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Steam & Excursion > Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?


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Date: 01/19/23 09:54
Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: TTStetz3

With the new year underway, I was wondering if anyone has heard about any upcoming "mainline" steam excursions for 2023? Or are operating historic steam locomotives only running on their "home" trackage? Maybe a few photo charters? I am assuming that Amtrak and Class 1 railroads are (still) not open to "welcoming" mainline steam pulled excursions on their routes and railroads?



Date: 01/19/23 10:54
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: HotWater

TTStetz3 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> With the new year underway, I was wondering if
> anyone has heard about any upcoming "mainline"
> steam excursions for 2023?


No.

Or are operating
> historic steam locomotives only running on their
> "home" trackage?

Without PTC installed, that pretty well covers it.

Maybe a few photo charters? I am
> assuming that Amtrak and Class 1 railroads are
> (still) not open to "welcoming" mainline steam
> pulled excursions on their routes and railroads?

Correct. Plus all the "issues" precision Scheduled Railroading vs. crew issues, I can't think of a Class 1 RR that would even consider such a "plug in the system".



Date: 01/19/23 11:01
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: njmidland

I haven't seen a schedule yet, but I assume there will be multiple trips on the Reading & Northern.



Date: 01/19/23 11:53
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: DRGWMark

Unfortunately, mainline steam will likely continue its dry spell until they solve the issues of 1. figuring out how to install PTC on steam engines, 2. getting Amtrak to lose its anti-excursion policy so they'll cover the insurance, and 3. the big railroads solve their host of issues (including with their workforce) at the moment. Said issues are probably why the Union Pacific had to cancel an entire tour with the Big Boy last year.

Not all is lost, however. Like another poster said, there are still options to see big steam on other railroads like Reading & Northern. (BTW, any chance we could get N&W 611 up from where it is now in Strasburg for a visit?) I'd expect we'll probably also see something from the likes of Nickel Plate 765, Milwaukee Road 261, and Pere Marquette 1225 on their friendly neighborhood regionals/shortlines.



Date: 01/19/23 12:49
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: co614

The near term chances of being able to enjoy real mainline steam's full Monty ( no diesel(s) in the consist, track speed 79mph, open windows, real Runby's ) are zero for the issues spoken to in the above post.

  Never say never as who knows someday a steam friendly CEO could emerge at a Class 1, the advances in technology will have solved the PTC issue and the carriers will have figured out how to keep enough T&E employees on the payroll to provide service that answers the customers demands. Also possible that Amtrak will see the value in using the proven media magnetism of the steam engine to institute an in house mainline excursion program that gets the public's attention and helps make them aware of Amtrak's other offerings. 

   There's also always the possibility that a state owned railroad ( NJTransit, MBTA, METRA etc.) will allow a program like we ran over NJT's rails to let maimline steam exhibit its magic to a new generation of Americans.

    Near term not much hope. Longer term, keep the faith.

    Ross Rowland 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/19/23 12:49 by co614.



Date: 01/19/23 15:46
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: Passfanatic

I don't think this counts much as "mainline" steam but you might want to consider taking a trip over to the Reading, Blue Mountain, and Northern Railroad. For the second year starting this Spring and probably lasting until sometime in the fall, the iconic 2102 steam locomotive will be pulling excursion trains on select days from Reading Outer Station in Muhlenburg Twp to Jim Thorpe and back.



Date: 01/19/23 16:28
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: co614

I'd second that as the Reading & Northern 2102 trips are as close to the " Full Monty" as you can get in today's reality. I rode 2 of them this past season and felt both were well worth the money. 

    Ross Rowland 



Date: 01/19/23 16:50
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: wabash2800

Never say never is right. I've heard the doom and gloom for years but continue to be amazed.

Victor Baird



Date: 01/19/23 17:10
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: wcamp1472

The "requirement"  that steamers be equipped with so-called "PTC" equipment
is entirely superfluous.  PTC came about following congressional presumptions
about improving safety on the rails with 'electronics'.  Congressional pressure 
generated the "wording" .... leaving it up to others to figure out how to comply,
electonically ...

There had been several train collisions where the train operator was 'distracted'...
so, Congress decided to add unclear technology, by law,  to running trains.

Applying PTC to steamers does nothing to "increase safety" .... in fact, managing the
software responses is a distraction from conscientiously and properly operating 
the steam locomotive.  At a bare minimum there are two folks required to successfuly
 manage running the train ( see definition of 'train' in the timetable ).  

In reality, mainline excursions have extra people in the cab, some are RR
professionals overseeing the train's operation and sometimes handling
nuisance radio inquiries, etc.  
Other folks in the cab are novices, up there for the thrills.

But, the 'politics' of having the 'electronics' being required in the cab, makes
it easy for RR's legal departments to prohibit non-equipped steamers to operate.
"Well, the Law requires it,  So we'll comply..".
No PTC?
Then, No movements, No trips...

Excursions have always had the possibility of embarrassing "RR management"
in a very 'public' way ---- when events yield to scheduling conflicts and delays
to routine traffic.   So, requiring steam locos to be equipped with PTC is solely
a convenient ( political) tool to keep RR operations free from embarrassing
mismanagement ---- on full public display.

But, in today's environment of reduced 'available staff' to run the trains, excursions 
 now are out of the question.  The money-fund managers at stock-marketing firms
are demanding that RR managers decimate the staffs needed to move the trains.

And applying practices like getting rid of snow removal equipment and the 
manpower needed to keep things rolling in bad weather.  It takes many dedicated
people to keep things moving on a 24-7-365 basis.. Railroading will never be
'mechanized' and operated by dispatchers, only.

Railroads function in a REAL world of snow storms, derailments, highway crossings 
and hours-of-service laws ---- which results in the necessity of having operating crews'
'redundancy' ---- in order to keep trains running, especially when things go wrong...
for innumerable reasons.

Steam Excursions are some of the safest events that occur on the rails .....
mostly due to the diligence of the engineers , and the dedicated professionals
that run our steam engines and excursions, and they have a lot of "duplicate eyeballs"
in the cabs and adding computer terminals to the engineers' duties adds nothing to
"improving safety" of running the trains.

I'll get off my "soap box" , now.

Wes Camp


 



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/19/23 17:23 by wcamp1472.



Date: 01/19/23 19:00
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: callum_out

I would think there's better than a 50/50 chance that 2926 in ABQ gets out on "main' rails at some
point this year.

Out 



Date: 01/19/23 20:31
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: wcamp1472

I’ll wager 70/30 AGAINST ….
getting anywhere near a
Busy mainline.. in 2023.

Where are they getting an experienced ‘steam crew’,
Or even a crew schooled in,
experienced in, railroad operations?

W.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/19/23 21:45
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: wabash2800

Some of you experienced guys need to get out there and teach them!

Victor Baird

wcamp1472 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I’ll wager 70/30 AGAINST ….
> getting anywhere near a
> Busy mainline.. in 2023.
>
> Where are they getting an experienced ‘steam
> crew’,
> Or even a crew schooled in,
> experienced in, railroad operations?
>
> W.
>
> Posted from iPhone



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/23 20:50 by wabash2800.



Date: 01/19/23 23:07
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: Odyssey

For what its worth (maybe a $1.95 ... but who knows) and maybe it doesn't qualify as an excursion, but the "postponed" UP 4014 run to the Pacific Northwest could be somethin' to think about ... I know I'm gonna keep a slot open on the ole dance card just in case .......................

Odyssey
Evergreen, CO



Date: 01/20/23 06:08
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: bmoore765

Steam operations on Class 1s has always been been dependent on having the right people, holding the right job titles, at the right time.  I have no doubt that the stars will align once again, but probably not until the railroads figure out how to move freight and solve their customer service issues.  Union Pacific might do something, but their situation is a little different being a corporate program and established marketing/PR tool. Their runs are probably perceived a little differently by stakeholders than a railroading devoting resources to allowing a 3rd party to play with their choo-choo.

On the bright side, we now have "mainline" steam operators forging great relationships with shortline and regional railroads.  You may not get 79mph running, but you do get to ride behind big steam with photo-runbys, open windows, open vestibules, etc.  In my opinion, that is a LOT more enjoyable than riding in a sealed car with zero opportunites to see the locomotive which has been the expectation on mainline excursions for the last few decades.

Also, I too recommend any fan of big steam to check out Reading & Northern.  I rode one of their 2102 excursions last summer and it was one of the best experiences behind steam I've ever had.  Big engine worked to the max, no diesels, mountain grades, open windows, photo runbys and respectible speeds of 30-40mph.



Date: 01/20/23 09:25
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: TractiveEffort

There still exists the possibility of CP 2816 making its north-to-south trek in celebration of the approved CP-KCS transaction.



Date: 01/20/23 09:59
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: junctiontower

bmoore765 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Steam operations on Class 1s has always been been
> dependent on having the right people, holding the
> right job titles, at the right time.  I have no
> doubt that the stars will align once again, but
> probably not until the railroads figure out how to
> move freight and solve their customer service
> issues.  Union Pacific might do something, but
> their situation is a little different being a
> corporate program and established marketing/PR
> tool. Their runs are probably perceived a little
> differently by stakeholders than a railroading
> devoting resources to allowing a 3rd party to play
> with their choo-choo.
>
> On the bright side, we now have "mainline" steam
> operators forging great relationships with
> shortline and regional railroads.  You may not
> get 79mph running, but you do get to ride behind
> big steam with photo-runbys, open windows, open
> vestibules, etc.  In my opinion, that is a LOT
> more enjoyable than riding in a sealed car with
> zero opportunites to see the locomotive which has
> been the expectation on mainline excursions for
> the last few decades.
>
> Also, I too recommend any fan of big steam to
> check out Reading & Northern.  I rode one of
> their 2102 excursions last summer and it was one
> of the best experiences behind steam I've ever
> had.  Big engine worked to the max, no diesels,
> mountain grades, open windows, photo runbys and
> respectible speeds of 30-40mph.

I'll second these thoughts.  What the FWRHS is doing with the Indiana Northeastern RR may not be exiting enough for the "purests" but I'll take a nice all day 30 MPH ride through the scenic countryside on good track behind a big Berkshire every single time it's offered. Don't sell yourself and everybody else short waiting for the trips that may or may not ever happen again, and enjoy what we have now.  Support the people and the organizations that make it possible NOW, so that maybe if the mainline steam climate ever DOES change, there will still be somebody around that has the equipment, the knowledge,the desire and the operating track record to actually DO it.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/23 10:00 by junctiontower.



Date: 01/20/23 10:57
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: nathansixchime

There are railroads that will host steam locomotives. There is Class I's weighing the possibility even still. There are regional transit railroads that have open arms.

There are Amtrak routes that can accommodate steam charters. Amtrak has listed its standards and requirements -- no one-off moves, a repeatable model (think Autumn Colors), and fits within its operating parameters.

PTC can be addressed.

But, the next big crisis will be coaches. The major pool of passenger cars used for mainline trips in the last few years has been spun off. The high-capacity cars are all in use in regionals and short lines, making more money in tourist train service.

Other than Friends of the 261, who has a fleet ready to go, and can operations afford the total cost of moving cars enough to turn a profit? What will 2926 pull and will they be able to amortize the cost of leases and shipping enough to make it worthwhile?

As a passenger on the Reading trips back in May, I can't wait to go and sit in an open-air coach and watch the show for a few hours.

 



Date: 01/20/23 19:35
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: A-1

Today, Canadian Pacific posted a photo on Facebook of 2816 being lifted off its drivers in the Ogden shops. Supposedly the first time such a lift has occurred there in 65 years. So they seem pretty committed to putting her back on the mainline in the not too distant future.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/20/23 19:49
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: RuleG

I'm keeping my eyes on the North Shore Scenic Railroad's ex-Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range 2-8-0 which may operate this year on its Duluth - Two Harbors line.  As the OP placed Mainline in quotes, I am taking liberty with the use of the term "main line" to include this route.  When I last rode this line in 2004, I recall the train getting up to a decent speed for a tourist operation.



Date: 01/22/23 21:46
Re: Any "Mainline" Steam Excursions for 2023?
Author: Drknow

Wes1472 for the win. Hit the nail on the head, IMHO.

Regards

Posted from iPhone



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