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Steam & Excursion > Steam premium pricing

Date: 12/02/19 17:18
Steam premium pricing
Author: co614

As has often been discussed and debated here is the subject of the question ....does the general public really care if their train is diesel or steam powered??

   I can report that at New Hope we are offering two identical trains the North Pole Express diesel powered and the Santa Steam Spectacular steam powered. Other than the locomotives they are identical. The steam version sells for a 15% premium over its diesel counterpart and is more than holding its own. That's good news for steams future on the NH&I.

   For the first time this year we are offering every 30 minute departures on weekends using 3 train sets ( 2 diesel, 1 steam) or a total of 21 departures for the day to address prior years where we would turn business away on account of selling out. The trains pass each other at a new siding called Deer Park which is halfway between New Hope and the run around station at Lahaska. The operation went very well with all trains running on time despite very heavy ridership. 

   Early best wishes to all for a great Christmas and a healthy, rewarding 2020.  Ross Rowland 

Date: 12/02/19 20:25
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: Westbound

To answer your question, someone walking through the steam powered train would simply ask the passengers (really, the family head who paid for the tickets) why he chose to pay for the higher priced train. It has been years since I was there with wife. We really enjoyed the ride and the town (nothing like it in California).  
As for me, I would pay for steam because I want to hear that chime whistle (assuming you have a great whistle in service) while on board.

Date: 12/03/19 03:28
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: ClubCar

HI Ross:
Having ridden so many steam excursions through the years, and especially the ones that you operated with both the Reading 2101 and the C&O 614 during the Chessie area, it is hard to know how many of the younger folks feel about trains in general.  Whether or not they really care about if it's a steam engine or a diesel does not matter to many of these folks who bring their children to ride any kind of "Polar Express" trains.  Most of these people are only interested in having a good time riding the train with Santa Claus.  These people also will call any kind of train a "Choo-choo" diesel or steam as I have heard them with their children.  And like it's been said, if you're in a closed passenger car for these events, does it really matter?    However, there are those of us, probably we older generations, who remember steam powered trains or have been fortunate enough to experience a main line steam excursion, having a steam engine pulling the train does make a tremendous difference.  I personally will pay the extra money since I appreciate all the expense and labor that is used to keep a steam locomotive in service.  The average person today has no idea what is involved.  I have been lucky enough to have been down at the B&O Riverside Roundhouse in Baltimore, Maryland back in 1975 to observe the hard work that you and your volunteers were doing to bring the former Reading T-1  2101 back to life to be able to pull the American Freedom Train.  Then I was involved with the 2101 pulling the Chessie Steam Special and then with the 614 pulling the Chessie Steam Safety Express.  Those were the glory days here in the Baltimore area, and boy do we all miss them.  I am so grateful that I know Mr. William Howes from the Chessie System and to have met you during those times.  Merry Christmas to you and yours and a Healthy & Happy New Year in 2020.
John in White Marsh, Maryland

Date: 12/03/19 07:25
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: steamfan759

I am pleased to report that the steam powered Christmas trains in this area are doing very well.  I am fortunate to live near both the Black River & Western and the New Hope & Ivyland.  The BR&W has copied the NH&I and now offer first class service on their Christmas trains.  All of the pre-Christmas trips on the BR&W have been sold out and the NH&I will benefit from this as they run more trips with paid crews.  I can tell you from first hand experience that there is NOTHING better than riding steam at Christmas time.  I was lucky to ride with my son a number of times when he was running and firing #40 at New Hope.  I have to get out on line to check out the new siding and the three train operation at New Hope.  My son now has a growing family and so his days of running are over for now.  I know that Ross really enjoys running steam at Christmas time and he has been doing it for quite a few years!

Date: 12/03/19 09:50
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: co614

Thanks for the nice photo steamfan759 of your son and I next to NH&I # 40. Yes, I very much enjoy being hogger on the Santa trains and it's always a pleasure having your son as my fireman as he is very good at keeping her hot to trot. 

   This past weekend was our first running 3 train sets ( 2 diesel, 1 steam) on 30 minute head ways out of New Hope and it went very well. All trains ran on schedule despite very heavy ridership. The new passing siding at Deer Park worked very well. 

   I'm steam hogger on # 40 12/17-12/20 and 12/23 and there are still some cab rides available on those dates. Please see www.newhoperailroad.com for schedules and details. I'd be delighted to host any TO members who can afford the time and $$$ to join us. 

   An early wish to all for a great Christmas and a healthy, rewarding 2020.  

   Ross Rowland 

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/03/19 12:23 by co614.

Date: 12/03/19 10:18
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: Keystone1

Ross....you really dress the part and look like a steam hogger.

Date: 12/03/19 11:33
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: Cole42

I think that steam has an extra attraction during the Christmas season, so even if people aren't paying extra to ride behind the steam locomotive it will still attract them to at least see it and they will then ride the other trains, so I think it at the very least brings in more customers.  And there are enough people still out there who want the nostalgia of riding behind a steam engine who don't mind paying more money to do so.


Date: 12/03/19 12:37
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: mcdeo

I would think steam still has a romance about it, but not for all non-railfans, but for some.

If Thomas is pulling the train (steam, diesel, or tin can), then it's popular! And even with a fog machine, Thomas could be considered steam by the average person. 

Mike ONeill
Parker, CO
Colorado Photos

Date: 12/03/19 15:05
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: webmaster

The question I would ask, does the 15% premium cover the added cost of running steam over diesel?


Todd Clark
Canyon Country, CA

Date: 12/03/19 17:24
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: co614

Todd, The answer is yes provided that steam is used only on those occassions where it can attract sufficient patronage ( i.e. Santa trains, Autumn Color Specials, July 4th.etc.) at a premium price to its diesel counterparts. The NH&I plan is to use steam only on those special occassions and thus maximize its use of the 1472 day rule. 

 I relooked at the NH&I fare structure and note that the steam 1st.class fare is a 15% premium and the coach fare is a little over a 20% premium. At those numbers steam is self supporting in that setting.

  I would guess that for a mainline application that had any kind of frequency the premium would have to be at least 30% as the out of pocket costs to run steam are at least that much greater than diesel. 

   IMHO-Ross Rowland 

Date: 12/04/19 07:39
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: co614

As to " dressing the part" thank you for the compliment. Yes, IMHO those few of us privileged in this day & age to be running steam need to always remember that we are standing on the shoulders of thousands of professional hoggers who came before us and we are now carrying the torch to the next generation and it's our obligation to do all possible to do that in the highest caliber way we can. Also, the steam locomotive engineers outfit came about for functional reasons not fashion. The bandannas kept the cinders from going down the front into the bibs interior, the ankle straps kept the pants from being loose and catching on grate bars and other hazards, long sleeves afforded some protection iin case of a sudden steam leak, gloves for protection in general and especially in case of an emergency requiring shutting down a supply valve to isolate a broken pipe, goggles to protect eyes from cinders. 

   Did you ever see a photo from the steam era of an engineer on the Broadway Limited, 20th. Century Limited, Super Chief etc., etc. hanging halfway out the cab window, bare headed and bare handed as he ran his locomotive at track speed ??   Answer of course is no. 

   Best regards to all for a great Christmas and a healthy, rewarding 2020. Ross Rowland 

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/04/19 08:04 by co614.

Date: 12/04/19 12:50
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: nycman

Ross, "dressing the part," when it first appeared tempted me to add a reply "Because he IS one," and you certainly explained why one should dress for the job of running steam, above.

Date: 12/04/19 16:09
Re: Steam premium pricing
Author: wcamp1472

Love that Watch Chain, too...

Ross recently explained the history of that watch, it’s heritage and its importance.

Bsck when we ran excursions in the late 1960s, there were a few old heads that ran our engines....they stood out for their 
impeccable neatness and clean clothes —— even at the end of the day’s trip.

There was one Western Maryland engineer, that ran Hart’s ex-CP 1286, 4-6-2.   
I knew his name, but he was an old head, that stayed clean, net and unruffled—-all day long.
He also wore a bleached, white engineer’s cap...it stayed that way.
Also, he was a slender gent, white hair, average height and an excellent operator of the steeds under his control.
He was excellent as an operator and also knew how to put on a show...
I used to know his name....I’ve got a slide of him in the engineer’s seat.  I’ll post it when I remember, or find the slides.

So, some engineer’s were impeccable in the way they presented themselves...across the industry..
That characteristic was evident on the railroad’s we operated-over —— a few engineer’s stayed immaculately clean,
all day long.  They were dressed in the ‘classic uniform’ as worn by Ross.

Thank you RR.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/04/19 18:00 by wcamp1472.

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