Posts Tagged ‘Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’

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.

C&O 1309 to Debut on WMSR on Dec. 17

November 23, 2021

The debut public runs of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 have been set for Dec. 17, 18 and 19 when the Mallet-type locomotive will pull a series of Polar Express trips on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The locomotive recently received Federal Railroad Administration approval to operate in revenue service and crews took it out on the WMSR mainline last weekend with three-car and eight-car trains.

WMSR officials told Railfan and Railroad magazine that crews are now making adjustments to the engine, including fine-tuning the system that enables it to alternate between simple and compound operations.

Plans are to run the 1309 for 100 miles of test runs before using it to pull passengers.

In a related development, Trains magazine said it will sponsor a three-day event featuring the 1309 on Feb, 25-27.

The event will be limited to 100 attendees and include 1309 pulling various excursions, a freight photo train, a night run, and a night photo shoot.

C&O 1309 Gets FRA Approval to Operate

November 20, 2021

Former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1390 has received Federal Railroad Administration approval to operate in revenue service.

Trains magazine reported on its website on Friday that the Baldwin-built steam locomotive will enter a period of testing and break-in operations on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad before it will begin pulling tourist trains on the 17-mile line.

The 1309 is expected to pull some Polar Express trains in December as well as participate in special events during the winter and spring.

Plans are to have the Mallet-type engine pull regular WMSR excursion trains as well.

The 1309 was restored to operating condition by the WMSR in a $3.5 million project after years of static display at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.

C&O 1309 to Begin Revenue Service By December

August 30, 2021

Former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is expected to debut in revenue service by mid December.

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad executive director Wesley Heinz said the tourist railroad is pushing as hard as it can to get the on the road and that it could debut sometime between now and Dec. 17.

The 1309 is expected to pull some Polar Express excursions in December.

Although most restoration work of the last Baldwin built for domestic rail operation remains to be done, some work remains to be completed.

The WMSR began operations on Aug. 26 after completing track rehabilitation that had been ordered by the Federal Railroad Administration.

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.

Testing of C&O 1309 Expected Soon

July 17, 2021

The former dome car Ocean View is how operating on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

Testing of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is expected to begin soon at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

The last Baldwin steam engine built for domestic use needed new firebrick for its firebox before testing can begin. Delivery of the firebrick has been delayed due to supply and labor shortages.

In the meantime, the WMSR has begun using in revenue service a full-length dome car built in 1955 for the Great Northern.

The Ocean View was Amtrak’s last dome car. The passenger carrier retired the car in 2019. It began operating on WMSR trains Cumberland and Frostburg earlier this month.

The car has been repainted into the red and while “circus” colors of the Western Maryland.

Also operating on the WMSR are an open-air car and privately owned cars Pacific Trail and Overland Trail.

Ocean View was purchased and renovated by a partnership between Rail Excursion Management and PAXRAIL.

It is believed to be the first dome car to use WM rails other than one or two documented detours of Baltimore & Ohio passenger trains..

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.

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.