The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Railfan General Discussion
NEW! - DIRECTLY POST YOUR RAILFAN PICTURES! For discussion and comments of any railroad related topic. No politics except as relates to railroading.

Moderators: othermoderator, moderator

BurlingtonJohn
Conductor
Posts: 331
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:28 pm

The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Postby BurlingtonJohn » Sun Apr 23, 2017 1:37 am

Near Columbia Missouri on 3 Nov 2013. Two locomotives in Wabash inspired paint along with two SP articulated cars and a former CB&Q baggage serving as the "kitchen" car, the operation lasted a couple of years before folding the tent ...

Regards,
Burlington John
Attachments
CESX 1951 (14).jpg

SOO2719
Conductor
Posts: 273
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:18 pm
Interested in trains?: Yes

Re: The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Postby SOO2719 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:05 pm

Too bad. That looked like a colorful train. I guess full-fledged dinner trains are a dying breed?
Richard "Tony" Held

"Trackside with Tony"
http://www.tonyheld.hoboandbowser.net/category/trackside/

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 2947
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Postby Mark D » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:09 am

Any idea what happened to the engines and rolling stock?
Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

John Bohon
Conductor
Posts: 296
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Postby John Bohon » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:24 am

I do not think you can call dinner trains a dying breed. There are any number that are thriving including the one in Napa California. TVRM operates a Saturday evening dinner train about 9 months out of the year and it is well patronized. It is a question of having a customer base, marketing, and putting out a quality product. Like all start up operations the locals will come out once and that is a market that can get you going but you had better develop a new market by the time the locals run out. Those who do are the operations that will last more than a couple of years.

John Bohon

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 2947
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Postby Mark D » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:53 pm

John is so right. But it goes beyond that...
To make it work in the long haul you need to have a plan of variance. You can't have the same old same old trick every time. This goes both for dinner trains and excursion trains. You also need to be in a place of high population and be easy for people to get to the train.
Large population brings new people in to replace the ones who've "been there, done that".
You need to be able to effect changes in your operation to make it better and sometimes make it new.

Unfortunately, in my own view riding twenty mph down a class 2 track rocking and rolling and trying to eat a mediocre meal isn't all that appealing. I think there are a lot of people who feel the same way.
Would I buy a ticket to ride a 261 trip? I did just that - once. I only go now because I'm on the crew and I'm too busy to become bored.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve

John Bohon
Conductor
Posts: 296
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 9:30 pm
Location: North Carolina

Re: The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Postby John Bohon » Sun Aug 13, 2017 2:19 pm

The meal can not be mediocre. These trains charge a large premium and the food has to be great. The TVRM dinner train is a short run so the train crawls along in order to allow people to enjoy their meal. It also travels much of the journey through, shall we say, urban scenery. The train does run mostly in the dark and the lights in the train limit what can be seen outside the cars. While we are in a heavily populated area with lots of destination tourists the secret to the success of the train is the food is cooked onboard and is superb. I know of a failed dinner train that ran though boring scenery but was originated in a tourist mecca. The train itself was nice. It should have had a chance but the food was catered and when you ask for a coke with your meal you were served a Sam's Club cola in the can. They did not even serve in a glass so you did not know the brand, not to mention the can lacked any form of class. I doubt the operation lasted 2 years. It is the details that count since the train ride is only a small portion of the passenger experience.

There are dinner trains that do not operate in heavily populated areas. It takes more effort but success can be had given the right circumstances. Their trick is knowing the market and using it. Much like the secret to good track is drainage the secret to passenger trains is advertising.

John Bohon

SOO2719
Conductor
Posts: 273
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:18 pm
Interested in trains?: Yes

Re: The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Postby SOO2719 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:15 pm

I stand corrected then re: dinner trains. I guess the fate of the Minnesota Zephyr in Stillwater colored my view somewhat.
Richard "Tony" Held

"Trackside with Tony"
http://www.tonyheld.hoboandbowser.net/category/trackside/

Mark D
Conductor
Posts: 2947
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:01 pm
Location: Sort of between Litchfield and Forest City, MN.

Re: The Columbia Star Dinner Train

Postby Mark D » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:25 am

Yeah, me too. That dinner train that ran out of Stillwater was a joke. I should also say that I never actually rode the train. But I heard complaints about the food and the conditions of the cars themselves. I know first hand how bad the trucks were... They begged the 261 group to 'lend' them some new wheel sets and install them. IIRC, that never happened. Dinner trains don't need to be fast, but this thing ran at 10 mph or so on a couple miles of track. I believe the food was catered.
And being located in Stillwater they're too far from the Cities to draw many people from there. Stillwater is a small town whose only claim to fame is to have a max security prison there.

Mark D.
Mark D. - The bottom of the information curve


Return to “General Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests