Vandalism may prevent the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society from adding additional cars to its sold-out late October excursions in Indiana behind the Nickel Plate Road No. 765.
Although not providing details, an email message sent by the group said passenger cars that FtWRHS hoped might be available have been withdrawn from service due to the damage.
The Fort Wayne group said that it is not clear if the damaged cars “will be mechanically fit for service. The vandalism is a very recent occurrence which has also affected our original excursion train set and severely limits additional numbers.”
Tickets for the Oct. 26 and 27 Wabash Cannonball trips between Fort Wayne and Lafayette, Ind., went on sale on Sept. 1 and sold out in less than two hours.
That compares with five days for a trip from Rocky River to Bellevue and 48 hours for trips from Lewistown, Pa., to Horseshoe Curve.
The FtWRHS has said that it was unprepared “for the overwhelming response in those initial 90 minutes, especially when compared to our previous offerings.” Would-be ticket buyers encountered slow or unresponsive website despite the allocation of additional computing resources. Those who tried to purchase tickets by phone received busy signals.
The group’s website experienced more than 3,000 visits and the phone line received more than 240 calls.
In selling tickets for the earlier trips, the FtWRHS used a third party vendor, but that vendor was not used to handle the sales of the Cannonball trips.
The Fort Wayne group said it continues to seek ways to accommodate more passengers with seats in each class.
It also discussed operating additional trips on alternate weekends, but rejected that because the Norfolk Southern route to be used for the Cannonball trip is a busy railroad and “it is in the best interest of these types of excursions to minimize” disruptions to NS operations.
A final determination about the availability of additional cars for the Cannonball trips is expected to be made by Sept. 30.
This would permit enough time for inspect cars for their mechanical suitability and well as to arrange for transportation of the cars to Fort Wayne. The FtWRHS established a wait list for tickets for the Cannnonball trip, but it has since been closed.
The 765 will be fired up on Oct. 3, 4 and 5 in conjunction with the visit of the Indiana History Train.