Posts Tagged ‘tourist railroads’

C&O 1309 Restoration Runs Out of Money

November 18, 2017

Efforts to restore Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 have run out of steam. More to the point it has run out of money.

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Executive Director John Garner remains optimistic the restoration can be completed and the tourist railroad is seeking additional funding.

However, he said the restoration will not be completed at the expense of the other operations.

“A lot of our visitors have the idea that we should throw all of our money into the 1309’s restoration, but that would bankrupt us,” Garner told Trains magazine.

He estimated WMSR needs least an additional $530,000 to complete No. 1309’s restoration and finding additional sources of money has been a slow process.

There have also been some disappointments, including less money than expected from photo freight charter trains that ran in October.

“I don’t think that we fully understood what was going on in the region on that weekend; there were several other railroad-themed events going on around the same time,” Garner told Trains.

Some grant sources look promising, but that money won’t arrive until late 2018 if it arrives at all.

The railroad is preparing to send out a round of 1,600 letters to plead for donations and will host more freight photo charters in February.

WMSR said the remaining running gear and boiler work is expected to cost $120,000 and $115,000 to complete.

To date, the restoration of No. 1309 has benefited from at least $400,000 from the State of Maryland.

Last spring the WMSR said it had spent $800,000 of its own money on the restoration. By August the project had consumed $1.8 million.

Aside from funding issues, work on the 1309 restoration has been hindered by mechanical problems that forced cancellation earlier this month of a hydrostatic test on the articulated locomotive’s boiler.

“We filled the boiler with water up to the crown sheet and repaired a few leaks around the stay bolts,” Garner said. “Then we ran out of money.”

Maryland officials have expressed confidence in the leadership of the WMSR, but have said that no more public funds are expected to be forthcoming toward the 1309 restoration.

Allegany County in Maryland owns the former Western Maryland Railroad right-of-way from Cumberland to Frostburg.

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C&O Restoration Could Run WMSR Out of Business

August 11, 2017

The head of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is warning that the cost of restoring Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 might drive the railroad out of business.

“I’m a realist,” said General Manager John Garner. “At some point in time, we are going to run out of money. We’re looking to be able to finish the locomotive, but there’s that chance we’re going to be hung up on something else.”

That could be an unexpected and expensive repair such as the one that workers discovered last month. Corrosion on the axle boxes of the 2-6-6-2 Baldwin will mean that the axles will have to be sent to a contractor to be machined at a cost of $200,000.

That work is also expected to delay by two or three months the date when the locomotive can be steamed up and sent on a test run.

To bolster its cash flow, the WMSR has revived the WMSR Foundation to collect donations.

The foundation had been dormant for two years and links on its website for donations did not work.

“At some point in time we’re going to have to get the word out that our systems are up and functioning, and our foundation is respectable now,” Garner said. “I’ve been telling my friends, if you really love and want to support the Western Maryland, the best thing you can do is to buy a ticket.”

He was referring in part to a planned shop tour on Aug. 12. Tickets are available for $40.49 and can be purchased from the railroad’s website.

Pa. Tourist Railroads Offering Joint Ticketing

July 17, 2017

Two Pennsylvania tourist line railroads are offering discounted combination tickets for passengers who ride both lines during the summer.

The participating railroads are the Ma & Pa Railroad Heritage Village and the Stewartstown Railroad, both based in York County and a 20-minute drive apart.

The joint tickets are being issued to commemorate the heritage of both railroads, a practice that was once common in the Northeast.

The Maryland & Pennsylvania dates to 1870 and once connected York with Baltimore. The Stewartstown Railroad, known as “the farmers railroad,” was built in 1885 between Stewartstown and New Freedom.

The railroads noted in a statement that both carriers were in their early years backed by local residents who saw them as a lifeline to a wider world.

The Stewartstown continues to operate from its namesake city over a portion of its original 7.4-mile line.

Volunteers on a monthly basis operate track cars run over the line to New Freedom.

The Ma & Pa is based at Muddy Creek Forks and offers motorcar excursions over 5.4 miles of the original Ma & Pa main line.

Docents in period costumes offer tours of the A.M. Grove General Store, the roller mills, grain elevator, and exhibits about the railroad and its region.

WMSR Receives State Grant for Maintenance

July 13, 2017

The Maryland Board of Public Works has awarded a $250,000 grant to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to support general operations and equipment maintenance.

The funding will be used to maintain diesel locomotives and passenger equipment, much of which is more than 50 years old.

WMSR has EMD GP30s and a fleet of aging passenger cars that it uses for excursions between Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland.

It is not clear if the funding will be used to help with the restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

Ed Journeys to the Everett Railroad Again

May 31, 2017

Owen (left) and Karl pose with Everett No. 11 in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

On May 20, Akron Railroad Club member Ed Ribinskas along with his brother-in-law Karl and his son Owen (Ed’s nephew) did an all-day trip to railfan in Pennsylvania. Today’s installment focuses on their visit to the Everett Railroad where they chased and photographed two trips.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The first of three images made of the train in Hollidaysburg.

 

Switching at Brooks Mills

At West Loop Road

Nearing Monastery Road.

Crossing Pennsylvania Route 36 north of Roaring Spring.

At Roaring Spring.

 

Different Point of View on Arcade & Attica

May 29, 2017

Akron Railroad Club members Edward Ribinskas and Jeff Troutman ventured to New York State on Saturday to chase the Arcade & Attica steam tourist train.

They’ve been there before but what was different this time was that A&A was celebrating its 100th anniversary by operating its 2-8-0 Alco No. 18 with its nose facing west rather than east as is the custom.

In the top photograph, No. 18 is read to depart from Curriers, New York. In the bottom photograph No. 18 rests at Curriers during its first run.

The A&A ran two trips last Saturday, both of them departing from Arcade, New York.

Photographs by Jeff Troutman

1309 Restoration Work Halted for Lack of Funds

April 28, 2017

Financial issues are preventing the completion of restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 to operating conditions.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad had said No. 1309 would make its maiden journey after restoration on July 1.

But slow reimbursements from the State of Maryland have jeopardized that. John Garner, superintendent of the WMSR, said all restoration work was halted in early March due to lack of funding.

Last year the Maryland governor’s office earmarked $400,000 in a matching grant to help with the restoration of No. 1309.

Garner says that the WMSR must spend its own capital dollars before reimbursement can be processed by the state.

Seeking to raise the railroad’s matching share of $400,000 while trying to continue regular operations has proven difficult for the WMSR.

Garner said state officials are working to give railroad vendors the status of approved state contractors and to also approve vendors’ invoices.

“It’s all up to the state now; if [the state] cuts a check loose tomorrow, we go back to work,” he said, adding that he can’t predict when the 1309 restoration will be completed and when the locomotive will operate.

He did say that another eight weeks of work is needed to get No. 1309 operational.

Among the remaining work to be completed is a hydrostatic test for the boiler and reassembly work if the test shows the locomotive will safely hold steam and water under pressure.

Those who have purchased tickets for the planned July 1 runs are being given refunds or re-booked on a July 4 weekend excursion. The WMSR is offering $10 vouchers good for train rides, gift shop purchases or on-board services.

WMSR Returns to Frostburg on May 6

March 10, 2017

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad said its first trip to Fostburg, Maryland, in nine months will run on May 6.

The railroad’s general manager, John Garner, said a retaining wall has been built at the sites where landslides last year severed the route.

Garner said railroad personnel will spend the next nine weeks inspecting the track that has been out of service. They will clear brush and make any needed repairs to the track.

With trains unable to operate to Frostburg in 2016, ridership fell by about 10,000.

Another factor in the decline of patronage was that Western Maryland Scenic 2-8-0 No. 734 was removed from service last April for a 1,472-day inspection.

WMSR Repairs Track Damaged by Landslide

March 9, 2017

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has repaired its tracks at the site of a landslide that kept the railroad from reaching Frostburg, Maryland.

The landslide was found in July 2016 at Woodcock Hollow, about 10 miles from Cumberland, Maryland. Another landslide had occurred near there in February 2016.

The landslides resulted in trains operating only as far as a siding at milepost 174.

Repairing the tracks cost right of way owner Allegany County, Maryland, $1.5 million, some of which was reimbursed by federal funds.

D&GB Ridership Increased in 2016

January 17, 2017

Ridership on West Virginia’s Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad was 85,943 in 2016.

West VirginiaThe season runs from March through December and the preliminary figures for last year show 2,095 more passengers than the 83,848 who rode in 2015.

October was the busiest month when 21,829 rode. The corresponding number for October 2015 was 18,971.

A new holiday ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad helped to bump up patronage during the holiday season.

That train had a Christmas theme and used the former Chesapeake & Ohio Greenbrier line between Cass and Durbin.