jmp883 wrote:I'm as much a railfan as anyone on these forums and while I love the fact that NS is serious about the Heritage repaints I have to wonder if the money could be allocated for more important projects that would enhance operations. In this day and age I have to wonder how many shipping dept. personnel in all the industries that NS serves even know anything at all about railroad history. I'm sure there might be a few railfans working in those industries out there but my gut feeling is that most shippers could care less about how a locomotive is painted. He just wants affordable, timely service or he will look for other shipping options.
That is a debate that goes back 170 years, ever since railroads began..
and while its a valid point, and its true that most railroad customers only care about service, its also true that "image matters"..
and image can be said to gain more customers and make more money than not caring about image..its why advertising exists!
If no one cared about "looks" every locomotive would be a square box..no style, no fancy design..we wouldnt have had E-units or Alco PA's, (why spend the extra money for a fancy bulldog nose when a square box would be a lot cheaper?)..no Southern Pacific streamlined Daylight, etc, there are a million examples....Style and image is important, even for freight..Railroads have spent a lot of money over the years painting locomotives in fancy paintschemes, when a plain black "dip job" would have been much cheaper..why do they bother to "waste" the money? because it isnt a waste in reality..
public perception matters..good will matters..a good public image makes your company more profitable in the long run..it might seem like it "costs more" to paint locomotives in fancy paintschemes, but in reality it costs more not to..its why advertising exists.."you have to spend money to make money"..and fancy paintschemes are basically just advertising..
the amount of money NS spends on this "unnecessary" heritage program will probably be paid back many times over in public good will, which will translate to more sales, even if its difficult to quantify exactly how it works...Railroads (or any company) dont knowingly "waste money"...they do things for a reason.
In the long run, it wont be a waste..think how much free advertising NS is going to get from all the local newspapers and TV stations who are going to do stories about these locomotives coming to every town and city NS serves..and the railfan magazines..that alone will make it worth it right there..
NS knows what they are doing! Sure, on one level its just "corporate goodwill"..they are doing it because its a cool thing to do..but they are also well aware the program will enhance the bottom line..there is nothing "wasteful" about this at all..