasons, some real, some less so, nobody wants to stick their necks out to pay for something like this. Just look at Steamtown's early Scranton history, at the "pork barrel" charges levied against it, at the accusations of administrative failure, the accusations of political log-rolling by the original sponsor, and other things, some justified, some not, but all standing as obstacles to even taking baby steps to run anything like what is proposed above.

I again emphasize, this is not impossible, but it requires a bunch of planets to line up, along with a couple of constellations of stars, various moons, the sun, and asteroids, too. Having said that, the proposal still could make a great deal of sense, in the form of that weekend service NJT doesn't run (yet), in the form of at least one pair of commuter trains that run with steam, or even a weekend "reverse commute" service from New York to Scranton. That last one is conceptually what was run by Ross Rowland and the NJT, and brings up another interesting challenge--having some sort of steam servicing capability at Hoboken, at least some sort of minimal facility for coal, water, and lubrication.

There may also be other things to look at, as noted in this paragraph from a wire story in 1992:

". . .other constraints in the Vento legislation [referring to Bruce Vento, D-Minn., then Parks Committee chairman] will be more of a problem for the park's operations than the funding level.

"Among other things, the bill forbids spending any money to repair track or bridges outside the park, limits the number of working steam engines to three, and kills plans for a pedestrian bridge to a new mall that is to spread across a large plot of land in downtown Scranton."

That article may be dated (there is now a pedestrian bridge, although I don't know who paid for it), but as far as I know, the limit of three operational locomotives may still be in effect, and if it's desired to run this service, it's very likely larger and more modern power, such as a 4-8-4, possibly with roller bearings, will be needed. Such a locomotive likely wouldn't be desirable for the existing trains due to being too big, and at the same time, back-up or reserve service and other things require the present three engines remain operational.

It's a great idea, but there are obstacles galore. Most of them are human, too, as opposed to technical. Can they be overcome in a human lifespan?

Complete story below for reference:

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-02-09/ ... rk-service


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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 10:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
You left out one critical step.

When talking to NJ Transit, a certain Lima-built 4-8-4 and/or its owner must NEVER be mentioned. EVER.

I could be wrong. In fact, I'd love to be wrong. But I doubt it.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 11:28 pm 

Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 7:57 pm
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Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
You left out one critical step.

When talking to NJ Transit, a certain Lima-built 4-8-4 and/or its owner must NEVER be mentioned. EVER.

I could be wrong. In fact, I'd love to be wrong. But I doubt it.


That was one thing I was going to touch on. Yup, the 614's jaunts on NJT were quite the show-I don't remember them (too young) but I've seen spectacular clips. However, I've said to many people that a railroad's past practices, deals or experiences can NOT be taken as precedent for future operations. Time changes things, people, feelings, and opinions. Not a final nail in the proverbial coffin, just something that must be acknowledged as a potential hurdle/obstacle.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 12:13 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 1:35 pm
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Location: Pacific Northwest
I'm waiting for ADM4 to release his rewrite of the classic The Power of Positive Thinking.

I hope to meet him someday and give him a big hug and a case of something that might lift his spirits.


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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 12:34 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:47 pm
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CanPac2317 wrote:
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
You left out one critical step.

When talking to NJ Transit, a certain Lima-built 4-8-4 and/or its owner must NEVER be mentioned. EVER.

I could be wrong. In fact, I'd love to be wrong. But I doubt it.


That was one thing I was going to touch on. Yup, the 614's jaunts on NJT were quite the show-I don't remember them (too young) but I've seen spectacular clips. However, I've said to many people that a railroad's past practices, deals or experiences can NOT be taken as precedent for future operations. Time changes things, people, feelings, and opinions. Not a final nail in the proverbial coffin, just something that must be acknowledged as a potential hurdle/obstacle.


The current NS Steam Program and Heritage Fleet are evidence of that.

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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 11:58 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 4:19 pm
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We have recently participated in discussions involving the tourism development folks from NY State, representatives of Port Jervis and NJTransit to discuss the possibilities of repeating the highly successful 1996-98 614 Hoboken-Pt.Jervis program.

One of the many issues that needs to be resolved before such a project can be launched is to be able to provide era appropriate coaches ( including some with open windows for the die hard foamers) that are mechanicly up to NJT standards, and to fund a robust marketing campaign to ensure good patronage.

I'd say there's a modest chance that this could happen but there are a good number of issues that will need to be addressed first.

As to steam on the cut-off there's no operational reason it can't work and it would make an ideal all day excursion including a visit to Steamtown while the trains being turned/serviced in Scranton. The one real issue here is how many more years ( decades?) will it take to relay the railroad?? Many thought this would have been back in service by the year 2000 at the latest and here we are 12 years later and endless money wasting " studies" on the shelf and no track.

I'd guess if you're under 20 years old you might live long enough to see it???

IMHO-Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Steam On The Lackawanna Cutoff When It Is Restored?
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 12:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
co614 wrote:
We have recently participated in discussions involving the tourism development folks from NY State, representatives of Port Jervis and NJTransit to discuss the possibilities of repeating the highly successful 1996-98 614 Hoboken-Pt.Jervis program.

One of the many issues that needs to be resolved before such a project can be launched is to be able to provide era appropriate coaches ( including some with open windows for the die hard foamers) that are mechanicly up to NJT standards, and to fund a robust marketing campaign to ensure good patronage.

I'd say there's a modest chance that this could happen but there are a good number of issues that will need to be addressed first.


I'll be happy to eat a lot of crow, but there are a whole bunch of folks in a better position to know that would have to get in line ahead of me.........


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