• Why don’t Class Is have more activities for the general public?

  • For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.
For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

  by Nightjet
 
Class I railroads are invisible to the general public. Regular people may see a Class I freight train every now and then, but they have no interaction with them.

Question: as long as activities for the general public, such as excursion trains, at least break even, why don’t Class Is have more of them, for publicity?

I would think that having a positive public image could be an asset for Class Is. Good memories of, say, how fun that UP excursion was could help create a positive public image. But why are Class Is apparently satisfied with being invisible?
  by RandallW
 
A few things:
  • Excursion trains are expensive. IIRC NS stopped running them because the insurance premiums got too expensive. They are also disruptive to the Class I's customers (freight shippers, Amtrak, and commuter railroads).
  • I think they all run TV advertising, mostly focused on things like how many trucks they keep off roads (even though it may not feel like it in some traffic) and other ways shippers could be "green" by using rail.
  • My impression is that utilities are in a position where they only make news when things don't work or cause friction (delays at crossings in the case of railroads), and from the perspective of most Americans, freight rail is a utility and an obstruction, not something they use.
  • To judge from recent reporting in Railway Age, freight rail customers are more dissatisfied than satisfied with the Class Is, to the point of bringing actions against them at the STB, and would likely be angry if they felt the Class Is were distracted from solving their problems by running activities for non-customers (i.e., excursion trains).
  by Railjunkie
 
100% because they do not want

A The headache of planning of such
B The insurance to cover said trip

When the U.P. runs their steam specials all I see is folks with cameras who have to get the "perfect" shot standing in the gauge or along the right of way in the foul. It takes a lot of manpower to makes these things happen. Today's railroads like to make as much $$$$ with as few hands on deck as possible.

Granted these were not excursions but were to instances I have had the opportunity to be involved with.
First, I was lucky enough to be the engineer to take the Hickory Creek up the Hudson River after she had bee restored to her 20th Century Limited two tone grey glory. Being a bit of a NYCRR buff it was cool, not on that trip there were people everywhere on the tracks standing in the middle of crossings hanging off rock cuts all for that "perfect" shot. Nothing like coming around a corner at 80mph to see a moron in the gauge with his tripod and Nikon.

Second the U.P. OCS came through my area 5 ish years ago and my son and I went out to grab a few photos. Went to a crossing and ran into a very cranky CSX cop who had likely been on duty since Syracuse. He has already approached a bunch of folks and pointed to a spot which they did not like. Take it or leave. Told my son guess that is the spot. While walking over he approached me and we started talking said I looked familiar, maybe I dont know terrible with names. Told him I was a railroad employee and worked for Amtrak he asked me if I knew So and So to which one happened to be my RFE. The few moments for him to talk to me and "smoke and joke" was all he needed. Never made it to the designated spot just took a photo from car and drove a few miles to a bridge and grabbed a few more.

Rail buffs can be quite hard to deal with and no one likes to constantly argue over and over again on the same topic
  by Nightjet
 
Thanks, everyone.

Given the cost and hassle of excursion trains, why do some short lines run them? For example, I see that a shortline in Knoxville, Tennessee runs regularly-scheduled (I think) excursion trains, called the Three Rivers Rambler or something. Why wouldn’t Norfolk Southern do that if a shortline does?
  by scratchyX1
 
Nightjet wrote: Sun Jan 01, 2023 5:32 pm Thanks, everyone.

Given the cost and hassle of excursion trains, why do some short lines run them? For example, I see that a shortline in Knoxville, Tennessee runs regularly-scheduled (I think) excursion trains, called the Three Rivers Rambler or something. Why wouldn’t Norfolk Southern do that if a shortline does?
There is also a class 2 in central PA that runs regular excursions. I think the insurance costs are more for mainlines than secondary ones.
  by eolesen
 
The Knoxville excursions run on a line with very little revenue traffic (maybe a couple trains per week?), so there's no potential for interference. They're earning some money on an otherwise empty line.

The Class 1's have very few lines where they could run excursions without interfering with their cash register.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by RandallW
 
Regularly scheduled services (even if just out-and-back excursion services) do not get the crowds of photographers that irregular excursion services (or even non-excursion steam moves) do. Those photographers are likely the major insurance risk.

I did forget something earlier: Class Is generally need to implement PTC on their mainlines while regional roads generally do not (I think the question of which routes need PTC is based on speed of traffic and maybe types and volumes of traffic). PTC is very difficult to retrofit into steam locomotives. The reason UP always runs a diesel behind their steam engines is that the diesel is providing PTC protection (although UP is expected to fit one of their steam engines with PTC eventually). I understand that NW 611 is now captive at Strasbourg for the same reason.
  by Railjunkie
 
When U.P. was running the Big Boy last year I think they had some form of I-ETMS set up in the cab. I do remember seeing it in a head end video. Now whether it was getting its info from the diesel IDK.