• Conway Scenic Railroad (CSRX) discussion thread

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by NHV 669
The GP-9 belongs to the 470 club, not Conway Scenic.
  by b&m 1566
Jonathan wrote: Wed Dec 15, 2021 7:15 pm Just saw that 7470 is not guaranteed to run in January of 2022, can someone tell the railroad to get the steam engine fixed first before purchasing equipment that shouldn't have been purchased in the first place? I'm very disappointed, 7470 is the jewel of the railroad and rather than focusing on getting new equipment, they should have spent their time with this, not getting a GP9 for a display piece and a third locomotive for the notch train. They owe a year filled with steam events to us railfans that hoped to see 7470 numerous times.
Railfan's can be disappointed all they want; the railroad doesn't owe them anything to be frank. Less than 3% of their business is supported by railfans, so railfans are not their main focus. The GP9 you mentioned, belongs to the 470 RR Club and 255 was actually needed, they were down to 3 operating locatives with 252 down, and they saw an opportunity to save some MEC history in the process. The 4266 having never received any king of major upgrade in its history, is essentially in its original condition, making it an operating museum piece and should be treated as such. I guess none of these things matter though, since the 3% of the railroads business, has decided it's open season on this ownership group and is publicly shaming them because they are doing things different.
  by backroadrails
The public shaming is much deserved. The ownership of Conway Scenic has shown time after time that he is incapable of following through with what he says. I can see with all of the events in the past two years that there might be some difficulties in running a tourist based operation. But this repeated trend of ownership failures completely nullifies that excuse. It says something when there are only a handful of long time employees/ volunteers still at Conway, who left seemingly at the same time. Not to mention the fact that the railroad is running without an operations manager, after the last one got into an argument with the Swirks about where the company was headed, and was reportedly removed from his position for speaking up. And just to clarify, that "3%" was going to bring an estimated $30,000.00 to Conway Scenic along with the surrounding businesses in the course of a week between two steam charters. And I am certain with the money that was spent on the HEP generator, a good deal of work on the 7470 or the 252 could have been paid for.
  by NHV 669
Remember the time they put 252 on the ground in mid January not even close to the bad parts of Crawford Notch for the sake of a dome car that took until nearly June to move anyway? Or this summer, when they duffed it on putting the same car in the roundhouse without damaging the thing? When longtime observers note a problem, there's probably one present. Especially when people who love the operation are dissociating themselves from the place because of present ownership. Lest we forget how the previous purchase attempt was undercut.
  by CSRR573
I was optimistic when the new owners came in, however and this pains me to say this but the last few times ive been on ive been disappointed. Commentary isnt even close to where it used to be, train handling seems to have gotten worse(steam to hazens 2019 and the inaugural "Mountaineer"). they butchered the schedule, spent money on firetrucks and school buses that just seem to sit, that useless HEP generator, and my personal pet peeve the Rhonda lee (doesn't match the train at all!) and now the elimination of railfans weekend. Been a Faithfull and devoted customer since 1991 and been on every special and rare milage run they've done and for me, the place just seems like a ship without a rudder now a days
  by Jonathan
As far as the abandonment of Railfans weekend is concerned, I heard that the reason for it this year was the staff shortage they currently have, and yes, the railroad has messed up financially having canceled two steam charters in January that would have been a money maker for them, no doubt. It all comes down to would you rather have those problems fixed or have the steam engine permenantly retired? Had they had gone ahead and accepted the $30,000 and run that steam engine with the problem not fully resolved, you'd either be looking at a. the steam engine having a issue during either one of the two events or b. 7470 being like 501, a display. But, if what i'm hearing is true, 252 will be running holiday week along with 255, meaning the shop crew can hopefully focus on getting 7470 back up and running for next year, so there is some optimism. The Rhonda Lee dome car does not bother me at all, the silver is kind of cool paired with the consist scheme, but, to each their own.

Let's not forget, the new owners have appeased the railfan crowd numerous times. Railfans Weekend 2018, having 7470 lead through the notch twice in 2019, 7470 running during christmas vacation week last year, the photo freight this past may, and the steam photo freight during Railfans Weekend 2019. Yes, I know, I went on a rant on Wednesday, but just thinking back to the events that the new owners made especially for us railfans, and the state of the locomotive roster this past season, maybe they were making the right moves after all.
  by backroadrails
A staff shortage, after a good portion of the operations and customer service staff walked out due to the climate of the company under the new regime...
  by NHN503

And being a past employee that left under the current regime, I can say that I'd never ever thought I would have wanted Russ back, but here I am. I really like the CSRR and want it to succeed more than anything, but it just came down to I had to distance myself as far as possible, for safety and reputation.

Like I said before, CSRR is a falling knife at this point. Yes they don't owe railfans anything, but they owe it to the thousands of past customers, employees, and Dwight to straighten out and fly right, otherwise it's all for not.

As far as 7470, from what I'm hearing from the shop guys it was a relatively easy truck fix due to a CN casting flaw (it was found on another engine elsewhere as well with the same trucks). It would have required some notching and filling and bam; done, but ownership wants to again make things more complicated then they need to be.
  by Jonathan
I agree, I want the Conway Scenic to succeed just as much as everyone else, regardless of the way the new owners run the business. The railroad has been with me all my life, it was the first railroad I ever chased, it's the one railroad I keep coming back to to chase the train. I think they have been innovative in what they have added, especially the snow train idea. As for the mass departure of long time CSRR employees and volunteers (including the Operations Manager), there is definitely something that they do not agree with as it pertains to the leadership and/or the future of the railroad. I think someone posted a job review of a cullinary staff worker who said the Swirks didn't care about the teams mental health. If that's true, then there HAS to be a change, right away, or else people will not want to come work for a railroad that is literally the heart and soul of the Mount Washington Valley.
  by Jonathan
Incompetent micro managing owners drove the entire culinary team away. AVOID!
July 19, 2021
Any good marks i gave management is for a manager that is no longer there. The owners managed to make the entire culinary and bar staff leave. They do not care about you as a person or worker. Last year they had some of us working 60-80 hour weeks during covid, resulting in diminished morale, physical, and mental health in all culinary staff. This went unthanked and unappreciated.
This is what I was referring to. If this kind of environment keeps up, there will not be any horns or whistles sounding in the Conway area at all. Something needs to be done.
  by NHV 669
The 80 hour weeks are certainly still a thing, for folks not moving the trains. Ask for less, and you'll be shown the door. Pushing employees who love your attraction and want to work there away makes no sense, when you can't retain what you've got. And like any workplace, the most knowledgeable that still show up, won't be there forever. It sucks for the guys who truly care about the craft.
Last edited by NHV 669 on Sat Dec 18, 2021 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Safetee
Back in the day, agreeing to work on the railroad inferred the willingness of the individual to do whatever the railroad felt was necessary when ever the railroad felt it it was necessary. 7 /24 period. Kind of like the Marines. Some of that thinking still prevails in the freight rail side of things today. Unfortunately, most of todays smart phone, texting, techno oriented population doesn't want to jive to that music. Failure of management to deal with that change of attitude at a time where the change is in fact a tide wave will lead to organizations quickly finding out that they are severely undermanned and struggling to handle the traffic. Like the operations on PAS.
  by Jonathan
The 80 hour work weeks I have absolutely no problem with. It's the result I have a problem with, the diminshed morale and the physical and mental health issues some of them faced. Thats what I have a problem with. Also, the new owners apparently didn't care about the employees as workers or people. That's definitely NOT someone you want as a boss, especially a boss that is head of a world renowned tourist attraction like Conway Scenic.
Last edited by Jonathan on Sat Dec 18, 2021 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by MEC407
Safetee wrote: Sat Dec 18, 2021 9:46 am Back in the day, agreeing to work on the railroad inferred the willingness of the individual to do whatever the railroad felt was necessary when ever the railroad felt it it was necessary. 7 /24 period.
That lifestyle came with the understanding that there would be very good compensation, top-notch benefits, and eventually a very good pension.

That doesn't seem to be the case here.

According to the job web site Indeed.com, ticket agents at CSRX make only $7.25/hour. That's not a livable wage anywhere in the United States, let alone in the Conway area.

According to the same web site, culinary staff at CSRX make an average of $13.26/hour. That's not a livable wage in the Conway area either.

To put those wages in perspective: starting pay at the local Dunkin' Donuts is $13/hour. Starting pay at the local Walgreens is $15/hour. Starting pay at the local Hannaford is $15/hour. Those aren't livable wages in the Conway area either, but at least they're a bit higher than the poverty wages at CSRX.

If CSRX doesn't want to pay fair wages, they should become a nonprofit museum and take their chances with volunteer labor. If they want to be a for-profit business, they need to keep up with what the other businesses in the area are paying, otherwise they'll eventually have no employees. That's how the free market works.
  by Jonathan
As someone who has a long term dream of one day moving up to North Conway and eventually working for the railroad, I'd be satisfied to work in cullinary, because they're actually paying above minimum wage, anyone know if the engineers and train crew make the same money as either the Cullinary team or ticket office?
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