Posts Tagged ‘tourist railroads’

Tourist Railroads Struggle to Get Staff

March 23, 2022

Tourist railroads are struggling to attract enough workers to cover all of their functions, Trains magazine reported in an analysis posted on its website.

That could be a problem as the summer peak season approaches.

Roger Fuehring, president of the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance, said the problem in part is generational.

He said many younger people are more interested in the Internet, technology and remote jobs than in hands-on physical labor that can be exhausting and dirty.

The Trains analysis noted that the U.S. Travel Association said about a third of the jobs in leisure and hospitality vanished during the COVID-19 pandemic and the sector’s unemployment rate is above 6 percent compared with 3.9 percent in the overall workforce.

Tourist railroads have particularly had a hard time attracting people with specific skills, such as welding, that are in high demand elsewhere.

Some of the tourist railroad officials interviewed by Trains said attracting volunteers has also been a challenge.

Those officials said tourist railroads may need to raise fares to generate more money to pay competitive wages to their paid workers.

The story can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/tourist-railroads-have-a-workforce-issue-analysis/

Tourist Railroads Expect Robust 2022 Season

March 5, 2022

Tourist and heritage railroads can look forward to robust business this summer, an analysis published on the website of Trains magazine concluded.

The analysis cited projections from various tourist organizations of increased travel this year with Americans expected to spend $726 billion on leisure travel, which is near pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

Tourist railroad and private railroad car association officials interviewed by Trains said advance ticket sales for this year have been strong with some trips sold out months in advance.

However, one official said it will take years to recoup revenue lost during the pandemic when some tourist railroads had to shut down or operate at reduced capacity.

Ray Kammer Jr., president of the Cincinnati Railway Company and the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad expects it will take two or three years before his organization recovers from the revenue loss it suffered in 2020.

To read the article visit https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/tourist-railroads-poised-for-a-strong-rebound-in-2022-analysis/

C&O 1309 Makes Another Successful Test Run

December 10, 2021

Former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 made a test run this week that officials said was trouble free and clears the way for the locomotive to pull Polar Express trains next week on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

WMSR general manager Wesley Heinz told a newspaper published in Cumberland, Maryland, that some adjustments to the 1309 will be made before it begins revenue service between Cumberland and Frostburg.

Additional test runs are expected to be made next week as well.

Heinz said the tourist railroad has sold 22,000 Polar Express tickets this year with all tickets for the Dec. 17 through 19 excursions having been sold.

Cincinnati Tourist RR Faces Uncertain Future

August 27, 2021

A Cincinnati area tourist railroad faces an uncertain future due infrastructure work that could reach $2.5 million over the next decade.

Much of that involves replacing bridges along the route.

The Lebanon, Mason & Monroe Railroad is operated by the Cincinnati Scenic Railway, which also sponsors excursions in western Ohio operating as The Ohio Rail Experience.

The LM&M uses track owned by the city of Lebanon, which helps fund the tourist train’s operations.

The current operating agreement will expire on Jan. 1, 2023, and the CSR is negotiating a new agreement with the city. The costs of replacing bridges has become a sticking point in the talks.

An LM&M spokesman said the tourist railroad is “aggressively pursuing” grant opportunities to help fund the repairs.

However, some fear that the LM&M will cease operations at the end of 2022.

City manager Scott Brunka said negotiations over the new agreement are in their early stages. He characterized supporting for the railroad as “a sound investment in Lebanon’s future, as well as the right thing to do.”

WMSR Names New Executive Director

August 27, 2021

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has named Wesley Heinz as its executive director.

He replaces John Garner who stepped down from the position temporarily in June to attend to health and family concerns.

Heinz has been acting executive director in the interim. He previously was executive director at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum in Portland, Maine, and has a background in

Historic preservation, fundraising, and marketing.

His work has included serving on operating and restoration crews for numerous steam locomotives, including Western Maryland’s project to restore Cheasapeake & Ohio  2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

WMSR Using Dome Car on Excursions

July 6, 2021

A former Amtrak done car has begun revenue service on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The car is former former Great Northern Railway full-length dome Ocean View.

It has been repainted and lettered  for the WMSR and will make regular runs between Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland.

The car was built in 1955, one of six full length-domes built for GN and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy.

Amtrak acquired all six of the domes and assigned them to its Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle until the domes were replaced with new Superliner Equipment in 1979.

In recent years, Amtrak’s last dome car on its active roster was used for special occasions on select trains, including the Adirondack and Downeaster.

Retired in 2018, Ocean View was offered for sale in 2019, eventually being purchased by Paxrail.

Chasing the NY&LE (Part 2)

June 16, 2021

Second of two parts

After the New York & Lake Erie excursion train arrived at South Dayton, passengers disembarked for a 30-minute layover.

We watched and photographed as the locomotive ran around to the other end of the train for the return to Gowanda.

We then toured the station, which was open during the layover. We enjoyed the displays and photo albums from local residents of Robert Redford, Steve Martin, John Candy, and the former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-4 No. 4070 during the visits in the 1980s.

Many of the locals were very lucky to have photos of and with the celebrities.

At about 3:15 p.m. the train departed for the return trip. We chased it and got a few more photographs.

In the images above we see changing ends at South Dayton, approaching Markhams Road after passing Dole Street, the train at East Hill Street dropping down into Gowanda.

Back in Gowanda, we see the train passing a derelict Contrack coach that Marty, myself and Craig Sanders had seen in 2017 during a trip to Arcade & Attica.

Finally, here is No. 1013 as it appears today and No. 1013 as it appeared during an Akron Railroad Club/Railroad Enthusiasts charter trip on April 26, 1987

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

WMSR Resumes Excursions This Weekend

May 28, 2021

Excursions will resume this weekend on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The 90-minute trips will be pulled by diesel locomotives and include a new open-air car and a dome car.

They will be the first excursions on the tourist railroad in more than a year with service having been suspended for most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trips are scheduled to depart on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Capacity for each trip is limited to 250 people.

Excursions pulled by former Chesapeake & Ohio steam locomotive No. 1309 will be announced at a later date.

Rebuilding WMSR 734 Seen as Years Away

April 24, 2021

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad said it plans to stabilize and evaluate its 2-8-0 steam locomotive No. 734, but has no plans to resume operations with it.

 “Our new mechanical team has found accounts and inspection forms that indicate the locomotive was performing well below peak efficiency during her final years in service,” officials said.

“The locomotive was often pushed far beyond its normal operating capabilities, which has resulted in extreme wear and tear of many key components, particularly the running gear.”

WMSR forces have in the past couple years been focused largely on restoring former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309, which was steamed up earlier this year and is expected to begin revenue service this summer.

No. 734 is a “Consolidation” type built by Baldwin in 1916 for the Lake Superior & Ishpeming as No. 18 and later had roster number 34.

It was retired by the LS&I in the early 1960s and ran on another tourist railroad and sat on static display at Illinois Railway Museum.

WMSR restored the 734 in the early 1990s and it was featured in many photo charters over the years. The locomotive last operated in 2016.

WMSR officials said the 734 is in extremely worn mechanical condition and will need a lengthy and expensive overhaul.

“If undertaken, it would also mean a significant investment in a locomotive that no longer meets the daily needs of the railroad, though this does not remove the possibility of 734 operating on the lighter, off-season trains and as stand-by power for 1309,” officials said.

The officials said the WMSR cannot commit to rebuilding the 734 until it determine the cost and scope of the needed work.

They indicated that review would not be completed until after the 2021 operating season and is likely to require a fundraising campaign.

Nonetheless WMSR officials expect that it will be a few years before overhaul work on the 734 begins in earnest.

The railroad plans to resume operations on May 29 after being shut down since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maryland County Assumes WMSR Track Maintenance

March 16, 2021

A Maryland County has agreed to assume responsibility for track maintenance of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

Allegany County will take on that duty in the wake of an order by the Federal Railroad Administration last month that 50,000 ties be replaced before the railroad can resume revenue service.

The heritage operation has been shut down since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FRA-manmdated work is expected to enable the WMSR to be classified as a Class 2 railroad.

That would enable passenger trains to operate at a top speed of 30 miles per hour.

County officials said they believe the tie work could be completed at a cost of $250,000, a much lower estimate than an earlier $2 million projection.