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Steam & Excursion > Steam, the nuclear weapon


Date: 05/14/19 16:02
Steam, the nuclear weapon
Author: Copy19

 Back in my days on the job I liked to boast that the steam locomotives were the public relations department’s nuclear weapons.  Obviously that hasn’t changed.  I’m looking forward to following the rest of this epic trip here on TO.

John  Bromley - Omaha



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/14/19 18:04 by Copy19.



Date: 05/14/19 18:29
Re: Steam, the nuclear weapon
Author: Defective_Detector

Curious, why do railroads need public relations like this in 2019? I understand to some degree needing a PR team to cover accidents and wrecks, schmoozing the customers or buttering up government officials, but it's not like the average Joe can affect a railroad's bottom line.

What does UP gain from the tens of thousands seeing the Big Boy?

I'm not knocking it, I'm just genuinely curious how this kind of PR helps UP make money.

 



Date: 05/14/19 19:08
Re: Steam, the nuclear weapon
Author: TomG

Only Rail fans know the difference between a Big Boy and the Challenger. The public just likes the big steam choo choo, They haven't a clue what they are looking at. So yes you are correct, its steam and not particularly which steam that makes the impression.



Date: 05/14/19 19:37
Re: Steam, the nuclear weapon
Author: wpjones

John, To add to this, today we had just over 2200 visitors thru the Experience car in Rock Springs between 9:00 and 3:00. Thought that was pretty good for a Tuesday. Lots of interest in the History and modern railroading. Lots of people stayed long enough to really read all the info on the walls.
Steve



Date: 05/14/19 20:08
Re: Steam, the nuclear weapon
Author: Copy19

Railroads are subject to countless political jurisdictions, they have impacts, many negative, all over their service areas.  It helps to be good guys,

JB



Date: 05/15/19 06:07
Re: Steam, the nuclear weapon
Author: Frisco1522

I have to wonder what the souvenir sales would have been if they still sold them on the train.   Probably through the roof.



Date: 05/15/19 12:20
Re: Steam, the nuclear weapon
Author: howeld

Frisco1522 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have to wonder what the souvenir sales would
> have been if they still sold them on the
> train.   Probably through the roof.

They had a stand set up at Cheyenne and Ogden. Not sure of other areas. I spent $50 on a blanket and a 844 shot glass. Saw a ton of people wearing the hats. Safe to say sales were through the roof.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 05/15/19 14:19
Re: Steam, the nuclear weapon
Author: grizzledgary

Defective_Detector Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Curious, why do railroads need public relations
> like this in 2019? I understand to some degree
> needing a PR team to cover accidents and wrecks,
> schmoozing the customers or buttering up
> government officials, but it's not like the
> average Joe can affect a railroad's bottom line.
>
> What does UP gain from the tens of thousands
> seeing the Big Boy?
>
> I'm not knocking it, I'm just genuinely curious
> how this kind of PR helps UP make money.

Though railroads are typically not thought to be in the general public's consciousness of late they are still newsworthy but often in a negative way. In years past new equipment or services might be in the news and sometimes brought before the public for review or display in some manner. Today we usually only see something about the railroads mentioned if it involves a derailment of some kind or perhaps a grade crossing incident, particularly those involving a hazardous materials discharge or loss of life.  

As others have offered (and some will challenge...) steam still seems to make a difference in capturing the interest and imagination of most people, young or old, rail fan or not and nothing better serves to illustrate this than does the response to Union Pacific's restoration of #4014. While many of us are aware of the Big Boy's historical significance along with the timing of this trip and how it relates to the company's heritage it remains the sights, sounds and smells of such an impressive piece of machinery in operation that commands the attention of so many that otherwise would have no cause to view the Union Pacific Railroad in a favorable light.

While most every form of commercial transportation has those involved in public relations how many industries of any kind have something this compelling at their disposal to show the rest of the planet what they are about? The ability to witness something so dramatic operating over such distances in territory the company shares with both their customers and the public presents a show the aircraft, shipping and trucking carriers just can't match. Watching an aircraft take off and land, observing a passing container ship from the coastline or following a big rig roll down the highway all have limited appeal to most folks. 

While I do believe this type of program does have a positive impact on the Union Pacific's bottom line it is likely to be realized in many ways not directly related to a potential customer's choice of who will ship their goods or products. The net monetary gain or loss to the railroad is at best extremely difficult to judge and likely impossible to quantify with any numbers most executives could relate to. Still, such projects are not approved without considerable forethought and more than a few "near the top" had to agree it would be worth the expenditure of resources required to make this spectacle happen. In the end there may have been a bit of plain old pride and showmanship in play as those making decisions not only apparently thought #4014 to be an appropriate centerpiece for Union Pacific's 150th but also perhaps saw a chance to demonstrate they can make extraordinary things happen and by extension be prepared to do so for all customers that seek their services.

Ultimately for me this event along with the entire Union Pacific heritage fleet and their travels represent traditional American big business at its best as they honor their history while educating and entertaining the masses on a scale seldom seen in today's world where most companies tend to forget the past and think of the future only in terms of the next day and dollar of profit. For lack of a better term I see this as a "quality of life" event provided by an organization that didn't have to do anything but instead chose to do just about everything one could imagine. I do hope the future holds more than a few opportunities for us to ride behind #4014 after the initial commitments planned for it are realized.              

I'm very thankful the idea to restore a 4000 class was born and that the right people within Union Pacific and The RailGiants Train Museum were in place at every level necessary to see such a monumental undertaking be successfully completed. I now have to consider what is possible in any endeavor with a new set of standards every time I see another video or news release concerning #4014. Whether you have an interest in steam, railroad history or simply "just like trains" there are not going to be very many days as special as these. 
>
>  



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/15/19 14:51 by grizzledgary.



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