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Western Railroad Discussion > Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line


Date: 08/02/21 15:51
Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: webmaster

We finished our first month on the Monterey Branch Line and this past weekend we sold out every trip and had standby customers hoping for a no-show so they could have a car. Business has been growing by 25-40% per weekend. Next weekend we added additional tours that should temporarily satisfy demand. Running this many people out here is tough without facilities.  We use a large battery pack made by Jackery that provides power for our computer, credit card machine, and printer. We use a t-mobile hot spot for our internet service so we can collect bookings real time.

1.  I never thought it was possible, but the handcars are beginning to shine the rails.
2.  One of our handcar signs.  Sure, they are not railroad signs, but people recognize highway signs and they are kind of fun along the right-of-way.
3.  We finally got Mason a battery powered public address so he doesn't have to scream his safety briefings before each tour. Our early tours carried a few dozen participants, but now we are carrying full tours.  People don't listen well, but thankfully the handcars have a good bumper system. We also slowed the downhill sections to 8 mph to avoid accidents in the event people bump, which they do.

We learned early on to look people over and sort them by abilities. People in good physcial condition are assigned a handcar to the front, and those that are not are placed towards the rear. We usually have 2 or 3 handcars on every trip that pump up the hills as if they were downhill sections.  I will run the lead MT19 at 10 mph and they keep up over the route just fine.  Then there is often a few in the rear that crawl up at the grades at 3 mph and sometimes need an occasional help from one of our tour guides.

 

Todd Clark
Canyon Country, CA
Trainorders.com









Date: 08/02/21 16:01
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: MojaveBill

Love that sgn!

Bill Deaver
Mojave, CA



Date: 08/02/21 16:12
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: jst3751

Congrats on a continuing success.



Date: 08/02/21 16:22
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: markmcal

My wife and I have been thinking about a post-Covid trip, this might be it .. if we can get a reasonable rental car at San Jose.

Mark
Austin TX



Date: 08/02/21 17:05
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: Ritzville

Happy everything is going so well on your first Summer!! Great work!

Larry



Date: 08/02/21 17:11
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: Alco251

Terrific news, Todd, and please give your talented son a high-five for me. Assume word-of-mouth is attracting more patrons? How are souvenir sales?

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/21 17:12 by Alco251.



Date: 08/02/21 18:04
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: webmaster

Alco251 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Terrific news, Todd, and please give your talented
> son a high-five for me. Assume word-of-mouth is
> attracting more patrons? How are souvenir sales?
>

Word of mouth  builds weekly.  We ask everyone how they heard about us, and about 1/4 is word of mouth. 

We have some neat items including mugs, diecast keychains, shirts, hats, and canvas bags. Souvenir sales are interesting in they seem to follow cultural lines.  Asian cultures love the experience and that is probably most of the people coming out.   Generally, they don't buy souviners.  We have some people that will buy $100 in merchandise, they buy everything we have, but that is occasional.    I don't know if the merchanise is worth it because we sell maybe $200 a day in it, requires a 2nd person to assist at checkin time when most people buy, then I had to get addition liability insurance to cover the sales.  As we sell out trips we find it gets crazy in the half hour before the next trip because we have 50 people coming in from a trip, and 50 people checking in for the next trip.  

 

Todd Clark
Canyon Country, CA
Trainorders.com



Date: 08/02/21 18:09
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: mapboy

I like those signs, too.  Can't help but think this handcar operation will look good on any resume Mason submits.

mapboy



Date: 08/02/21 23:18
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: coach

Look at all the interest in riding those rails, on handcars!  Now imagine if people could ride a real train from the Bay Area to Monterey's Bay Aquarium.  The train would be very popular.  The county folks down there have no clue how to take advantage of that ROW to serve the public good.  

I'm happy this operation is doing so well.  Maybe it might provoke a bigger discussion of a bigger use of the rail line.



Date: 08/03/21 08:00
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: 2-10-2

My wife, daughter, and son-in-law (they live temporarily in Monterey, he's in the Defense Language School learning Russian) rode the Clark's latest venture Saturday with the 1 PM group. Great to see Todd, Mason, and Donnalee after many years.
We took the lead car, and I will say it is a bit of a workout. There's two climbs - the first 1/4 mile as shown in the photo, the second is roughly 3/4 mi to the apex of the balloon track where you wait for everyone to regroup. That's the photo location.
We had perfect weather, upper 60s and sunny.
If you have the chance to do this, it's well worth your time to take part in a rare chance to ride a fantastic bit of machinery on rare miles!

2-10-2
 




Date: 08/03/21 08:05
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: zr1rob

Are you leasing the track? How about insurance? Dont get me wrong, this is a great idea - maybe your experience in the business side of things can be used on other moribund lines.



Date: 08/03/21 08:13
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: webmaster

zr1rob Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Are you leasing the track? How about insurance?
> Dont get me wrong, this is a great idea - maybe
> your experience in the business side of things can
> be used on other moribund lines.

We have a short term lease for the branch line. We have insurance that is provided by a carrier specializing in adventure type tour activities such as snow mobiling, rock climbing, river rafting, etc. 

Todd Clark
Canyon Country, CA
Trainorders.com



Date: 08/03/21 13:24
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: zr1rob

I'm wondering if you could buy/rent/lease some surplus roadrailer equipment and give an air conditioned ride to the patrons?



Date: 08/03/21 14:31
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: mapboy

zr1rob Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm wondering if you could buy/rent/lease some
> surplus roadrailer equipment and give an air
> conditioned ride to the patrons?

The handcars are for an outdoor activity in a cool temperature area next to the ocean.  The average Monterey August day is under 70 degrees.  In July, the hottest day was 71 degrees.  Adding an A/C ride would bring in very little new business, adds complexity and the expense of more equipment.

mapboy



Date: 08/04/21 15:59
Re: Recent photos from the Monterey Branch Line
Author: GN599

From the sign to the handcars I love it all! Looks like a great time, mark me up!



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