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Steam & Excursion > Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans


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Date: 08/05/09 12:55
Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: Emmo213

I read this on another forum but figured I'd post it here also. This was copied and pasted from the 261.com forum and (AFAIK) posted by Judy Sandberg. The post can be found here: http://261.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=61

"It is amazing to me the amount of calls I receive regarding when is it coming thru ?? and what time it will be there? They do not give me inbetween stops and locations. The railfan community bi---- and crys when these engins go away and yet does nothing to support the operation with ticket sales. We have a small handfull of railfans that buy a ticket (and I do mean small) and do there photographing but believe me it is a small amount. I am very disappointed in the amount of suppport from the railfan community. Our sales from Durand to Chicago are Premium Class 18 we have room for 75, our coach class is 60 we have room for 250. WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE THINKING? The question is why should we rebuild the 261 if the majority of railfans only take pictures. 261 or 4449 does not run on kodak film. I have seen long lines of cars pacing the trains but this does not contribute to the re-build. Ticket wil be on sale at each station stop in Durand Chicago and Milw. IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT THESE OPERATION BUY A TICKET TO RIDE. I would appreciate your comments."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/09 13:49 by Emmo213.



Date: 08/05/09 13:21
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: kenedmier

A couple things come to mind, the trip was on a Friday and was one-way. Durand is not an easy place to fly into and make a one-way trip from. All the day trips were sold-out at Trainfest, so there is demand for train rides behind steam engines. The trip from Chicago had a bus return to Chicago which I know helped with ridership numbers. The trip from Minneapolis to Chicago was on a Saturday and has end pairs to get in and out off. I am assuming that portion sold very well.

I would love to take part of the trip as 4449 heads home, but it ids hard to go to some of the stations in Montana and I do not have the vacation time to take the whole week long trip.

Ken Edmier



Date: 08/05/09 13:30
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: needles_district

If Judy Sandberg feels that way, don't rebuild it and put it back in a museum, so everyone can see it. Some of these guys/gals think these steam engines are their own personal play thing and I should pay for them to play. Welcome to the real world. Me, Id rather watch it roll by, than be stuck in a car trying to get a photo out of the vestibule, with twenty other guys who won't move. Just my feelings.



Date: 08/05/09 13:41
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: nathansixchime

needles_district Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If they feel that way, don't rebuild it...

I doubt one forum poster means to represent the collective "they" in your statement.



Date: 08/05/09 13:42
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: Derecho

> ..."IF YOU
> WANT TO SUPPORT THESE OPERATION BUY A TICKET TO
> RIDE. I would appreciate your comments."

I did. It was well worth $120 to be able to take a couple of days to watch 4449 cross Michigan, and I even got the chance to actually use the ticket for part of the ride, though I wouldn't have minded a bit if I'd stayed on the ground the whole time.

It would have been nice to see some of these chase cars that had three or four people teaming up split up even a single coach ticket.



Date: 08/05/09 13:45
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: nathansixchime

And on second thought, who caters to the stereotypical "railfans" on a full-time basis anyway? They're not the target demographic, so why be disappointed or surprised by them? Kind of kicking a cheap horse here.



Date: 08/05/09 13:47
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: Emmo213

nathansixchime Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> needles_district Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > If they feel that way, don't rebuild it...
>
> I doubt one forum poster means to represent the
> collective "they" in your statement.

As far as I can tell, "they" is Judy Sandberg. I'll update the first post to reflect that.



Date: 08/05/09 13:48
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: TrevorHeath

This issue has been thrashed around the WORLD for the past 50 years....

There is no solution beyond providing something on the train that those not riding cannot access.

Photo run pasts in remote locations, dining, cab rides etc. Nothing that every operator is already aware of.


To me what is more annoying is people posting such comments and replies and hiding behind aliases.

Therein lies an issue as i'd suggest there is a group where the majority have their trouser pockets stitched up!

TH



Date: 08/05/09 13:56
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: daylightfan

Like Gordon Zimmerman has said locomotives run on fuel, water and MONEY!!!!



Date: 08/05/09 14:20
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: co614

I learned early on that railfans by and large are a VERY cheap lot!! Generally, the more serious the fan, the more critical&cheaper the fan. Anyone who has done any operations learns this early on. Its always been this way and always will be. As in anything there are of course exceptions to the rule. I'm grateful to have befriended a number of very generous steam lovers but they're definitly the exception, not the rule.

The Sandberg family has invested heavily over the last 15 years both in time and money to create a first class operation. They have earned the trust&respect of the Class 1's and Amtrak. This trust enabled Steve Sandberg to rescue the Daylights move to TF2009 when clearance issues threatened to kill it at the last minute. It is certainly understandable with what her family has invested to see how she would be miffed to see all those fans lineside and so few on board.

I'm sorry to say that I'm afraid that especially on ferry moves, that isn't going to change!!

IMHO-Ross Rowland



Date: 08/05/09 14:45
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: nathansixchime

Emmo213 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> nathansixchime Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > needles_district Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > If they feel that way, don't rebuild it...
> >
> > I doubt one forum poster means to represent the
> > collective "they" in your statement.
>
> As far as I can tell, "they" is Judy Sandberg.
> I'll update the first post to reflect that.

Thanks for the clarification. Considering that she has been one of the powerhouses behind the locomotive's success and financial prowess, the frustration is understandable, but that's why "railfans" don't entirely comprise the target audience or repeat customers. Steam operators, especially those who rely on costly mainline operation, have to begin to consider new and bigger ways to advertise and make impressions, which can be costly, too. What's a national television advertisement run these days?

TrainFestival was largely comprised of social media and internet marketing -- the radio and TV advertisements came in later during the blitz to increase awareness. Even though social media and the internet broadly expand awareness, you can still get pigeon-holed.

If the 4449's cross country trip and TrainFestival proved, it's that "trains" can appeal to anyone, anywhere, anytime -- the number of people gleefully taken by surprise and caught up in the storm who before were ignorant of the locomotive or the festival is palatable just in researching the news and blog items posted about the events. Even the 765's unannounced ferry move got plenty of play in local and social media after it occurred. Free publicity comes with time, but paid publicity isn't a bad place to start -- and even that can inspire the misers.



Date: 08/05/09 14:52
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: andersonb109

I agree with Judy 100%. I did my part by riding all the way from Portland to Battle Creek, MI first with the Silver Fleet spending nights on the train and then with the Friends of The 261 in the Super Dome. I was fortunate to be able to chase one day with a friend of mine who did so all the way from Portland to Minot, ND. He was one of the few who contributed financially for the privelage. Of course people can't be forced to do so and in some cases may not be able to affored to do so, but any contribution is better than nothing and if they can afford the gas they should be able to afford a contribution. As far as a one way move, Amtrak provides service to Durand although only once a day so an overnight in Chicago would have been necessary. In my case, for the eastbound I: drove to Battle Creek, left my car there, took Amtrak back to Dearborn, rented a car, drove home for the night, returned the rental car, taxi to DTW, flight to MSP, train to Chicago, overnight, then train to Battle Creek where my car was waiting to take me home. So it could be done if time allowed. On a one week photo charter to Germany last year, we had four individuals who paid NOTHING and followed the charter for several of the days. To make matters worse, they had been clients of the organizer in the past yet offered nothing in the way of payment. Obviously they could afford to fly to Germany so why not contribute something as they got many of the same shots we did showing up at as many of the runpasts as accessable by road.

Not hiding behind any handle;
Bruce Anderson
St. Clair Shores, MI



Date: 08/05/09 15:00
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: Wisconsinsteamfan

First of all, Judy and Frank and their family are the most hospitable people I've ever met. They are wonderful on the trips, and do everything they can to accommodate the passengers. I just want to say I agree with Judy. Unfortunately these trips on the SP4449 going to and coming from MI were not at a good time for us this year. However, we are putting together a group of people who will ride on the Fall Excursions. Riding the trains and paying for that privilege is certainly one thing that can help get "OUR" Milwaukee Road 261 back in service. There have been many people that we've talked to after the fact that didn't know anything about the trips, but would have ridden at least to Milwaukee or Chicago.


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Date: 08/05/09 15:03
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: train671

Sorry to see that so few folks were able to ride the ferry moves back to Minneapolis. It is a shame that has happened. Even in the best of times I know that when a steam trip has been put together there are a "ton" of folks who call and want to know all kinds of info about when the engine is leaving or being serviced and when asked if they bought tickets the answer is almost always the same, "I just wanted to get a pictue of it coming through my area." While everyone wants a picture of an "old beauty" coming thru their area it still takes lots of money and dedication to keep the trains moving especially these days. I will leave it up to those who could have rode the train and made a contribution as to why they couldn't. Perhaps there were very valid reasons but for the organizations who need money to keep this equipment going only paying passengers and donations make it work. I would also venture this opinion, it is very unlikely that any of us will EVER have the opportunity to ride behind the 4449 in the midwest every again so if you got a picture then enlarge it and frame it. I might also suggest that there are two additional chances to ride behind the 4449 and that would be in early October when the 4449 will be pulling two passenger trips from MSP down to La Crescent and back. Always a great trip and if you live in that area don't miss this opportunity. Lots of reasonably priced trips still available so cheer up Judy Sandberg and the "Friends of the 261" and consider taking a ride.



Date: 08/05/09 15:37
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: UPED

I was lucky to hear about the event early on so I would plan all the logistics. (rental cars were the biggest problem) I was on the Chicago to Durand train and the Thursday all day, both were premium tickets. I had a blast along with EVERYONE else! The SFRH&MS convention in Chicago was held just before the 4449 Chicago to Durand ride, it helped clinch the deal, two for one! I make an average amount of money and it really helped to spread the spending out a little over a couple of months. Airfare, hotel, and rental cars drained me to the last cent.

These times are tough, I would guess ridership on these special trains would be down 50% from a couple years ago when the economy was better. There are lots of things to consider when trying to "ride" these special trains to, like how to get back to your original starting place, hotels, food, etc. You also have to remember taking time off work or being away from family. The timing has to be considered to, do you go to the Train Fest or ride the train. Having a few days between makes this a hard decision.

Ed



Date: 08/05/09 15:47
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: OKTrainboys

I think the operators of mainline steam engine # (insert loco. of interest here) should get out there online and remind railfans frequently as to how they feel. The 261 folks posting on this issue are SPOT ON and the railfan community needs to hear it and take note! Note to these operators: EVEN -ONE- RUNBY JUSTIFIES RIDING AND THE TICKET PRICE. Railfans know that the one runby is MUCH easier said than done.....even a stated potential POSSIBILTY of one runby is a good thing.

During trainfest, it was great just standing next to a hot 4449, and I had just spent a lot of time chasing and riding behind her earlier in the month, but when I missed just that simple WHISTLE at 6PM on Sunday....marking the end of trainfest....was I depressed.....I was over at a food tent eating.....I think 4449 should have whistled once per hour.....maybe just not quite opening her all the way up :)

The point? A few fairly easy things will trip the trigger of the steam railfan and help get them to participate.


For the record I have ZERO complaints for any of the steam engine operators and will continue to ride, chase, buy stuff, and donate cash.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/09 16:00 by OKTrainboys.



Date: 08/05/09 15:57
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: howeld

It also needs to be considered that following trainfest People may be "trained" out or spent whatever disposable income was available. I had a limited funds and looked at the trips. I decided it was a better deal to ride the Ferry Move from Minneapolis to Chicago at around $150 for all day ride 400miles at 60mph than the all day trips at Train festival so thats what I did. On that move there were around 60 coach seats available. Now consider that with the ferry moves to Trainfest and the 4 day trips at the event a vast majority of people who had the means and the desire already rode. This isn't Nascar or an NFL game, the total number of people who would spend the money ride is very limited and most likely exhausted.



Date: 08/05/09 16:03
Railfans' (non-) support of steam preservation
Author: toledopatch

TrevorHeath Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This issue has been thrashed around the WORLD for
> the past 50 years....
>
> There is no solution beyond providing something on
> the train that those not riding cannot access.
>
> Photo run pasts in remote locations, dining, cab
> rides etc. Nothing that every operator is already
> aware of.

I wholeheartedly agree. I am not a big steam fan. Heck, I'm not really a big excursion fan. The biggest annoyance I've had when I have ridden excursions is that the chasers get to see a lot more of the train than I do. I am primarily a photographer, and the photo run-bys offered to the ticket holders too often are overcrowded and in poor locations. A friend of mine was on one of the 4449 Train Festival trips and said that was certainly the case there. While I concede that crowd control and availability of public property was probably the determining factor for where the run-bys were done -- it was the same place every day -- it's a disincentive to riding.

For the Train Festival, I bought a grounds ticket to support the cause, even though I did very little on the grounds. Mostly I was out chasing the mainline trips. Then I decided to buy seats on the upcoming doubleheader excursion on the first Saturday in October between Alma and Cadillac. I decided to do that because my wife loves steam trains and we'd have a fun time riding together. If they live up to the promise of providing good photo run-by spots that the chasers can't reach, that'll be a bonus.

What I certainly wouldn't be doing is pestering trip organizers for information about their trips without being a paying customer. That's just poor manners.



Date: 08/05/09 16:42
Re: Railfans' (non-) support of steam preservation
Author: zephyrus

The choice does not need to come down to riding or not riding. There is also the option to simply make some kind of donation to help keep these things running.

A number of railroad museums and excursion operators have decided that they can no longer be beholden to the railfans as many fans choose not to support their efforts financially. Many will not ride excursions, will find ways to photograph special closed photo sessions for free, will not attend paid events, etc. Not all, but enough where the "cheap" label mentioned above is now taken as a given. It does not help when some unabashed railfans are openly hostile to certain museums or operators and are the first to trash them and their efforts, yet will post photos of their pieces or be seen visiting or fanning their runs.

If you don't want to buy a ticket, then don't. But at least consider making some small donation to the cause or visiting the associated gift shop. And make a point of telling them you fanned the trip and would like to contribute to make sure it can continue.


Eugene Vicknair



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/09 17:56 by zephyrus.



Date: 08/05/09 16:58
Re: Friends of the 261 Disappointed in Railfans
Author: Mgoldman

co614 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I learned early on that railfans by and large are
> a VERY cheap lot!! Generally, the more serious the
> fan, the more critical&cheaper the fan.
> IMHO-Ross Rowland

To the contrary, the most serious of the bunch, and
even those with just a healthy interest in steam will
often sell out a steam PHOTO charter. With ticket
prices for "big steam", such as Pete Lerro's MILW #261,
PM #1225 charters, and those from John Craft, to name
only a few, the participants shelled out some serious
cash.

It goes to say, if you want to solicit funds from
photographers, you need to offer a photographic venue.

For the others, I can only again repeat, preach even,
make it known that your groups success and future
depends on sales AND DONATIONS.

MAKE IT EASY - MAKE IT OBVIOUS.

Put a donation box up. Put several up - all in secure
locations, of course - gift shops, admittance booths and
gates, ect. Do you think PBS would still be on air if
they didn't ask for donations and instead only relied on
a sense of good will??

Which supermarket raises the most funds for a cause - the
one that asks for a $1 or $5 donation at the check out or
the one that doesn't? Who raises more charitable donations,
the fast food drive in WITH the change box by the window
or the one without?

And - a favorite of mine - CHASER T's. Pay in advance, get
a shirt which not only supports the event but advertises
the need for support as well.

/Mitch
PM #1225 supporter and member.
NKP #765 supporter and member.
See my "brick(s" at the Nevada Northern (2), and the W&W(1).
ORHF supporter and more...

And one who frequently has to explain why I want a train
ticket to ride the trip that just returned!



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