• RARE MILEAGE EXCURSION w/ PRR E8s! - October 17

  • Discussion related to the operations and equipment of Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) from 1976 to its present operations as Conrail Shared Assets. Official web site can be found here: CONRAIL.COM.
Discussion related to the operations and equipment of Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) from 1976 to its present operations as Conrail Shared Assets. Official web site can be found here: CONRAIL.COM.

Moderators: TAMR213, keeper1616

  by shadyjay
 
I sat in the first car, which was an ex-Metroliner car so half the seats were backwards, including mine. Not a big deal. But my real question was those people sitting in the leather Business Class seats.... did they pay $130 to ride there too? So in effect, you had 2 classes of service split up between 4 types of cars: Amfleet coach, Business Class, Commuter cars, and then the 4 parlors.

Scenery was pretty good and I saw a lot I've never seen before, mainly because I've never travelled by rail any point south of NYC (except Steamtown). I was amazed at how many lines in the area had catenary at one time, from the Port Road to various lines off the Keystone line. The stop at Harrisburg was a nice surprise and I got to see a GG1 for the first time.

Of course the weather wasn't the greatest, but noone can control that. Statistically, weather isn't always in favor for railfan excursions. We were all dry however, only the chasers had to be out in it, though the drops on the windows did make photography "challenging".

My only complaint was the lack of any literature regarding what we were seeing along the line. My seat mate had a guidebook which he got for the convention... he let me browse through it and I found out it was 98% about the excursion and 2% about the convention. Seems to me this should have been made available to everyone who purchased a ticket. We did have a couple passengers in my car who lightened the mood quite a bit and gave us a brief calling out of our location which was cool, and more than a few laughs along the way!

Never did hear anything about a raffle.

My first time at 30th Street station and wow it is quite the structure! I was able to get on a NB Amtrak Regional train 2 hours earlier as I went to the ticket window and paid an extra $10 or so to get on the 6:20.... well worth it to get back earlier. Despite the $130 price tag, it was a great trip.
  by RDGFan40
 
chuchubob wrote:
rdgrailfan wrote:The persons managing the trip had EVERY right to advise people that they were using some Amtrak and the balance SEPTA.

I would have never paid $130.00 to ride in a middle seat of a comet car for 8 hours, While the management "attempted" to explain away the issues they failed to advise the passengers ahead of time they were assigned to commuter coaches. They knew what they were doing.

They owe a lot of people some money back on the tickets, It was like a three class trip..Private cars, Amtrak, they rest of the folks
They exercised their right to inform people that the consist would be five Amfleets and three SEPTA's. I was aware of that from a railfan message board several days before the trip. I hoped that I'd get an Amfleet. I was fortunate that I got an Amfleet. If I had been in a SEPTA coach I would have been slightly disappointed but would not have complained about it. CRHS needs to be chastized for two noreasters in two days too, correct? Grow up.
Grow up? Easy for you to say, you got an amfleet car with toilet facilities, reclining seats and food tray for the same price as I. You ride 8 hrs in a comet car next time and see how you feel.

---Edited by keeper1616 -- removed personal attacks
  by Kaback9
 
While you all have valid points I agree with the fact that if everyone paid the same price and there were two levels of service that is not fair. The people riding in SEPTA cars should have been discounted the price of their ticket by X amount of dollars as compensation for having to ride in a car that is not meant to be sat in for more than 3 hours at best.

*Note I was not on the trip or involved in anyway just my $.02
  by shadyjay
 
I believe in the original trip literature ad, the words used were "modern coaches" for coach class. I didn't know what to expect, until I posted on here and got a reply. Agreed, I would have been disappointed to sit in a 3-2 coach for 7+ hours, especially if I knew same price seating was a few cars up. It is possible however that the train never meant to run with those SEPTA cars and that they were added because of demand, and Amtrak could only come up with the cars in the head end. Was the intent to originally have as many "private" cars on board as they did? Were those cars added because first class demand exceeded capacity of the Warrior Ridge?

They said it best when there were issues that came up and had to be resolved and that they know now for next time. We all do know however that they "made money" on the trip (thanks to the PA)... but wonder how much they had to pay for not just the equipment from Amtrak and SEPTA and JT but also crews from Amtrak and NS on a weekend, and trackage rights over the railroads. Though outside of leaving Enola, I did not see any freights waiting "in the hole" for us, and throughout the trip we only waited twice for trains to pass... both times Amtraks.
  by rswinnerton
 
Its been a real mixed bag of reactions about this trip. We've had a flurry of email regarding both the good and bad. With that in mind, I'd like to set the record straight on a few things:

Let's talk Septa cars first (as they are the point of most contention). We were told when we ordered the Comets that all seating was 2X3 seating. We weren't told that one of the 3 wide seats was in effect a "jumpseat", nor were we told that the ends of the car were 2X2 with nothing but paneling to look at. We were told this and that the capacity of the cars was 130 people and we booked it as such. When we got to the platform and saw these, we were shocked at what we got and had we known ahead of time the situation, we would have not booked the cars to capacity. For that I apologise.

The dinette we got from Amtrak (for those who weren't on the trip) was half tables and half business car seats (1X2 configuration). We were told by Amtrak that our cafe car would be an all table car. The folks in the business class seats all paid the same price as everyone else and most were people who had some kind of medical request or had been seated in rows that did not exist in the Comets (due to the seating at either end of the Comet cars). The table section was also filled with these folks.

The raffle was cancelled due to the weather. I talked with Bennett Levin and we agreed not to do it partly because of the gaurantee of getting soaked but also because the rain created a slippery condition which made it unsafe.


Which brings us to the subject of compensation. Before any talk can begin about refunds etc, the Board of the CRHS (of which I am a director) is going to meet and discuss how best to handle this. I will keep people updated as is appropriate.

Finally, this brings us to next time. There will be a next time. I can't release our plans for the next one. I can tell you there will NOT be ANY Septa equipment on the next trip. Period. I will also say that we may obtain cars from other agencies (NJT, MARC, etc) but they will be priced and labeled accordingly (most likely a class seperation 1st class, Coach Class, Base Class, Etc).

The learning curve on this has been big for us. As we've never run a trip before, we weren't totally sure what to expect. Now that we've gotten one under our belt, we've got a better handle on things and the mistakes of this trip will not be allowed to happen again. The CRHS accostomed to putting on a first rate show (ask anyone about Conrail Days, our Conventions, etc) and we were also disappointed with the problems we encountered.

I will post more info on this situation as appropriate but please feel free to post other questions here or email me directly at [email protected]

Thanks!
Russ Swinnerton
Onboard Services Manager
  by RDGFan40
 
Kaback9 wrote:While you all have valid points I agree with the fact that if everyone paid the same price and there were two levels of service that is not fair. The people riding in SEPTA cars should have been discounted the price of their ticket by X amount of dollars as compensation for having to ride in a car that is not meant to be sat in for more than 3 hours at best.

*Note I was not on the trip or involved in anyway just my $.02

Actually 4 levels (Amtrak Business, Coach, septa and the Juniata cars.) but I'm glad someone sees the logic in my gripe. I'm not asking for a refund, just some common sense to be used in the future.
  by RDGFan40
 
rswinnerton wrote:Its been a real mixed bag of reactions about this trip. We've had a flurry of email regarding both the good and bad. With that in mind, I'd like to set the record straight on a few things:

Let's talk Septa cars first (as they are the point of most contention). We were told when we ordered the Comets that all seating was 2X3 seating. We weren't told that one of the 3 wide seats was in effect a "jumpseat", nor were we told that the ends of the car were 2X2 with nothing but paneling to look at. We were told this and that the capacity of the cars was 130 people and we booked it as such. When we got to the platform and saw these, we were shocked at what we got and had we known ahead of time the situation, we would have not booked the cars to capacity. For that I apologise.

The dinette we got from Amtrak (for those who weren't on the trip) was half tables and half business car seats (1X2 configuration). We were told by Amtrak that our cafe car would be an all table car. The folks in the business class seats all paid the same price as everyone else and most were people who had some kind of medical request or had been seated in rows that did not exist in the Comets (due to the seating at either end of the Comet cars). The table section was also filled with these folks.

The raffle was cancelled due to the weather. I talked with Bennett Levin and we agreed not to do it partly because of the gaurantee of getting soaked but also because the rain created a slippery condition which made it unsafe.


Which brings us to the subject of compensation. Before any talk can begin about refunds etc, the Board of the CRHS (of which I am a director) is going to meet and discuss how best to handle this. I will keep people updated as is appropriate.

Finally, this brings us to next time. There will be a next time. I can't release our plans for the next one. I can tell you there will NOT be ANY Septa equipment on the next trip. Period. I will also say that we may obtain cars from other agencies (NJT, MARC, etc) but they will be priced and labeled accordingly (most likely a class seperation 1st class, Coach Class, Base Class, Etc).

The learning curve on this has been big for us. As we've never run a trip before, we weren't totally sure what to expect. Now that we've gotten one under our belt, we've got a better handle on things and the mistakes of this trip will not be allowed to happen again. The CRHS accostomed to putting on a first rate show (ask anyone about Conrail Days, our Conventions, etc) and we were also disappointed with the problems we encountered.

I will post more info on this situation as appropriate but please feel free to post other questions here or email me directly at [email protected]

Thanks!
Russ Swinnerton
Onboard Services Manager
Why have any classes at all on these trips? No one would have even brought this up if it were all septa coaches or all amfleet equipment. Long as everyone who paid is afforded the same ride and same accomedations.
The access to lavatories is what really threw me over the edge. Especially in Harrisburg. I had to use up half of the 10 minutes just to be able to move up far enough from my septa coach to get off the train. Silly as this may sound, majority of us on these trips are over 55, so lavatory access is kind of important, without getting too specific.
  by Bobby S
 
WOW... I can concur about the gripes and even add a few of my own. I am glad CRHS is listening because I DEF want another trip!!! Maybe down the CSX line crossing over the Port Road and Susquehanna River!! (hint hint)

Overall trip was excellent!!! Weather terrible unfortunately... PA system should have been tested! Would love to see this routing again except in BETTER weather!!! LOL

Now for my observations... Please comment

1) I agree that SEPTA comet riders got shafted... No more of those and I saw the promise of that in a reply from a CRHS official on the previous post.

2) BOX LUNCH!! Was nice to get one and asked what kind I would like prior to the trip but please DO NOT!!! put Mayo on the sandwiches as many people "might NOT like it" as I can attest to. Packets of toppings can be had for minimal cost I am sure!!!

Also the LUNCHES should have been handed out further into the trip. This forced many people to buy more food which might or might not have been the game plan...

3) The Cafe Car should have been described prior to the trip as "CRHS stocks their own". I was kinda disappointed I couldn't get Amtrak offerings. A beer and hot sandwich would have been nice but I am saying NOTHING was mentioned about the self stocked car.

4) Regarding seating, I was in the first car also and "rode backwards" Honestly this sucked to put it nicely. I think a mention of "possible backwards seating" should be used in some form of information.

5) I was actually amazed at the number of riders that came on the trip. I was thinking more in the 300 family. Anyway the 1st class cars were off limits but I think most people would have loved to have been able to at least "walk thru" them. Maybe PRIOR to the trip.

6) There should be personnel at the bottom of the escalator to keep people moving as there was almost an incident with people stopping after they got off. Especially with the elderly and handicapped.

If I think of more I guess I will post. Awesome trip CRHS!!! Hope to see more in the NEAR future.
  by shadyjay
 
Here's my pics from the trip...

http://picasaweb.google.com/shadyjayvt/ ... ober172009#


I really enjoyed it. And after being a part of several "first time ever" excursions, I know the problems/issues that can arise. Best thing to do is learn from the mistakes. Noone is perfect.

Now just waiting for the "chasers" to post their pics... can't believe I haven't seen any yet!
  by Tri-State Tom
 
RDG -
Why have any classes at all on these trips? No one would have even brought this up if it were all septa coaches or all amfleet equipment. Long as everyone who paid is afforded the same ride and same accomedations.
Mr. Swinnerton can address this himself but with respects, have you ever been involved in arranging a trip like this ? Your comments suggest not. Ever think to wonder why great trips like this one don't occur more often ?

There's a tad of economics in play with crew costs, equipment rental not to mention weeks of planning/logistics plus a teensy bugger of a problem called Liability Insurance. Premium seating in private/luxury coaches ( 3 of 4 owned by Mr. Levin, Gawd Bless Him ! ) put a day-long trip like this in the 'black'. And if Bennett Levin wasn't the great railfan that he is ( see his Pennsy E8A's ) and didn't have the reputation, trust and working relations with CSX, Septa, NS, Amtrak and NJTransit, trips like this one would never EVER run.
  by RDGFan40
 
Tri-State Tom wrote:RDG -

Mr. Swinnerton can address this himself but with respects, have you ever been involved in arranging a trip like this ? Your comments suggest not. Ever think to wonder why great trips like this one don't occur more often ?

There's a tad of economics in play with crew costs, equipment rental not to mention weeks of planning/logistics plus a teensy bugger of a problem called Liability Insurance. Premium seating in private/luxury coaches ( 3 of 4 owned by Mr. Levin, Gawd Bless Him ! ) put a day-long trip like this in the 'black'. And if Bennett Levin wasn't the great railfan that he is ( see his Pennsy E8A's ) and didn't have the reputation, trust and working relations with CSX, Septa, NS, Amtrak and NJTransit, trips like this one would never EVER run.
Yes I have.
  by BlockLine_4111
 
Bobby S wrote:Overall trip was excellent!!! Weather terrible unfortunately... PA system should have been tested! Would love to see this routing again except in BETTER weather!!! LOL
Regardless of the weather, the trip was awesome, just be glad it didn't pour too much down in Perryville.
Bobby S wrote:3) The Cafe Car should have been described prior to the trip as "CRHS stocks their own". I was kinda disappointed I couldn't get Amtrak offerings. A beer and hot sandwich would have been nice but I am saying NOTHING was mentioned about the self stocked car.
I grabbed a cold Sams on the regional back to Newark Penn Station.
Bobby S wrote:4) Regarding seating, I was in the first car also and "rode backwards" Honestly this sucked to put it nicely. I think a mention of "possible backwards seating" should be used in some form of information.
We were in coach "A" all the way up by the locos. I can't complain, I thought we made out well as far as seating assigned.
Bobby S wrote:5) Anyway the 1st class cars were off limits but I think most people would have loved to have been able to at least "walk thru" them. Maybe PRIOR to the trip.
A guided "look-see" would have been nice, just in & out.
Bobby S wrote:6) There should be personnel at the bottom of the escalator to keep people moving as there was almost an incident with people stopping after they got off.
Luckily nobody was hurt.

Overall a great trip, hats off and a round of drinks to all involved in making his happen!!
  by Tri-State Tom
 
RDG -
Yes I have.
Then you should know better on the economics of a trip like this, right ?
  by rswinnerton
 
To answer the question of "why have different classes of service", Amtrak, with the best will in the world doesn't have an unlimited supply of cars. Our origional intent was to have an all Amtrak consist (plus PVs), however we found out only just recently that many cars were on another excursion, including many NYC and PHL protect cars. We also found out that if not for the speedy intervention of Eric Levin, Amtrak planned to short us 1 Amfleet car due to minor problems with it. Boy, wouldn't THAT have been a giant mess!

The economics of the trip coupled with the lack of available Amtrak cars basically forced us into a commuter car situation. Its a situation that has cost our group dearly. Although when all said and done, we did end up with a "cash surplus" (can't call it a profit), it was nowhere as nice as any of us thought it would be. I'm not going into specific numbers, but the Septa cars were less expensive to lease for the day, however it cost us dearly to insure them. So much infact that it TRIPLED our insurance premium. The insurance on 1 of those Septas was more than the E8s, and Mr Levin's PVs COMBINED! When you figure that, along with the terrible PR firestorm the overcrowding created, the trip was really not that beneficial to us. I would guess that if we were to weigh "cash surplus" vs. Negative publicity, we've broken even.

There are some bright spots though. Out of the 132 emails I've received on the trip over the past 3 days, about 1/3 were very posative and complimentary (not all from Amfleet cars either!). Most of the rest contained constructive criticism with maybe only 5 or so threatening to do evil things to my person or telling me where to put the Septa cars (no more details needed, I hope...).

My group is also compiling a database of things we need to improve on for next time. Working sound systems, moderate narration, free trip guides with the tickets, and better car descriptions are at the top of the list. Not saying we'll make everyone happy. Afterall, out of 800+ riders someone will be upset about something, but we can and will do better.

Russ Swinnerton