• General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.
General discussion related to all railroad clubs, museums, tourist and scenic lines. Generally this covers museums with static displays, museums that operate excursions, scenic lines that have museums, and so on. Check out the Tourist Railway Association (TRAIN) for more information.

Moderators: rob216, Miketherailfan

  by DonPevsner
(1)Back in the 1950's and 1960's, I grew up riding all sorts of interesting excursions in the Northeast. All of them were organized by regional NRHS Chapters or similar. By the 1980's, most of these efforts were abandoned, and the only "special events" in the Northeast thereafter were model railroad and memorabilia shows, and an occasional bus tour of abandoned sites on the NYO&W or CNE. Indeed, two special "rare mileage" excursions on the first weekend of November, 2010, via NS from Roanoke to Danville, VA and Roanoke to Bluefield, WV, were so rare that I made a special trip from my home in NW North Carolina to ride them both. They had mostly AMTRAK equipment, with several PV's (including domes) as well.

(2)Accordingly, in 2004, I actually succeeded in getting AMTRAK and NS approval for a special excursion train from Hoboken to Binghamton, NY and return, over the old Erie mainline. The last passenger excursion train west of Port Jervis had been an NJT-equipped excursion to Susquehanna, PA and return, in the 1980's.
Regrettably, AMTRAK refused to let its Philadelphia-based equipment out for a two-day weekend. A combination of a far-too-long single day and 20mph speed limits on the former Erie RR Delaware Division doomed my own, personal volunteer effort from the start.

(3)I would like to suggest here that an enterprising NRHS Chapter in the Northeast, or similar, approach AMTRAK President Joseph Boardman and ask him to personally intercede with top management at NS, NYS&W, CSX and Pan Am Railways to gain approval for the following railfan excursions over a two-day weekend:

(A)DAY ONE: Hoboken to Binghamton on the former Erie mainline (whose speed limits have been raised since 2004). Either overnight at Binghamton, or else proceed to Syracuse on the NYS&W and overnight there.


(i)EITHER Binghamton to Schenectady on the former D&H mainline (now CP); then CSX via Selkirk Yard and the River Division (West Shore) back to
Hoboken via connecting trackage on New Jersey; OR

(ii)CSX mainline Syracuse to junction for Selkirk Yard; then via Selkirk Yard and the River Division (West Shore) back to Hoboken via connecting trackage in New Jersey.

(B)DAY ONE: Boston North Station to Rotterdam Junction/Mohawk Yard (Schenectady) on the former B&M mainline through Hoosac Tunnel (now MBTA to Fitchburg and Pan Am Railways west of there) and overnight.

DAY TWO: Rotterdam Junction back to Boston North Station via the same routing, OR via former B&A mainline (CSX) to Boston South Station.
(A possible "wild card" on DAY TWO would be the CSX/Metro-North mainline from Schenectady to Beacon, NY; then Metro-North and the rest of the "Maybrook Line" to New Haven, and return to Boston South Station EITHER via the AMTRAK passenger mainline OR via Hartford and Springfield.)

(4)Though AMTRAK has a Charter Department in Philadelphia, a low-level approach to the private operating railroads would probably result in a "Not interested" reply. It was only with the assistance of Paul Reistrup at AMTRAK that I was able to get both AMTRAK and NS approval for my own operation in 2004.

(5)I did write to Joseph Boardman in mid-December, 2010, to ask whether he would be willing to make the needed approach. He did not even bother to reply for five weeks, despite my sending the request twice by fax to his private fax number, though the two of us have communicated in the past. Accordingly, I have washed my hands of again trying to do this myself.

*(6)If any pertinent railfans in the Northeast care enough to give it a try, I am certain that these trips would sell-out in less than a week after being announced to the public. The major effort of selling and fulfilling tickets could easily be handled by TICKETMASTER, with which I made a pioneering arrangement on 2004.

(7)I should add only that a $3,500-5,000 per person "millionaires-only" PV trip run by Bennett Levin or anyone else would hardly satisfy the pent-up demand for excursions such as those suggested above.
  by gprimr1
The Conrail historical society in 2008 did have success running a special up the Port River Road from Perryville to Harrisburg on the NS route.

I think it's a good idea, but I think the biggest issue is Pan Am. I can't imagine them, even with the president of Amtrak on their case, allowing an excursion train. Maybe a little more success on the Pan Am Southern area, but that would be a real challenge.
  by DutchRailnut
Doing a more than one day excursion is just about impossible due to current regulations.
Besides about 8 crews the train would need a full inspection by Qualified Maintenance Personel( yup that means qualified on that type of equipment and it can't be the crew)
In todays economical situation with nearly 25% of all Americans out of work its doubtfull you can even sell 2 car loads.
Just my $0.02
  by Noel Weaver
I pretty much agree wth "Dutch" on this. The operating costs of something like this would hit the roof and most would not be able to afford it. Amtrak has enough problems just running their own trains on time and without problems to tie up both equipment and people on something like this.
It might be possible to do a one day trip like Albany - Binghamton and return to Albany where equipment and people are not tied up overnight than something that will tie up both for days. I don't think CSX will allow much anywhere without a very high level decision from management.
I think PAN AM is a good possibility, their main line is in reasonable shape and can be easily accessed at the west end by Amtrak or the CP. It has been a long time since a fan trip has operated through the Hoosac Tunnel. Again, a one day round trip could be done here.
I think the NYS&W is probably out at the present time and probably for the reasonable future too. Metro-North Beacon Line is probably out for all time at this point unless something really unusual happens and I think this is very unlikely.
The River Line of couse is heavily saturated with freight traffic and I doubt if CSX would allow anything of this nature to tie up this important single track line even on a weekend or any other time for that matter.
The operating cost of just a one day round trip is so high today that some folks just have to think about it, I doubt if a multi-day trip would attract enough to operate.
Noel Weaver
  by gprimr1
I think the best way would be to go would be to find a route that had established railroads on one end. When Conrail did it, they were able to take the Keystone line home and make it a day trip.

I think a Hoosaic Tunnel trip would be incredible, and Pan Am doesn't run much on Sundays. I just am not sure you could persuade them to do an excursion, since I've read they killed off the excursion trips the B&M used to allow.

The other important thing to keep in mind is bathrooms. If your going to be doing day long trips, you need rolling stock equipped with rest rooms.
  by DonPevsner
It is perfectly feasible to "test the waters" via an online poll; i.e., would you prefer a one-day round-trip or a two-day, one-night trip that would cost more, but enable a more comprehensive trip over present freight-only lines?

And, believe it or not, there are plenty of people in the Northeast who could spare $300 or so for a 2-day, 1-night trip without having to go on welfare. Wherever did some of the commenters above get the idea that everyone there lives from paycheck to paycheck? The figure of "25% of Americans out of work" is totally inaccurate as well: even "basket-case" Spain has a 20% unemployment rate. The accurate U.S. unemployment rate has been hovering around 10% for quite awhile.

I further believe that finding car inspectors for a 2-day, 1-night trip would not be costly nor difficult.

It would be refreshing to see a little positive attitude, rather than all the old nonsense about "it can't be done." This attitude is precisely why no one has run a mainline NE fantrip for a good 25 years.
Last edited by DonPevsner on Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by Tadman
--Moved to Museum/Historical/Tourist forum.--
This has little to do with Amtrak.
  by Jeff Smith
I would add let's be a little less confrontational. People are offering their honest opinions, even if they disagree.
  by DonPevsner
(1)This has EVERYTHING to do with AMTRAK. AMTRAK's nine-figure liability insurance is the only reason why railroads like NS will allow special,"rare mileage" excursions to run over their freight-only tracks. Further, AMTRAK is the one that approaches the freight railroads to secure operating permission in the first place.

(2)I have just forwarded this thread to Steve Kulm, Director-Media Relations of AMTRAK in Washington, DC, who is the successor to my now-retired good friend, Clifford ("Cliff") Black IV, asking Mr. Kulm to forward it directly to AMTRAK President Joseph Boardman. This act is in the event that my two prior faxes somehow got "intercepted" at a lower level, and never reached Mr. Boardman since mid-December, 2010. I also asked Mr. Kulm to copy other relevant AMTRAK top executives. Let's see if anything happens.
  by Jeff Smith
Good for you. I sincerely do wish you the best of luck with your endeavors, but with that attitude, I doubt you'll have any, and I doubt anyone will respond. I would suggest some advice I've heard from a previous admin: "Relax. It's trains."

Since I see where this is going......