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Date: 11/07/12 14:45
Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: eee

Last Friday we inaugurated Pullman service between Chicago and New Orleans. Here are a few photos of the ribbon-cutting portion of the event.

The first photo shows the train, featuring ex-Illinois Central observation car 3310 "Pontchartrain Club" (formerly Mark "Beaubien") which did actually run on the Panama Limited for a time. The Iowa Pacific logo (trademark filed with USPTO) is used in place of a drumhead, but there will eventually be a drumhead. We now have a total of 8 painted, Amtrak approved cars, but two are still receiving interior upgrades. The intent is for a five-car set to be the normal consist, but since we are paying for a second locomotive, we can handle more if there is a larger group, as there was on the inaugural. It's nice to have spares!

The second photo shows the Pullman staff. That's me with the top hat... Not all of these Conductors, Porters, Chefs, Stewards and Waiters go on each trip, but they were all there for the ribbon-cutting event, including the General Manager, at my left, and the Superintendent, at my far right. The porters look great in their blue platform coats, discontinued by Pullman in later years.

The third photo shows the actual ribbon cutting, with Senior Pullman Conductor Jody Moore on my left, and Porter Tony Truss on my right.

I know many are curious about the economics. Is this going to last? Why does it cost so much? Actually, the lowest price accommodation, the upper berth (it's lower because it's higher) is only $500 one-way. The upper berths in Colorado Pine are quite comfortable, and all food and beverages are included, so it's good value. Lower berths are $800 in the same car, which was built in 1953, one of the most modern postwar Pullmans.

But we do have to sell beds to make this work, and we are selling through consolidators, such as AAA or AARP, through travel agents both domestic and international, as well as directly through the website. We are working on partnerships with cruise lines and especially with the American Queen Steamboat Company. The basic price point of $975 per person double occupancy in a bedroom compares favorably with the Venice-Simplon Orient Express current pricing of $3,300 for what is also a one-night trip. We are slightly higher than the Rocky Mountaineer one-day trip.

While we announced both New Orleans and New York, we have elected to focus on Chicago-New Orleans, and on getting the cars and service right. Our team has learned a lot in the first few weeks of operation, and our goal is to be Best In Class. That will, frankly, take some time to achieve because each trip brings new opportunities for learning, which our talented people are soaking up. So, while we might run some special trips in other lanes, look for us to focus on New Orleans. It's a great destination, food, activities, sports, people.

While there are some whiners, most of the participants in TO genuinely want trains to succeed, and want the new Pullman service to succeed. Thanks for that, and I will answer all questions anyone asks in this thread.

I am thrilled to be privileged to be part of reviving Pullman service, using Pullman cars (and others), the Pullman rule book, and with a great group of people who are as passionate about Pullman as me.

Please come travel with us, and tell us what we need to improve, even if you can only take an upper berth. But if you come with your sweetie, the master room is worth it!

Ed Ellis
President
The Pullman Sleeping Car Company, LLC



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/08/12 02:16 by eee.








Date: 11/07/12 14:53
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: eee

Another photo of interest. We are leasing a Budd-built baggage-dormitory car, Sunset Harbor. This car was "wrapped" not painted. We will see how the wrap holds up, but it looks great. This photo was taken while the wrapping was underway, but it now has full lettering.




Date: 11/07/12 15:11
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: ATSF3751

eee Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Another photo of interest. We are leasing a
> Budd-built baggage-dormitory car, Sunset Harbor.
> This car was "wrapped" not painted. We will see
> how the wrap holds up, but it looks great. This
> photo was taken while the wrapping was underway,
> but it now has full lettering.


Ex-SP Sunset Limited 1950. Looks good.



Date: 11/07/12 15:12
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: ATSF3751

eee Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Last Friday we inaugurated Pullman service between
> Chicago and New Orleans. Here are a few photos of
> the ribbon-cutting portion of the event.
>
> The first photo shows the train, featuring
> ex-Illinois Central observation car 3310
> "Pontchartrain Club" (formerly Mark "Beaubien")
> which did actually run on the Panama Limited for a
> time. The Iowa Pacific logo (trademark filed with
> USPTO)is used in place of a drumhead, but there
> will eventually be a drumhead. We now have a total
> of 8 painted, Amtrak approved cars, but two are
> still receiving interior upgrades. The intent is
> for a five-car set to be the normal consist, but
> since we are paying for a second locomotive, we
> can handle more if there is a larger group, as
> there was on the inaugural. It's nice to have
> spares!
>
> The second photo shows the Pullman staff. That's
> me with the top hat... Not all of these
> Conductors, Porters, Chefs, Stewards and Waiters
> go on each trip, but they were all there for the
> ribbon-cutting event, including the General
> Manager, at my left, and the Superintendent, at my
> far right. The porters look great in their blue
> platform coats, discontinued by Pullman in later
> years.
>
> The third photo shows the actual ribbon cutting,
> with Senior Pullman Conductor Jody Moore on my
> left, and Porter Tony Truss on my right.
>
> I know many are curious about the economics. Is
> this going to last? Why does it cost so much?
> Actually, the lowest price accommodation, the
> upper berth (it's lower because it's higher) is
> only $500 one-way. The upper berths in Colorado
> Pine are quite comfortable, and all food and
> beverages are included, so it's good value. Lower
> berths are $800 in the same car, which was built
> in 1953, one of the most modern postwar Pullmans.
>
> But we do have to sell beds to make this work, and
> we are selling through consolidators, such as AAA
> or AARP, through travel agents both domestic and
> international, as well as directly through the
> website. We are working on partnerships with
> cruise lines and especially with the American
> Queen Steamboat Company. The basic price point of
> $975 per person double occupancy in a bedroom
> compares favorably with the Venice-Simplon Orient
> Express current pricing of $3,300 for what is also
> a one-night trip. We are slightly higher than the
> Rocky Mountaneer one-day trip.
>
> While we announced both New Orleans and New York,
> we have elected to focus on Chicago-New Orleans,
> and on getting the cars and service right. Our
> team has learned a lot in the first few weeks of
> operation, and our goal is to be Best In Class.
> That will, frankly, take some time to achieve
> because each trip brings new opportunities for
> learning, which our talented people are soaking
> up. So, while we might run some special trips in
> other lanes, look for us to focus on New Orleans.
> It's a great destination, food, activities,
> sports, people.
>
> While there are some whiners, most of the
> participants in TO genuinely want trains to
> succeed, and want the new Pullman service to
> succeed. Thanks for that, and I will answer all
> questions anyone asks in this thread.
>
> I am thrilled to be privileged to be part of
> reviving Pullman service, using Pullman cars (and
> others), the Pullman rule book, and with a great
> group of people who are as passionate about
> Pullman as me.
>
> Please come travel with us, and tell us what we
> need to improve, even if you can only take an
> upper berth. But if you come with your sweetie,
> the master room is worth it!
>
> Ed Ellis
> President
> The Pullman Sleeping Car Company, LLC


I wish you best luck and success. First reports are very favorable.



Date: 11/07/12 15:50
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: Genesis803

Ed, I'm a part time travel agent in a host agency of over 4,000 agents. We have a forum on our agency site for agents to share information, tips, etc. I was pleased to see the travel agent section on your website, and that you pay commission. I shared the link to your site with our other agents, many of whom had heard about your company at trade shows. Don't forget about travel agents which are alive and well and cater to higher end customers and those looking for unique experiences like this. I wish you the best of luck!



Date: 11/07/12 15:53
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: co614

Great pics Ed. Based upon my just doing a round trip with them Chicago-New Orleans my bet is that they will stay the course and make this work. It's probably true that the weakest link here is their dependency upon Amtrak, with all the issues therein that we're all too familiar with.

Best wishes for great success !!

Ross Rowland



Date: 11/07/12 16:21
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: jp1822

Yes, truly, the best of luck with making this a success. We all know that Amtrak needs more capacity, especially in sleeper class, and some sort of revival/service advancement in rail travel in general. Hopeully this is one catalyst that might help turn the tide.

I am on the East Coast and would jump out an opportunity if it were offered between NYC and Chicago. However, I certainly understand your concerns and issues to "get it right" in one market. But please don't give up on anything before trying out the potential market that is currently lacking between Chicago and NYP via Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (as a result of the loss of the Three Rivers). Your service would fill a huge void Amtrak left behind there!

All the best in your endeavors and hopefully expansion. I can only imagine how much this is costing and the potential coordination/aggravation that Amtrak may or may not be throwing your way!

Good luck!



Date: 11/07/12 17:15
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: SamRae

Great pictures, Ed, but I didn't recognize you in the top hat... Best wishes for continued success...

G.F.Payne



Date: 11/07/12 17:33
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: palmland

I'm looking forward to trying this service. It looks to be everything Amtrak is not: Great service done consistently, in superbly maintained equipment, with lounge and meals on a par with a fine country club rather than Denny's. I suspect this is a case of you will get what you pay for.

I am curious as to why roomettes ('real' ones) are not being offered. I know Colorado Pine has them and they seem much better suited to this type of service. With their cutaway beds, there is room to stand while dressing. I love the old sections, but it seems they would to be better suited for use by the crew. I would imagine only a few railfans would go for the upper berth.

I'm also curious about the 8 PM Chicago departure. Is there early boarding for cocktails and dinner?

Good luck and I hope the economics work. It would be great if the Pullman Co. could live up to its namesake and offer Pullman service, including meals, on all Amtrak trains.



Date: 11/07/12 17:46
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: BuddPullman

Ed,

This is great news. Best wishes for you and your team!

Hubert



Date: 11/07/12 18:05
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: eee

Roomettes will be offered shortly. One way in a roomette is priced at $900, lower berth at $800, upper berth at $500. A limited number of bedrooms are being sold as single bedrooms at $1275. So there are plenty of accommodations for single travelers.

Boarding is at 730pm, and our policy is that the lounge and dining car are open from the time the train is open for boarding. First dinner seating is at 8pm upon departure, but if you want to start earlier, they will arrange it. Personally, I like sitting in the club or dome car as the train pulls out of Chicago, backs around to Halsted Street, and then passes south of the city with spectacular views of downtown and Soldier Field, then go for the 830 or 900 seating. It's late for dinner, yes, but Amtrak is trying to serve Memphis at a reasonable hour, which is something the Panama didn't have to do.

palmland Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm looking forward to trying this service. It
> looks to be everything Amtrak is not: Great
> service done consistently, in superbly maintained
> equipment, with lounge and meals on a par with a
> fine country club rather than Denny's. I suspect
> this is a case of you will get what you pay for.
>
> I am curious as to why roomettes ('real' ones) are
> not being offered. I know Colorado Pine has them
> and they seem much better suited to this type of
> service. With their cutaway beds, there is room to
> stand while dressing. I love the old sections, but
> it seems they would to be better suited for use by
> the crew. I would imagine only a few railfans
> would go for the upper berth.
>
> I'm also curious about the 8 PM Chicago departure.
> Is there early boarding for cocktails and dinner?
>
> Good luck and I hope the economics work. It would
> be great if the Pullman Co. could live up to its
> namesake and offer Pullman service, including
> meals, on all Amtrak trains.



Date: 11/07/12 18:07
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: eee

Ross -

Thanks for your support, and it was great to see you on the train.

I am optimistic that Amtrak will support us from this point forward, and will enjoy the revenue support that we bring with this train.

Ed

co614 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Great pics Ed. Based upon my just doing a round
> trip with them Chicago-New Orleans my bet is that
> they will stay the course and make this work. It's
> probably true that the weakest link here is their
> dependency upon Amtrak, with all the issues
> therein that we're all too familiar with.
>
> Best wishes for great success !!
>
> Ross Rowland



Date: 11/07/12 19:01
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: MH2198

Hard to believe the Sunset Harbor was hauled around by NKP 765 only a few short months ago...

Are there any plans to offer this service elsewhere on the Amtrak system? Would be pretty cool seeing these cars on the rear of the Pennsylvanian. I think one of the dining cars on that train would be great!

-Mike



Date: 11/07/12 19:36
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: cashfare

Best of luck Ed, we are all behind this operation. Equipment looks beautiful.



Date: 11/07/12 19:47
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: jp1822

MH2198 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hard to believe the Sunset Harbor was hauled
> around by NKP 765 only a few short months ago...
>
> Are there any plans to offer this service
> elsewhere on the Amtrak system? Would be pretty
> cool seeing these cars on the rear of the
> Pennsylvanian. I think one of the dining cars on
> that train would be great!
>
> -Mike

Couldn't agree more. One step at a time it seems though!



Date: 11/08/12 01:42
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: eee

Mike

Right now we are working to get New Orleans right. But we are interested in other lanes down the road.

Ed

MH2198 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hard to believe the Sunset Harbor was hauled
> around by NKP 765 only a few short months ago...
>
> Are there any plans to offer this service
> elsewhere on the Amtrak system? Would be pretty
> cool seeing these cars on the rear of the
> Pennsylvanian. I think one of the dining cars on
> that train would be great!
>
> -Mike



Date: 11/08/12 03:50
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: mp51w

Ed: You certainly seem to have the midas touch! Ideally, an earlier departure from Chicago would help market your service. That price for the upper isn't tooooo bad. I just might have to try it out. Thanks for all your efforts in the rail passenger arena.



Date: 11/08/12 06:27
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: shoretower

My wife and I spent the first night of our honeymoon on the "American European Express" between PHL and Chicago. I eagerly await your start of East Coast service.

I'll never forget having an after-dinner drink in obs "Sandy Creek" as we went through Big Bend Tunnel on the C&O. The name "Pullman" means a great deal to me, and I'm glad you've revived it. I grew up traveling Pullman between New York and Florida.



Date: 11/08/12 07:12
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: hogtrain

Are you selling any day seats - Memphis to NOL and return??? I remember you riding my car,the "CYNTHIA" from Chicago to the Greenbriar many years ago. Hogtrain



Date: 11/08/12 07:19
Re: Pullman Rail Journeys ribbon cutting event
Author: NGotwalt

Ed,
Looking forward to I hope someday getting in a Lower Birth at Harrisburg and going to Chicago, if you ever start running that way. I have yet to travel in something that beats a section, and I doubt there are many people my age (29) who even knows what a section is. Best of luck.

Cheers,
Nick Gotwalt

P.S. I love the hat, I actually have one just like it (well mine is black).



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