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 Post subject: Re: Travel Times - Pocono Main Track - Steamtown
PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 11:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:08 am
Posts: 234
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
Scranton Yard wrote:
polite disagreements are exiled to the Siberia of Railfanning if they include any discussion of the preservation-related management issues in Scranton.

apparently open and informative discussion is verboten unless it only includes glowing reviews. Preservation management is a relevant part of preservation, and it should not be relegated to the back pages.



The issue is this is not the Letter to the Editors section of a magazine.

If you want to criticize people by name- do it via Private Message.

I merged the two Steamtown topics and unlocked it. I would suggest people have some sort of solution instead of repeating the same old about how Steamtown has failed.


Mr. Lisowski - I read your post, your rant, and your edit of my post. Please reread my original post. I did not criticize anyone, I merely stated a fact that, according to the post by Superheater that I referenced, there is apparently overlap in the leadership of the 3713 program and the new possible "Friends of" group. I cited Superheaters' post and named the gentleman involved to save readers the time of flipping through posts to figure out what I was talking about. Several posters had mentioned this new group as a possible source of a change in Scranton. The intent was to point out that it is unlikely for any organization to change course or its operating culture if similar people are involved in the leadership. Not impossible, but improbable.

Since you eviscerated the intent of the edited paragraph, I have removed it entirely from my post.

As for posting solutions, several have been proposed. Many times though, as I discussed in my post, the free exchange of ideas is necessary to properly frame the issues before solutions can be suggested. Given the talented and experienced group posting here regularly, my hope is that we'll see some interesting ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:32 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1729
"The solution may be for the ELDCPS, the D-L, and other entities to simply avoid dealing with the park and run their own excursions off site."

On Saturday, we ran two excursions to Moscow. D-L locomotive, still wearing Lehigh Valley Colors, ELDCPS cars and an NS power car No 40, still wearing its EL Number near the roof, borrowed by the ELDCPS. The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley (Laurel Line) staffed the Moscow station with refreshments, and items for sale, all of which go for the 3713 restoration.

We shook hands with the ELDCPS guys at the end of the day. My PERSONAL OPINION is that is the future of Steamtown, partnerships. By necessity or design, the source code is being opened up.

The one thing that has never been cited as a long term success at Steamtown is that for three decades, volunteers have come in, given their time and worked along professionals from the D-L, R&N, Amtrak, CP and Norfolk Southern. I remain curious as to why that never is presented as a success along with the lamentations of failures.

6-18003, You may have been faithfully retelling what you believed was the impediment to having a running 425, but the omission of important details made it sound like the static display was the result of a turf war, rather than the best thing that could be done feasibly and economically.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:58 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 1601
Location: Pottstown,Pa.
Perhaps things have changed since then ( let's hope so ) but I can testify that the senior leadership of the Milw.261 organization shared with me that the difficulties of trying to function whilst at Scranton ( 1995-'96) were " endless" and that they'd "never,ever" consider returning.

I have never discussed this with my friends Andy Muller ( owner #425) or Rich Melvin ( NKP 765)but I will near term and will report back.

On paper it would seem to make a lot of sense to invite up and running mainline capable steam locomotives to come to S'town and thus provide the place with active steam and earn some income for their owner........the difficulty is being able/willing to live with the endless rules/regulations of a federal gov't. institution.

If they'll share their real life experiences with me I'll report back as to whether or not the 425 or 765 would be willing to come back again. I already have the 261's answer.

Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:14 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 394
Ross, your comments echo what I have heard as well. I doubt that the park could even lease a running steam engine from another party without a year's worth of paperwork.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 10:23 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 2:35 pm
Posts: 312
Location: NJ
One issue that puzzles me. The mainline track operated on by Steamtown is a GVT operation. Could an excursion by a visiting party be run without any involvement from the NPS itself?

Obviously the use of the NPS facility is a benefit to any trip, but is it a necessity?

One should also remember that the trolley group also shares or peels off visitors and operates smack dab in the middle of the Steamtown site. Has that operation been a benefit or detriment to the overall Steamtown operation?

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1729
"Ross, your comments echo what I have heard as well"

From whom, or is the who?


"One should also remember that the trolley group also shares or peels off visitors and operates smack dab in the middle of the Steamtown site. Has that operation been a benefit or detriment to the overall Steamtown operation?"

Shares. Economically, some things are complements and some things are substitutes.

Empirically:

Complements: Consumption is positively covaried between the array of goods or services in question.

Substitutes: Consumption is negatively covaried between the array of goods or services in question.

Now I'm unaware of any peer-reviewed economic studies on the covariance of rides on Steamtown trains with ECTMA trolley rides, but anecdotally based on the number of people that inquire about how they can ride both, my gut tells me that there is a strong positive covariance. Logically, the two modes of transportation were contemporaneous and it's a good thing for visitors to experience both. I pay for a ticket a couple times a year, just as I do on the R&N and Strasburg.

There are Steamtown volunteers and friends involved in the ECTMA and they see no conflict between the two. ECTMA is a great bunch of people and the restoration of Scranton Transit Car 505 is a fantastic project that everybody should support.


Last edited by Jeff Lisowski on Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Take personal issues to PM


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:54 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1729
"it is unlikely for any organization to change course or its operating culture if similar people are involved in the leadership. Not impossible, but improbable."

There's a relatively new Superintendent, an even newer Assistant, a new Chief of Maintenance.....

Next question?

"there is apparently overlap in the leadership of the 3713 program and the new possible "Friends of" group."

One person. A retired Class 1 Road Foreman. Willing people with credentials like that tend to be in demand.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:19 pm 

Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:30 pm
Posts: 602
Location: Bucks County, PA
superheater wrote:
Now in closing, I have identified a major problem with Steamtown that IS never discussed and is largely outside the control of any of the five people who have occupied the Superintendents office. In the interest of discussion, I invite you to guess. It's so obvious, so hidden in plain sight, that it was it took me 17 years to figure it out.

It's also a big part of why we started the Friends group.


I'll play along. Steamtown can't do paid advertisements. None of the National Parks can. If I remember correctly, it's a written rule. They can do things like submit articles to newspapers about events coming up, make posts on Facebook/Twitter, all free things - but no billboards, no radio ads, no tv ads, nothing that costs money. I believe that is one of the goals of the Friends group - to help raise funds in order to be able to advertise Steamtown and it's trips more effectively.

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:46 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:17 pm
Posts: 514
Location: Scranton, PA
cjvrr wrote:
One issue that puzzles me. The mainline track operated on by Steamtown is a GVT operation. Could an excursion by a visiting party be run without any involvement from the NPS itself?


Yes and no. DL can run an excursion on its lines whenever and wherever. However, Steamtown has insisted that each operating contract between the DL/NPS/Rail Authority has had a clause that specifically forbids the DL from operating STEAM excursions of our own. I found out about that little gem while we were in the embryonic stages of planning the 2010 NRHS convention in Scranton and spit-balling ideas one night.

As for the trolley, it does very well, particularly on weekends. I don't think either operation is a detriment to the other. The price is low enough for both the shuttle & trolley that most can afford to do both (even with a family in tow). The fact that they go in different directions is also a benefit.

I want to thank the moderators for smoothing out a few speed bumps yesterday and bringing back these threads.

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:11 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1729
That is (or was) definitely a problem outside the control of the Management, but not the one I was thinking of-and it's becoming less of a problem thanks to social media.

The problem I was thinking of is the problem of early expectations and current fiscal realities.

Early on, when the original Jurassic Park movie was still new in people's minds, Steamtown was likened to a Jurassic Park for trains, I think in Trains magazine. The grand opening, with 261, 425, 3254, 2317, 26 and the Shay (did I miss something) reinforced that notion that this would be a place where steam would be de-extincted.

Over the years, many things have changed, but those dreams of a small slice of the Lackawanna resurrected, with a roundhouse full of operable steam locomotives (over the late Rep. Bruce Vento's objections) never did die. Interestingly, neither does old animus, when I met a former Congressman last year, he described Steamtown as "Joe McDade's baby" even though he described me as having volunteered there since 1966.

But much has changed in the intervening years:

In the year 2000 federal government bureaucrats wrote "Life After Debt", a think piece where said fiscal bureaucrats imagined and feared a world where there was no federal debt.

http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2011/10 ... erDebt.pdf


Now fifteen years and many trillions in new debt later, that seems like a fairy tale. Even in this environment of suppressed interest rates, the CBO estimated earlier this year that the interest payments alone are expected to hit $227 billion this year, more than double to $480 billion by 2019 and more than triple to $722 billion by 2024. There are now considerations of scenarios where interest and entitlements consume such massive amounts, that there is almost no discretionary spending.

This CRS report, produced earlier this year that mandatory federal spending has increased from 30% of the budget in 1962 to just a shade under 70% now.

http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-pu ... P%20%20%0A

Over the years, the National Park's budget has been rising slightly in nomimal terms, but flat or slightly decreasing in real terms. The pressure to hold the line has been going on for years and I'll relate what I've seen. There was a time when there were six or seven DEDICATED paid staff in Train and Engine service.

Today, there's one, and in a few weeks, 0, and that person has been doing mechanical work as well-until and unless there's a replacement. So when there aren't enough volunteers, hands that would be turning wrenches have pulled throttles and written Form D's. Every time somebody gets pulled off a project to do something else, you have the set up costs of reorienting people to where and what you were doing before you left and that produces both efficiency and effectiveness losses. It's the reverse of the assembly line.

This is the reality folks, not the fantasy where Ross develops his still as of yet undisclosed super secret plan to bring in some version of Chain Saw Al Dunlap who'll run the place to the specifications of dreams where the only question is whether the excursion can be with a 759/2124 doubleheader, both of which are running, with their next 1472 prefunded.

That's why the future is partnerships-people focused on missions that complement the focus of Steamtown, and its got a running start with the activities of groups like the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society and the Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society, and the Reading Technical and Historical Society.

By the way, one of those people that was not replaced was Dave Crosby. As I recall, he was looking for what amounted to a reasonable accommodation but was denied by a manager who did nothing to accommodate him. That manager is long gone and as it turns out, despite what I think are differences with regard to this particular issue, there is a widespread consensus that manager erred, greatly. As a dispatcher, Dave is capable and pleasant. With regard to this statement:

"However, Steamtown has insisted that each operating contract between the DL/NPS/Rail Authority has had a clause that specifically forbids the DL from operating STEAM excursions of our own. I found out about that little gem while we were in the embryonic stages of planning the 2010 NRHS convention in Scranton and spit-balling ideas one night."

I would point out that covenants not to compete are rather common and I think the DL might be a little perturbed if Steamtown decided to run a few freight trains.


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:49 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 394
As far as the trolley museum is concerned, I would have to imagine that since it is on NPS property that all visitors are included in park attendance numbers. I don’t know if they pay a lease fee to the park or how that is set up. I have to assume that the decision to locate the museum there was to be mutually beneficial to both entities.

I wouldn’t classify the existence of a second museum on site to be predatory, since the ticket price at both gates is very reasonable and the excursion only takes about an hour. I haven’t done it since I have the luxury of being local but you could easily tour both facilities in a single day.

There was something in the local paper that the museum had to move an annual toys for tots event off site because the park would not allow it to be held on the grounds, I’ll post a link if I can find it. If the budget is at all determined by how many people come through the gate, and those visiting just the trolley museum are included in that count, then I have to ask if that has an effect on the bottom line?

I did not know that the park forbids the DL to run steam excursions. Those are the kind of restrictions that keep the activity from growing into more than what it currently is.


Last edited by 6-18003 on Tue Dec 01, 2015 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 4:00 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1729
"Take personal issues to PM".

Except what I wrote was not a "personal issue".

When an individual, any individual is a persistent, public critic of something, it is fair to examine the consistency of their statements and any personal biases they may have with regard to the object of their disaffections. That's why courts of law have and require cross-examination of witnesses.

Moreover, I described a specific incident that I was party to. My interlocutor offered the unattested statements of others, which is hearsay.

Will you remove the hearsay until the cited parties verify the statements attributed to them personally?


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 4:05 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1729
"I did not know that the park forbids the DL to run steam excursions. Those are the kind of restrictions that keep the activity from growing into more than what it currently is."

Would you also say that Steamtown not being able to run freight trains "are the kind of restrictions that keep the activity from growing into more than what it currently is"?


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 4:17 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:31 am
Posts: 394
But is that in the contract as well? Is this a two-sided restriction? This begs the question if they would even be allowed to run revenue freight under the NPS guidelines? Let's say that SNHS did start running revenue freight, would they be able to retain the proceeds?

I can’t find any good websites that describe how each NPS site is funded, if anyone has a link that they can post I would be grateful. For example, in what ways can the park retain funds that are generated on site instead of it going back into the general fund?


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 Post subject: Re: More active steam locomotives to return at Steamtown?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1729
"This begs the question if they would even be allowed to run revenue freight under the NPS guidelines? Let's say that SNHS did start running revenue freight, would they be able to retain the proceeds?"

I was arguing reductio ad absurdum. The point was reciprocity.


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